Saturday

18th Nov 2017

Big three deny running the EU

Amid strong criticism from several member states, the leaders of the three biggest countries in the EU have strongly denied that they are trying to dictate European policies to the rest of the Union.

Meeting in Berlin on Wednesday (18 February), French president Jacques Chirac, German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and UK prime minister Tony Blair were at pains to stress that their meeting was open and that they would be informing the Irish EU Presidency and the European Commission of the results.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Mr Blair said the meeting was "to the advantage of all Europe". Pointing out that the three countries made up half the population and over half the wealth, Mr Blair said "I don't think we need to be apologetic in any way shape or form about it".

Mr Chirac was similarly forthright. "I do not understand what people are criticising" he said hinting that protests from other countries may simply have had to do with creating a "controversy".

Shopping list

However, despite their protestations about not wanting to run Europe, the three leaders managed to agree a letter in which they call on the Commission to reduce red tape in the EU.

The Brussels executive should "draw up a timetable with clearly defined goals with a view to abolishing regulations and reducing bureaucracy which unduly hamper competitiveness and innovation", says the joint letter.

Super Commissioner

Similarly, they call for the creation of a Commissioner to concentrate specifically on economic issues.

"We call for the appointment of a Vice-President of the Commission to focus exclusively on economic reform".

This person should have a say in all decisions on EU projects "which impact on the targets of the Lisbon agenda [the EU's goal to become the most dynamic economy in the world by 2010]".

There is also a general call for all member states to "focus on the key issues of innovation as a force to promote enterprise and the reform of product and labour markets".

What was not on the agenda

However, the fears of other countries such as Spain and Italy - both of which strongly criticised the meeting - were to do with what is not on the official agenda and what was to be discussed over dinner later.

This includes the politically very sensitive issues such as how to move forward on the EU Constitution, how to deal with the question of Turkish membership of the EU and who should become the next President of the European Commission.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

EU data chief: MEPs must accept transparency

Europe's top data protection chief says politicians have to accept transparency. His comments follows a case pitting journalists against the European Parliament, which refuses to disclose MEPs' expenses.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse