Thursday

17th Aug 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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

News in Brief

  1. Russian power most feared in Europe
  2. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  3. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  4. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  5. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending
  6. Low support for Norway's labour party ahead of elections
  7. Slovakia's future is with core EU, says PM
  8. Italy relieved as migration drops to lowest level since 2014

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  3. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  6. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  8. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  9. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  10. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  11. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  12. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey