5th Feb 2023

'Irresponsible' and 'insulting' - Reding and France in fresh row

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has opened a new front with Paris after her month-long row over Roma expulsions, brandishing as "irresponsible" a Franco-German plan to change the EU treaty in remarks quickly dubbed an "insult" by Paris.

"To come up with chimeras about new treaties looks absolutely irresponsible to me," Ms Reding told German daily Die Welt in an interview on Tuesday (26 October), referring to a deal on EU financial regulation made by French leader Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel in the French town of Deauville last week.

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

"European decisions are not taken in Deauville, also not by two members alone. They are taken in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg by 27 member states, based on a solid proposal which is in the interest of all 500 million citizens," Ms Reding said.

The Franco-German pact envisages amending the EU treaty in order to create a permanent EU bailout fund in a way which complies with the German constitution. Germany and Belgium, the EU chair, have said the change concerns adding a few line to the EU document when Croatia joins the Union, rather than opening up the whole treaty for fresh debate.

Ms Reding for her part pointed to the 10-year-long battle among EU countries to finally secure the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force last December and which, according to the Luxembourgish commissioner, already "has enough elements to secure rescue mechanisms."

France quickly reacted to Ms Reding's interview and accused her of "insulting" Paris.

"The terms this European commissioner uses to denigrate the Franco-German proposals are unacceptable and of the same tenor as the insulting language, which I will not forget, used against France during the controversy that she herself fuelled over the Roma," France's EU affairs minister Pierre Lellouche said during a debate in the Senate.

Ms Reding in September compared French deportations of Roma to Nazi-era persecutions, incensing Mr Lellouche and Mr Sarkozy.

Ms Reding is not alone in her criticism of the Deauville accord, however.

Economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn also warned EU leaders congregating on Thursday and Friday in Brussels against giving into the temptation of a treaty change.

The Finnish commissioner said he would "by far prefer" that national leaders avoid this move and pointed to the "moral hazard" of rendering permanent a temporary rescue mechanism established for euro-countries, which expires in 2012. By that, he means that states would not have the proper incentives to observe the strict deficit rules of the euro-zone, since they could always tap the common rescue fund.

Mr Rehn also came out strongly against German calls to suspend voting rights for repeat offenders, saying "my personal view as a committed European" is that such a move "is not necessarily in line with the idea of an ever-closer union."

The European Parliament, which also has a say in economic policy of the Union, is equally wary of the Franco-German proposal.

"I'm very sure that the Deauville deal is not the end of the story," said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the parliament's Liberal Democrats. "It's only the beginning."

To smaller member states, the idea of a Franco-German 'diktat' is highly unpalatable. Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn on Monday said the deal "leaves a bad taste," not only because Berlin and Paris appear to be dictating EU requirements, but because "there is a risk that we will be plunged back into months and years of navel-gazing."

Soros: EU disintegration poses threat to Roma

International financier and philanthropist George Soros has warned that a European process of "disintegration” is heightening the threat to the continent’s minorities. Speaking to EUobserver, he also said that EU attempts to preserve the union’s political “status quo” are “unsustainable”.

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.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

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. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us