Thursday

28th Jul 2016

'Political science fiction' to become reality, Barroso says

The European Commission will set out its views on EU treaty change by early next year noting that ideas that now seem like "political science fiction" will eventually become reality.

The commission will put forward "explicit ideas for treaty change in order for them to be debated before the European elections," said president Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday (7 May).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We want to put all the elements on the table even if some of them may sound like political science fiction today. They will be reality in a few years' time, sooner than we might think," he told a conference on shaping economic and monetary union.

While EU powers have been greatly extended - new laws allow the commission to ask for changes to national budgets - a central finance ministry, a eurozone budget and some mutualisation of debt are all considered to be part of a future new-look eurozone.

Barroso underlined the importance of the importance EU citizens being aware of and approving the changes being made at the EU level.

"Europe will be open and democratic, or it will fail," he said.

The 'democracy' debate has come to the fore in recent months. Rapid policy-making - generally to give EU institutions more power - to stay ahead of the economic crisis has led to an unease that citizens' views are being bypassed.

This feeling is compounded in bailed-out countries - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus - where spending priorities are in the hands of officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Meanwhile, fall-out from the crisis - low growth and record levels of unemployment - have led to fears that populist or extremist parties will benefit, particularly during the European Parliament elections, when voters often feel less attached to the potential consequences of their ballot.

Barroso urged "mainstream" political parties not to "relinquish the momentum to eurosceptic or europhobic forces. You have to fight with rational arguments and unwavering convictions."

But a comment by Portuguese finance minister Vitor Gaspar showed the level of frustration, particularly in southern European countries, with the budget-cutting priorities of Brussels and Germany, the eurozone's most influential member state.

"We need the European Union to respect a fundamental principle - the principle of the primacy of the national dimension of politics. The European Union must allow its member states to deliver the social goods that their citizens demand," said Gaspar.

"We just have to look at the dramatic rise in youth unemployment, in particular in programme countries, to realise exactly what this plea means in practice."

Statistics for youth unemployment - 58% in Greece and 55% in Spain - have led analysts and politicians to speak of a "lost generation" of Europeans.

The issue is to be dealt at a June summit of EU leaders. On Monday the prime ministers of Spain and Italy urged the EU to adopt policies that would avoid social unrest. The two leaders said they would prepare a list of proposals - especially on youth employment - to be presented at the summit.

To date, there is a youth employment and training scheme that has to be fine-tuned by member states while a much heralded growth pact - signed off in June 2012 - amounted to little.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  2. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  3. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  4. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  5. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  6. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  10. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  11. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  12. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company