19th Mar 2018

Barroso: EU Treaty 'needs to be renewed'

  • The Hague speech was designed as a teaser for Barroso's 12 September address (Photo:

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has said EU institutions need more power over member states to fight the crisis.

Speaking on Saturday (1 September) in The Hague at a meeting of constitutional court judges organised by Yale University, he called for a "European renewal" and for a further "leap" of integration.

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"We are experiencing a situation in which we need greater unity and coherence between our policies, as well as greater legislative harmonisation ... We need greater institutional integration. We need to consolidate a transnational order that through shared sovereignty guarantees the protection of our citizens," he said.

"The present crisis has shown the limits of individual action by nation states. Europe and the principles of the Treaty need to be renewed."

Barroso noted that deeper political union must come with "appropriate mechanisms of accountability" for Brussels.

But he blamed the EU's financial mess on profligacy by individual countries.

"If the member states do not in practice abide by the fundamental principles they have all agreed, then we are faced with a crisis of credibility," he said.

"While the immediate causes of the crisis currently affecting the European Union are indeed financial and economic, they are also, on a more fundamental level, the product of a crisis of values and of the non-respect of the norms," he added.

His remarks come at the start of the new political season after the summer break in Europe.

They also come at a time when Barroso and other top EU officials are drafting proposals for deeper integration which may lead to a debate on EU treaty change in December - a divisive issue, with many EU capitals wary of opening the Pandora's Box on reform.

The commission's press service published only selected excerpts from the speech at the behind-closed-doors event in The Hague.

A Barroso spokesman told EUobserver on Monday that the commission chief asked his staff "not to interpret" his remarks on whether he supports EU Treaty change or not.

He added that the rest of Barroso's speech was mainly on constitutional theory and that the commission chief will give more details of his ideas on EU reform at a "state of the union" speech on 12 September.

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The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

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