Friday

18th Jan 2019

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

  • Hollande: "We have to imagine degrees of integration." (Photo: Consillium)

A multi-speed Europe, where some countries integrate more than others, is necessary to avoid the bloc "exploding", the French president has said ahead of a meeting of four countries to prepare plans.

"Europe at 27 cannot be anymore the uniform Europe at 27," Francois Hollande said in an interview with six European newspapers published on Monday (6 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

"For a long time, this idea of a differentiated Europe, with different speeds and distinct paces to progress, has provoked a lot of resistance. But today this idea is necessary. Otherwise Europe explodes," he said.

Hollande gave interviews to France's Le Monde, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Italy's La Stampa, Spain's La Vanguardia, Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza and Britain's The Guardian. The interviews were held ahead of a meeting in Versailles on Monday between France, Germany, Italy and Spain, to prepare EU summits in Brussels next week and in Rome at the end of the month.

On 25 March, EU leaders will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaty, which founded the European Communities. They will publish a declaration in which they will "map out the prospects for the next 10 years," Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni said last week.

The aim of the Versailles meeting, between the EU's four largest countries, is to agree on a common position and push for a multi-speed EU when the UK leaves the EU.

In the future, Hollande said in the interview, "there will be a common pact, an internal market with a single currency for some".

"On that base," he added, "it will be possible, for member states who would want it, to go further on defence, on tax harmonisation, on research, on culture, on youth. We have to imagine degrees of integration."

He said he would propose a budget for the eurozone, because "some countries will never join the eurozone … Let's not wait for them to deepen the economic and monetary union".

Trump's wake-up call

The French president's interview follows a joint statement by the French and German foreign affairs ministers last week, where they said that the two countries were "deeply attached to the success of this process".

Also last week, the countries of the Visegrad group - Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic - warned against "division within the EU" that could lead to "disintegration".

Hollande said that Monday's Versailles meeting was just an extension of the usual Franco-German consultations ahead of summits, not "a matter of impose the point of view of the four most populated eurozone countries".

He said that the EU should take advantage of the election of Donald Trump as US president.

"[Trump's] misreading of what the EU is obliges us to demonstrate its political cohesion, its economic weight and its strategic autonomy," he said.

He also said that Russia "tests our resistance and measures at every moment, the balance of power" but that if Europe "is strong and united, Russia will want to have a lasting and balanced relationship".

UK's 'bad choice'

The French president said that the UK should remain "associated" with EU defence policies after it has left the bloc. But he insisted that Britons could not retain the advantages of EU membership.

"That is not possible. The UK will become an outsider to the European Union," he said.

He noted that "the UK’s problem [was that] it had thought that in leaving Europe it would tie up a strategic partnership with the US. But it now happens that the US is closing itself off from the world."

"The UK has made a bad choice at a bad moment. I regret that," he said.

Looking at France's situation, Hollande pointed out that the April-May presidential election would also "determine the future of the European project".

But he assured that even if "the far-right has never been so high in the last thirty years … France will not give in".

Juncker envisages EU of core groups

Commission head Juncker say EU states which want deeper integration should press ahead in core groups, in reaction to the UK’s departure.

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. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

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. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

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