Thursday

17th Oct 2019

Lukewarm support for EU super-president

  • Westerwelle. The group is to publish its final manifesto in September (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

A German-led report shows lacklustre support for the creation of a powerful new EU leader.

The eight-page paper - circulated to press on Wednesday (20 June) - is a snapshot of current thinking in German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle's reflection group on the future of the Union.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It says that: "Some foreign ministers suggested to examine the creation of a double-hatted post of President of the [European] Commission and President of the European Council."

It also describes as an "important step" the potential "nomination of a top candidate for the next European elections that could also be a candidate for the position of commission President."

It adds that "in the long term" there "could" be "a directly elected commission President who chooses the members of his 'European Government'."

The hodge-podge of remarks pointing toward the new post reflects member states' mixed emotions about giving more power to Brussels in order to fight the crisis.

The "Future of Europe Group" has been meeting since March and is to produce a final manifesto in September.

Besides Westerwelle, it includes foreign ministers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

France - which changed foreign ministers after elections in May - has missed some meetings and was not on Westerwelle's list of countries which endorsed Wednesday's report.

Denmark also skipped meetings out of solidarity with countries, such as Sweden, who were not invited in the first place.

The foreign ministers of Austria and the Netherlands in April publicly distanced themselves from the super-president idea when news of it came out in EUobserver.

Meanwhile, the UK is out of the group amid even deeper misgivings about national sovereignty in London.

The report notes that further integration should "preferably" include all 27 EU countries. But "if need be" the Union should rely on "enhanced co-operation" by subsets of member states.

Among other ideas, it speaks of a future "European Army," a "European Border Police" and giving the European Parliament "the ability to initiate legislation" alongside the commission.

The proposals are also hedged in the vocabulary of could, should and maybe.

The paper notes that eurobonds, or "the question of mutualisation of sovereign risk," is a no-go area for now.

"There were differing views expressed [on the question]," it says, with Germany the principal opponent of the scheme.

Analysis

Eurozone crisis tests the Merkel method

The daughter of a protestant pastor, Germany's Merkel has a near-religious conviction that by cutting debt, European economies will be cured of all ills.

Germany's free borrowing is 'destroying Europe'

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz has launched a scathing attack on the German chancellor for promoting policies he says drive the borrowing costs of other euro-countries up, while Germany has just hit a record zero-percent interest rate on its bonds.

French EU nominee loses vote and is out

France's nominee for EU commissioner lost the vote on her candidacy, with 82 MEPs against and 29 in favour, after hard questions in a second hearing.

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us