Saturday

16th Feb 2019

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.

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 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.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us