Monday

18th Feb 2019

Brussels warns Poland and UK on EU constitution

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has warned both Poland and the UK not to block attempts to agree a new treaty for the European Union.

Speaking about Poland with Financial Times Deutschland, Mr Barroso indicated it was time for Warsaw to show the same solidarity it demanded on issues to do with Russia towards solving the EU's internal problems.

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

  • Jose Manuel Barroso - putting pressure on London and Warsaw (Photo: ec.europa)

"Poland is currently experiencing the value of European solidarity. On a difficult issue for Poland, we clearly said: Poland's problem is a problem for the whole of the European Union," said Mr Barroso.

"I hope that Poland's leaders understand that solidarity is a two way street," he remarked, in a reference to EU support for Warsaw in its ongoing row with Moscow over Russian refusal to import Polish meat products.

Poland made the issue a European one late last year by blocking the opening of talks on renewing an EU-Russia pact, and asked other member states to show unity.

Meanwhile, the commission chief tailored the same message to London. He told UK daily the Financial Times that London would harm its own interests if it prevented agreement on a new treaty, adding that the matter would come back to haunt Gordon Brown, set to be the next UK prime minister.

"I have no doubt that this issue will not disappear unless it is solved," Mr Barroso said

"How can we have credibility in addressing global challenges when we show we are not even able to settle our internal arrangements? It's a question of credibility," he went on.

The warning - to the two countries seen as the most sceptical about a new treaty - comes just weeks before EU leaders are to meet to try and agree the bones of a new settlement, two years after the proposed EU constitution was rejected by France and the Netherlands.

Poland has said it wants to change the voting system proposed in the new constitution – a political hornet's nest that no other member state has indicated it wants to touch.

The rhetoric was upped yesterday by prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. "We are ready - since there was information in the press to the contrary - to die for this," he said in a conscious echo of Poland's "Nice [treaty voting system] or Die" slogan from the 2003/2004 negotiations.

The UK, for its part, shocked other member states by recently presenting a long list of red line issues that it did not want to see in a new treaty – including the EU having a legal personality and the extension of qualified majority voting. It also wants to scrap the Charter of Fundamental Rights from the text.

Simplified treaty

Elsewhere among member states, France's idea of a "simplified treaty" appears to be gathering support.

Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi recently indicated he could live with this new set-up so long as it included key institutional reforms – such as a foreign minister, a long term president of the EU and more qualified majority voting.

Yesterday (31 May), Spain's Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero also endorsed French president Nicolas Sarkozy's idea after the pair's meeting in Madrid.

"We agree with a simplified, shorter treaty," Mr Zapatero said, suggesting also that he thought it possible an agreement could be reached under the German EU presidency which will run the crucial summit on 21-22 June.

Germany is hoping to extract a precise mandate at the summit. The "roadmap" would outline what issues need to be further examined and what issues from the old EU constitution will remain untouched.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

German, French MEPs tried to block #MeToo measure

A majority of MEPs accepted signing a declaration on appropriate behaviour - but some voted against. The opposition came mostly from centre-right German and far-right French MEPs.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  2. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  3. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  4. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  5. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  6. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  7. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying
  8. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  2. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  3. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  4. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  5. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  6. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  7. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  8. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us