Thursday

19th May 2022

Merkel calls for new era in the EU

In her first major EU policy speech since becoming German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Europe needs a new reason for its existence, more in tune with everyday concerns of EU citizens.

Speaking before German parliament, Mrs Merkel on Thursday (11 May) said "I believe it is about, no more and no less, finding a new reason to add to the historical foundation of the European Union".

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

  • "We absolutely need the constitution to ensure the European Union is effective and capable of action" (Photo: CDU)

She said that people needed to be convinced that Europe was working for them, creating jobs and taking account of their security in the face of a growing terrorism threat.

"We must put citizens first" said the chancellor adding that it must be clear to them "that Europe makes things better" she said pointing to Europe's success at being economically dynamic, socially responsible and at safeguarding jobs.

Nowadays people are more concerned about everyday issues such as unemployment and slow economic growth, contrary to previous expectations about the EU, she indicated.

But in order for EU to be effective, it needs its constitution, Mrs Merkel argued, referring to the rejection of the document last year by French and Dutch voters as a "setback".

"We absolutely need the constitution to ensure the European Union is effective and capable of action," Mrs Merkel said.

"We need to think about how we make the constitution a success. I want the constitution, the German government wants the constitution and I think a majority of this parliament wants it too."

Referring to her country's turn at the helm of the EU during the first half of next year, the chancellor said "If it's not tackled before, you can be sure that the German presidency will focus on this".

But she cautioned against moving too quickly on the project in case the EU is put back in a situation where it "cannot move forward".

Mrs Merkel's speech is the latest in a series of speeches about how the bloc can pick itself up after a bruising year which saw the EU constitution fail, division over enlargement and bitter member state fighting over the future EU budget.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday said the EU had to win back its credibility before it could think about reviving the EU constitution.

"I am challenging national leaders. I am asking them: are you committed or not to this project of living together in Europe?", he asked.

The future of the EU theme is likely to stay in the headlines for much of the coming weeks with foreign ministers due to discuss it later this month and EU leaders taking a stab at the problem during a summit in June.

EU lobbies Hungary to break oil sanctions deadlock

After the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's Budapest trip, Hungary suggested it wants EU funds to offset the extra costs from receiving different oil sources, and the increased energy prices the planned Russian oil embargo entails.

Political groups shun far-right pro-Kremlin MEP

French MEP Thierry Mariani from the far-right Identity and Democracy Group is spearheading a report in the parliament's foreign affairs committee. The socialists are boycotting it.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Finland expects cut in gas supply after Nato application
  2. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands push offshore wind
  3. Turkey strong-arms Finland and Sweden on extraditions
  4. Sharp increase in irregular migration to EU
  5. Russia ejects 85 European diplomats
  6. Germany shuts ex-chancellor Schröder's office over Putin ties
  7. Russia soldier pleads guilty to Ukraine war crime
  8. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme
  2. EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities
  3. EU and US keen to seize Russian funds for Ukraine
  4. EU to boost solar and renewables rollout to cut Russian gas
  5. Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag
  6. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  7. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  8. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us