Sunday

4th Dec 2022

EPP pushes for multi-speed Europe

  • Herman Van Rompuy: "The central narrative is that we want to keep our democracies, our societies, and our economies as open as possible". (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

With three EU institution presidents and a German chancellor in its ranks, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) wants to weigh in on the current thinking about the future of the EU.

The EPP presented on Tuesday (7 March) the strategy it will adopt at its congress towards the end of the month in Malta.

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

"The central narrative is that we want to keep our democracies, our societies, and our economies as open as possible," Herman Van Rompuy, who authored the report with Elmar Brok, told journalists in Brussels.

Van Rompuy, a former Belgian prime minister and European Council president, said that "the future of the EU has to be defined by the objectives we want to pursue", such as "protecting people better against new threats to their security and their prosperity" and defending "core European values inside and outside Europe".

Amid talks about a turn towards a so-called multi-speed Europe, in which some member states integrate more than others in some areas, Van Rompuy admitted that the option was "a second choice, not a first choice".

He added that the first objective would be to work together as 27, but "if this is not possible, there is a fallback," referring to enhanced cooperation, the legal name for the multi-speed mechanisms.

For the EPP, Van Rompuy said, in "key domains" such as the euro or the passport-free Schengen area, "more deepened integration and coordination among member states is necessary to preserve the acquis and to let them work better".

"We have no other choice," he insisted.

Le Pen would change Europe

The EU's effort to redefine itself comes while facing Brexit, Donald Trump's election and continued hostile actions from Russia. It also addresses the rise of anti-EU forces, with a possibility of Marine Le Pen winning the French presidency in May.

"We have to be ready to deal with the worst," said EPP president Joseph Daul.

"If France is under Le Pen, we'll have another Europe but Marine Le Pen will not stop Europe's evolution," the French former MEP said.

"If a country has to go through a far-right experiment, the only wish I have if that it doesn't happen in France," he said, adding however that "if the democracy wants to elect Le Pen, the French people will have to assume the consequences of their democratic decision."

In recent years, Van Rompuy pointed out, the EU kept the eurozone intact and managed the migration crisis, so it should be able to face anti-EU sentiment now.

"Nexit and Frexit will simply not happen," he insisted, referring to the potential of the Netherlands and France leaving the EU.

The EPP party, which is historically linked to European integration but now counts among its members strong critics like Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban, stressed the need for unity in uncertain times.

"None of the challenges [Europe faces] can be answered anymore by member states," said Elmar Brok, who until January chaired the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"Both Luxembourg and Germany are too small," added the German MEP.

Brok assured that EU nation states "will survive, because it's important for cultural, political, historical identity".

Orban the 'enfant terrible'

"The debate is not Europe or the nation, as some populists try to make, it's the nation and Europe. We won't allow populists to run away with the word 'nation'," he said.

When asked about why the EPP kept Orban in its ranks despite his eurosceptic and anti-migrant positions, Daul said that "every family has its enfant terrible [and] if you want to keep contact with him it's better to keep him within the family so you can discuss it with him".

"But there are red lines not to cross," the party chief added, referring to when Orban considered reintroducing the death penalty. "I will do the maximum to keep him in the family but he has to respect the values and principles of our political family", Daul added.

"For now, I will deal with the enfant terrible," he said. But he suggested that the task was not always easy: "he is the head of state and government I have the most on the phone".

EU's big four back 'multi-speed' Europe

Leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain support forging ahead with European integration in a post-Brexit world, even if it means deepening cracks among EU member states.

Hollande: EU will be multi-speed or will 'explode'

The French president, who is hosting a meeting with the German, Italian and Spanish leaders, says that EU countries must be able to integrate further on economy, defence or research and calls for a eurozone budget.

Maltese PM hails pope, calls for multispeed EU

Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat said that Pope Francis has "the skills and vision" to inspire the EU and that some EU countries should integrate more to be able to act.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  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. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us