Sunday

4th Dec 2016

Ambassadors to tell the world EU is not falling apart

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso has said EU ambassadors need "economic briefings" to help tell the outside world what the bloc is doing to fight the crisis.

Speaking at a yearly heads of delegation meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (4 September), Barroso noted: "I know that you are increasingly asked by our partners to explain all these steps and the latest measures taken by the European Union, so I will make sure that the EEAS [the EU foreign service] and our delegations get more regular economic briefings, in particular after important decisions are taken."

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  • 'The Ambassadors' - by Hans Holbein, d. 1543 (Photo: National Art Gallery, London)

He added that the envoys, from the EU's 136 outposts worldwide, should "make the case for Europe" on three points.

Firstly, that EU integration is going forward not backward: "The debate now in Europe is how far and how fast are we going for the next steps but no one really, at least in the governments that are in Europe, is proposing to undo European integration."

Second, that EU national leaders believe in the Union.

Barroso said that many non-EU countries have a "sovereign-ist" mentality and "cynicism" about EU countries' political will.

But he added on a personal note that: "After eight years in this position, and the last three years in crisis mode day and night ... I am fully confident about the willingness of our member states and their leaders to integrate further."

Thirdly, he told EU envoys to explain that the main job of the European Central Bank (ECB) is to save the euro, not to fight inflation.

"The first mandate of the ECB is the very existence of the euro, it is not only price stability. So when there are threats to the integrity of the monetary union the ECB has of course the right to intervene and re-intervene," he said, amid speculation that Frankfurt will resume buying Italian and Spanish bonds this week despite German concerns.

The commission chief again hinted that he is in favour of EU Treaty change in the "medium or long term" to create a fiscal and political union.

He also said that EU countries need "shared sovereignty" in order to have weight in world affairs, despite the fears of what he called "nationalists" and "populists."

"The first question that people in our delegations around the world are getting is the outlook for the euro - 'What's happening? What's the plan?' It's perfectly natural that we would like to increase the amount of information that our heads of delegation get [on this topic]," a Barroso spokesman told this website.

Analysis

Doubts hang over EU investment plan's future

Questions of value for money and a lack of transparency complicate adding almost €200 billion more and extending the Juncker investment plan to 2020.

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