Monday

5th Dec 2016

UK is EU's 'special' case, Barroso says

  • Barroso - the UK is a 'special' case in Europe (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The UK is Europe's "special" case, and EU leaders should find ways to accommodate its "specificity", Jose Manuel Barroso has said.

In a speech at the Humboldt university in Berlin on Thursday (8 May) where he set out his legacy and thoughts for the EU's future, the outgoing European Commission President stated that "for historical, geopolitical and economic reasons the case of the UK may be seen as a special one".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I passionately believe that Europe is stronger with the UK as its member, and that the UK is stronger as a member of the European Union than on its own."

But he indicated that the package of exemptions and opt-outs from EU policies secured by the UK could not be made available for other countries.

"We can, and should, find ways to cater to the UK's specificity, inasmuch as this does not threaten the union's overall coherence," Barroso said.

As well as being outside the Schengen passport-free area and holding the right to opt-out of a range of EU justice and home affairs policies, the UK is one of two countries to have an opt-out from the euro.

It has also indicated that, along with a handful of other countries outside the eurozone, it will stay outside the bloc's newly constructed banking union framework to be supervised by the European Central Bank. It is not a member of the EU's bailout fund and was the only country to oppose the Angela Merkel-inspired fiscal compact treaty on debt and deficit levels.

Barroso's remarks may encourage prime minister David Cameron who has promised to renegotiate his country's EU membership terms followed by an 'in/out' referendum if his Conservative party wins next year's general election.

The UK independence party, which calls for the UK to leave the EU, is narrowly ahead of the opposition Labour party, according to polls ahead of the European elections in a fortnight.

Barroso will leave the EU executive in autumn after 10 years as its chief.

The bloc's tortured attempts to ratify the Lisbon treaty following the collapse of the EU constitution dominated his first term in office.

The overhaul of the EU's banking legislation and economic governance rules, and austerity-heavy response to the eurozone debt crisis, were the hallmarks of his second five years.

Analysis

Austrian far-right: beaten, but not defeated

Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer's loss to Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen sent relief across Europe, but his party is still in a good position to head a government in the future.

Italy referendum spooks eurozone

Prime minister Matteo Renzi's resignation, followed by a crushing rejection of his reforms, has sent the euro plunging against the dollar and put the country's fragile banking system at risk.

News in Brief

  1. EU dismisses euro crisis risk after Italian referendum
  2. Italy result poses no risk to the EU, Sapin says
  3. EU asked to clarify links to Iran executions
  4. Italian economy minister tipped as caretaker PM
  5. EU tells US tech giants to act faster against hate speech
  6. Iceland's Pirates in bid to form government
  7. Danes are the happiest workers, study says
  8. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  2. CESICESI Congress Focuses on Future of Work, Public Services and Digitalisation
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  4. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  5. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  6. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  7. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  8. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  9. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  10. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  11. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)

Latest News

  1. No euro crisis after Italian vote, says EU
  2. Austrian far-right: beaten, but not defeated
  3. Czech, Slovak MEPs 'shocked' by EU comments on Castro
  4. Italy and visa-free travel on EU agenda This WEEK
  5. Italy referendum spooks eurozone
  6. Optimistic liberals look for more influence
  7. What the EU will learn from Trump's Taiwan blunder
  8. Liberals ponder Verhofstadt's chances for parliament top post