Monday

25th Sep 2017

Ministers call for stronger EU foreign policy chief

  • German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (l) created the group seven months ago (Photo: msz.gov.pl)

A brainstorming group of 11 foreign ministers has called for a more powerful EU foreign policy chief and less power in general for EU countries.

The group - containing ministers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain - published its communique on the "Future of Europe" on Tuesday (18 September) after a meeting in Warsaw.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It said the EU should make a "substantial revision" of the European External Action Service (EEAS), putting the EEAS chief in charge of neighbourhood and development policy as well as a new-model defence policy designed to create a "European army."

The current EEAS chief, Catherine Ashton, is flanked by neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele and development commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who control the vast bulk of EU money spent in the Western Balkans, the Middle East and Africa.

The new-model EEAS chief would instead control two "junior" neighbourhood and aid commissioners.

The report also called for more meetings of EU foreign ministers and more majority-based decisions on foreign and defence policy in order to "prevent one single member state from being able to obstruct initiatives."

The idea of less power for EU capitals was the main theme of the paper.

It said changes to EU treaties should in future be adopted "by a super-qualified majority of the EU member states and their population" instead of by unanimity.

It endorsed existing legal proposals to give the European Commission and the European Central Bank more control over national economies: the so-called "two-pack" law on budgetary discipline and a single EU bank supervisor.

It floated the idea of a single EU President who runs the commission and the EU Council and who is directly elected by voters in a pan-EU vote "on the same day in all member states."

It also proposed that EU external borders should be manned by a "European Border Police."

The communique noted several times that "not all participating ministers agree with all proposals," creating a get-out clause for anybody who might face a eurosceptic backlash at home.

The text included other caveats.

It said that majority-made EU treaty changes "would [only] be binding for those member states that have ratified them" and that "the responsibility of the member states for the composition of their budgets has to be fully respected."

It also spoke of greater democratic "legitimacy" and "visibility."

At one point, it said the European Parliament should be able to initiate EU law instead of just amending or blocking commission proposals.

But for the most part the "visibility" boiled down to extra "consultative" powers for MEPs and the creation of a new joint committee for MEPs and national MPs to talk to each other.

The text also highlighted a new EU term - the "pre-in."

The "pre-in" is an EU country which aims to join the euro one day and which wants to be able to go to eurozone meetings already to find out where the single currency is going.

Bank agency shuns EU invitations

The EU's banking agency is not visiting cities that want to host the agency post-Brexit "to ensure objectivity". The medicines agency has no such qualms.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel wins fourth term, exit polls say
  2. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  3. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  4. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  5. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  6. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  7. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  8. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel