Thursday

9th Feb 2023

Stop criticising Merkel, Danish PM says

With Denmark taking over the EU presidency in January PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt has said she will fight to make sure that fellow non-eurozone countries are involved in all discussions concerning the internal market, as the eurozone crisis drives a potentially major wedge between those in and outside the single currency.

"I have no problems understanding that the 17 need to discuss certain things themselves. I think that is natural. But when we are discussing things that concern the internal market, we should all 27 be around the table," she told EUobserver ahead of a key summit of EU leaders.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

She added that she would have "huge difficulty understanding" if the 10 non-euro states were excluded from general issue debates.

Thorning-Schmidt's comments come as a Franco-German paper, feeding discussions in the summit, suggests that eurozone countries should meet once a month during the crisis to discuss competitiveness and growth issues - topics that non-euro states believe pertain to the EU club as a whole.

The split between the Ins and the Outs, as they are colloquially known, has deepened alongside the eurozone crisis.

While single currency countries, led by France and Germany, are pressing ahead with tightening economic governance rules, non-euro countries are worried that they will have no control over decisions that could potentially affect the single market.

The rift has seen the non-euro states conduct their own meetings in parallel to eurozone meetings.

“It is very important in a time of crisis that we stick to the 27 member states, our common method, our acquis [EU laws] - all the things that we have built up over the years,” said Thorning-Schmidt.

The Danish premier refused to criticise Berlin’s leadership in the crisis, despite the fact that Germany’s approach has raised hackles in some quarters both on substance and style.

“Anyone who criticises Chancellor Merkel for taking too much responsibility would have to see the opposite situation where Germany did not take that kind of responsibility,” she said.

With most member states considered reluctant to open the EU treaty to enshrine tighter budgetary surveillance, Thorning-Schmidt gave unequivocal backing to the idea.

“We can accept treaty change. We want to discuss with our partners what kind of treaty change is needed.”

She also indicated she supported a full-blown negotiation process, involving MEPs and MPs, so long as it is limited in “time and scope.”

“The reason why we involve the European Parliament is because we want to have a widespread European debate about these treaty changes.”

Any treaty change would not see Denmark attempt to change its policy on the euro, however. "We have an opt out on the euro and we are not intending to put that to the vote," she said.

Highlighting the constructive role that non-eurozone countries can play, Thorning-Schmidt said Denmark's central bank would be stumping up €5.3 billion to the EU's contribution to the International Monetary Fund.

"For us, this is a gesture as well. We want to show that we are taking our responsibility seriously. I come here today with not only our backing of our central bank being involved but also a positive attitude towards treaty change."

Aware that treaty talk can take over EU discussion to the exclusion of everything else, Thorning-Schmidt pledged to keep the Danish presidency focused on more concrete policy issues too.

"We will deal with the crisis, but we will also try and take some solid decisions for Europe," she said, referring particularly to Copenhagen's focus on green growth.

Danish EU presidency to focus on euro crisis

Denmark's upcoming six months of chairing EU meetings and overseeing legislation in the making will mainly focus on fire-fighting the "worst crisis the EU ever had" and on the bloc's next budget, the Danish ambassador to the EU said Wednesday.

Former centre-left MEP wins Danish elections

Denmark on Thursday elected former Social-Democrat MEP Helle Thorning-Schmidt to become its first female premier. The new government is likely to row back on the controversial border checks and have a more generous approach to EU spending.

Denmark to battle for European unity

Denmark takes over the EU rotating presidency on Sunday, kicking off what is expected to be another traumatic year for the eurozone and its single currency.

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Column

Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

All member states complain about European compromises, each for their own reasons. Nevertheless, these decisions tend to be robust precisely because there is enough in them for everybody. And nobody wants to start negotiating all over again for another deal.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  2. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  3. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  4. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  5. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  6. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  7. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  8. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us