13th Dec 2018

Prodi issues call to arms

  • ROMANO PRODI - "There is nothing anti-American in what I am saying." (Photo: European Commission)

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, on Wednesday, told EU leaders that it was time to militarise or be left by the wayside.

In a keynote address to the European Parliament, Mr Prodi said "The moment of truth for Europe's foreign and defence policy has come."

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

"The choice is clear: do we want to be left out, all of us, from the management of world affairs? Or do we want to play a part, on an equal footing with our allies, in building a new world order?"

Mr Prodi sought to impel EU institutions and national governments to support building joint defence capabilities by upping the stakes considerably, claiming Europes very future may hang on the way it faces up to the current crisis.

Do not miss the opportunity

The Presidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe is due to submit defence proposals next month after its President, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing meets with heads of state in Athens.

The Commission's president would like to see the recommendations go further beyond merely the results of the convension's working group, which did not even reach agreement over member states having the duty to defend each other if one is attacked.

"I appeal to all its members: let us not waste this opportunity!" he pleaded.

His intervention was broadly backed by parliamentarians who feel estranged with what Green leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit described as the US' mission to "free the world with the help of god."

Mini summit welcomed

Mr Prodi welcomed a Belgian initiative - backed by France, Germany and Luxembourg - to hold a mini summit on augmenting the EU's defence capabilities.

The meeting is scheduled for the 29 April in Brussels, shortly after leaders meet in Athens.

He stressed that the door should be left open for all member states to join in, but told journalists later that a "more cooperative stance from some member governments" was needed.

The UK has so far been luke warm about the prospect fearing such a move would undermine NATO and so Europe's partnership with the US.

President of the Parliament Pat Cox was of a different opinion. "A series of mini-Europes falls short of the one Europe we need and want."

A proxy war

Mr Prodi's spokesman later denied reports that the president wanted to see the end of NATO.

"The view of the President is that NATO should in future have two strong pillars, an American and a European one. In fact, the President wants to strengthen NATO. "

But the message was clear, Europe will not be dictated to.

"We Europeans are not from Venus, as some would have us believe. The peoples of this old Europe have a long and bloodthirsty past behind us" Mr Prodi said in what will be seen as a snipe at some in the current US administration.

"A past that has taught us to base our Union in law and to work for an international order founded on right, not on might. But we know that humanitarian policies alone are not enough. And it is not enough to outstrip the other main players in the area of development aid policy."

"We know the world will not take heed of us until we put an end to our divisions. Until we stop relying on the European Union for economic growth and the United States for security" Mr Prodi said, before insisting "there is nothing anti-American in what I am saying."

COP24: Vanuatu in 'constant state of emergency' on climate

Ralph Regenvanu, foreign minister of the Pacific island Vanuatu, said at the COP24 talks in Poland it was disappointing the host country was promoting coal - but was happy with EU contributions to tackle climate change.

EU rules out Brexit renegotiation, again

EU officials have warned they will not reopen the UK withdrawal text no matter what happens on Britain's political scene. The EU summit is expected to give a statement on backstop, but no legal assurances.

MEPs and EU staff hid from Strasbourg gunman

MEPs and others hid in restaurants and alleys in Strasbourg during a gunman's rampage on Tuesday which left at least three dead and France on emergency alert.

News in Brief

  1. Top court says EU changed diesel emission limits illegally
  2. May survives vote, heading to EU summit
  3. EU institutions agree reform of citizens initiative
  4. Spain follows France with boost to minimum wage
  5. US rejects EU-backed proposal to reform WTO
  6. Hungary votes to create new court overseen by government
  7. Polish PM calls confidence vote in EU judicial clash
  8. MEPs urge Russia to free Ukrainian prisoners

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Orban defies EU with 'rubber-stamp' court
  2. Raw materials: 'holy grail' of 21st century industrial policy
  3. COP24: Vanuatu in 'constant state of emergency' on climate
  4. EU rules out Brexit renegotiation, again
  5. Deja vu: Bulgaria pipeline to face EU scrutiny
  6. MEPs and EU staff hid from Strasbourg gunman
  7. 'Trumped Up': The curious case of Babis' conflicts of interest
  8. EU rules out Brexit changes, but could help May

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us