Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

Barroso says EU is an 'empire'

The EU is not just any old international organisation, nor is it a superstate, but it might just be an "empire," according to European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

Veering into uncharted naming territory after being asked on Tuesday (10 July) by a journalist what kind of a structure the 27-nation bloc is, Mr Barroso said "We are a very special construction unique in the history of mankind,"

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

"Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimension of empire," he said.

He went on the clarify that instead of like super state empires of old, the EU empire is built on voluntary pooling of power and not on military conquest.

"What we have is the first non-imperial empire," said the centre-right Mr Barroso, who was formally Portugal's prime minister.

"We have 27 countries that fully decided to work together and to pool their sovereignty. I believe it is a great construction and we should be proud of it."

The commission chief said he did not see why the EU should constantly be in "existential doubt" about this, adding that he did not see there being a danger of British, German or French identity ever being lost.

Communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom, present at the same press conference, steered clear of empire references.

Instead she paraphrased former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright's comment that one has to be either a "genius or French" to understand the EU.

They made the comments after giving the commission's official go ahead to a new treaty outline for the bloc.

This is to be negotiated over the coming months and is to result in a treaty being finalised before the end of the year.

The treaty mandate was agreed at an ill-tempered EU summit last month and is already being put into question in some capitals.

Poland has been particularly vocal about re-opening a key part of the agreement on EU voting rights.

But Mr Barroso reiterated previous comments that the treaty outline should not be undone.

"There is a principle of good faith. For me it is as important as any legal commitment," he said. "It is inconceivable that an agreement that was agreed unanimously in June is reopened now."

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.

Exclusive

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 tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Magazine

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.

Magazine

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. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us