Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Germany and France endorse multi-speed Europe

  • 27 EU leader will meet in Rome to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the European Communities' founding treaty (Photo: Giampaolo Macorig)

Germany and France will push for a multi-speed EU, in which some countries integrate more deeply than others, at a summit in Rome later this month.

"We must find means to better take into account member states' different levels of ambitions so that Europe can better address the expectations of all European citizens," the countries' foreign affairs ministers said in a joint statement on Wednesday (1 March).

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

  • Former Italian PM Matteo Renzi (l), with outgoing French president Francois Hollande, and German chancellor Angela Merkel (Photo: Palazzo Chigi)

Sigmar Gabriel and Jean-Marc Ayrault said that should be done "without calling into question all that we achieved."

The statement could be seen as a reassurance to countries with a lower "level of ambitions" that they will not lose the EU's benefits, as well as a warning to countries who would like to take back powers from EU institutions.

The EU "is founded on common values, solidarity and the rule of law," they added, in a reference to the most divisive issues between a core of member states and some countries such as those in the Visegrad group - Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Visegrad countries have refused to take asylum seekers and migrants despite EU demands for solidarity.

Hungary's leader Viktor Orban wants to build an "illiberal democracy" and the new government in Poland is under EU monitoring over constitutional violations.

At the end of the month, EU leaders - except British prime minister Theresa May - will meet in Rome to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the European Communities' founding treaty.

They will also publish a declaration outlining their vision for a post-Brexit EU.

The two ministers' call for a multi-speed Europe follows similar statements by their leaders, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, and indicates that the Rome declaration will set out that direction.

On Monday, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, also said that the EU needed to "go ahead with multi-speed Europe".

'Quo vadis Europa?'

Germany and France "are deeply attached to the success of this process," Gabriel and Ayrault said.

They were reacting to a White Paper on the future of Europe presented on Wednesday by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, ahead of the summit.


Juncker laid out five scenarios for the bloc after Britain's departure in 2019, from "carrying on" to "doing much more together", with "nothing but the single market", "those who want to do more fo more" and "doing less more efficiently" as intermediare scenarios.

“It is time we sought answers to a question as old as our union is young: ‘quo vadis Europa?'," Juncker told MEPs, using the latin version of "where are you going, Europe?".

“We need to move forward, we need to continue,", he said, adding that it was not up to him to decide which scenario to adopt.

Juncker's paper was "an important and valuable contribution to the larger discussion on the future of Europe, its project and its functioning," Gabriel and Ayrault said, in a referrence to the member states' desire to control the process.

'Much more than a single market'

They noted that "our best protection and our best asset for the future is a stronger European Union".

They said that the EU should focus on "reinforcing" Europe's role on the world stage; developing a European defence policy; "putting into place a stable and cooperative framework to address the migration issue"; "promoting the convergence" of European economies; "reinforcing" Europe's social market economy; and "progressing towards the completion" of monetary union.

With Brexit talks to be triggered this month, the EU wants to demonstrate that the process will not be its main task and that Britain's influence on the European project is already a thing of the past.

"However painful and regrettable Brexit may be, it will not stop the EU as it moves to the future," Juncker said on Wednesday.

"Europe is much more than a single market," the German and French ministers said in their statement, referring to a vision of Europe defended by the UK before it voted to leave the EU.

Maltese PM hails pope, calls for multispeed EU

Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat said that Pope Francis has "the skills and vision" to inspire the EU and that some EU countries should integrate more to be able to act.

Hollande: EU will be multi-speed or will 'explode'

The French president, who is hosting a meeting with the German, Italian and Spanish leaders, says that EU countries must be able to integrate further on economy, defence or research and calls for a eurozone budget.

EU's big four back 'multi-speed' Europe

Leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain support forging ahead with European integration in a post-Brexit world, even if it means deepening cracks among EU member states.

EPP pushes for multi-speed Europe

The centre-right European party has presented its strategy to preserve the EU's security and values and presents a multi-speed union as a "necessity", given the circumstances.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us