Sunday

28th Feb 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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."

Future of Europe: Nearly half of citizens want reforms

European Parliament president David Sassoli called for the Conference on the Future of Europe "to start as soon as possible". Meanwhile, nearly half of EU citizens would like to see reforms to the bloc.

EU parliament snubs anti-corruption researchers

Transparency International carried out three separate studies on integrity, of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council (representing member states). The European Parliament refused to cooperate.

Cyprus: a heavy caseload for new EU prosecutors office

The new European Public Prosecutor's office will become operational in March. It is tasked to carry out criminal fraud investigations of the EU budget. But of the 140 required European delegated prosecutors, only nine have so far set up office.

Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors

Last year's German EU presidency refused corporate sponsorships. But the new Portuguese presidency has decided they are needed and has signed three contracts. One of them is with one of Europe's largest paper companies, The Navigator Company.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders restate defence 'autonomy' plan
  2. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  3. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  4. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  5. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  6. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  7. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  8. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us