24th Mar 2019

Verhofstadt sees small chances for EU constitution revival

Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has indicated he does not believe the EU constitution can be saved, while proposing to hold special summits of eurozone leaders as an alternative.

In an interview with FT Deutschland, the Belgian leader said he backs further ratification of the EU constitution - but primarily for tactical reasons.

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

He indicated further ratification would press EU governments to confront the bloc’s institutional problems the constitution was designed to address.

"I believe it is right to continue ratification. Not because I think the chance is big that the constitution can still be saved. But ratification increases the pressure on us to come up with something on the future of Europe," Mr Verhofstadt said.

Belgium itself last month became the 14th EU country to ratify the EU constitution, but Mr Verhofstadt is at the same time promoting closer co-operation of the 12 eurozone countries as an alternative to the charter.

The Belgian leader indicated "The future of the EU constitution is uncertain. I do not see how we can reconcile the enlargement of the community with its deepening if we don't use the eurozone."

He said he hoped the leaders of the eurozone would convene the first time before the next EU spring summit in March 2007, with cooperation within the eurozone currently being limited to meetings of finance ministers.

Mr Verhofstadt's call for the eurozone becoming a forum for deeper integration is in line with his recent book "The United States of Europe."

The book proposes a two-speed Europe, where a nucleus of the 12 EU states that have adopted the euro would press ahead with closer intergration, while a looser outer circle of the "Organisation of European States" would exist alongside it.

The eurozone nucleus, which would carry the prestigious title "United States of Europe" would be open to further expansion at any time to states adopting the euro at a later stage.

EU on path towards whistleblower protection

EU lawmakers and member states have struck a political deal on the first-ever EU-wide directive on whistleblower protection - following years of big tax-evasion revelations and the laundering of dirty money in European banks.

Germany's CDU lukewarm on Macron's EU vision

Germany's anointed new leader has echoed France in calling for EU reform to combat populism - but with a stronger role for national governments and with little prospect of sharing German wealth.


Sefcovic campaign videos feature fellow commissioners

Maros Sefcovic, commission vice-president in charge of Energy Union, is running to be president of Slovakia. Now two of his fellow EU commissioners have endorsed him - raising questions about their independence.

EU college defends Saudi-style visits, attacks 'sloppy' media

College of Europe rector Jorg Monar says the surplus money made from setting up closed-door meetings between the Saudi government and EU officials, including MEPs, "would barely cover the replacement costs of a beamer in a College seminar room."

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May


The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.


Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us