Saturday

22nd Feb 2020

EU to lay out strategic plan after election shock

  • Leaders' dinner. Cameron (r) said: 'Brussels has gotten too big, too bossy' (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

EU leaders meeting in Brussels Tuesday (27 May) agreed the EU must be more strategic in its approach and clearer about the division of powers between local and European level.

At an informal meeting in Brussels, politicians had a first stock-taking since an EP vote at the weekend that shook up the traditional political order in several member states, including France, the UK, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, and Greece.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

With far-right, eurosceptic, and anti-establishment parties represented much more strongly in the incoming parliament, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy said that voters sent a "strong message" which was at the "heart" of the meeting's dicussions.

He said the EU must set "strategic" priorities for the coming years, focusing on economic growth, jobs, a "more developed" economic and monetary union, climate change, and energy union.

Touching on migration – EU freedom of movement has caused some of the most heated debates in members states – Van Rompuy said "key freedoms" must be preserved "while ensuring security and fighting irregular migration, crime and fraud".

EU institutions have achieved "common understanding on what should best be done at European and what at national level" said Van Rompuy.

British leader David Cameron has led the reform-the-EU charge. On the way into the meeting he said: "The EU cannot just shrug off these [EU election] results and carry on as before.

"We need change that recognises that Brussels has gotten too big, too bossy, too interfering. We need more nation states, Europe only where necessary."

Van Rompuy plans to talk with EU leaders individually about what changes they think are needed and will turn their input into a "strategic agenda" paper to be discussed at another summit towards the end of June.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "A strong message is needed that we are shaping Europe so it becomes more functional, to better respond to the needs of people."

She also underlined France's key symbolic and political place in the EU, after French voters caused an earthquake by giving the lion's share of their ballots to Marine Le Pen's anti-EU, populist National Front party.

"France is defining for the EU and the eurozone. As Germans we have the utmost interest that France is on a successful track. I will do whatever I can for France to be on a growth track, otherwise it is not possible for the eurozone to regain its stability."

French President Francois Hollande noted that while the different member states had different voting results, the EU vote could be characterized by a rise in the number of eurosceptics and a low turnout.

He called the National Front's success a "trauma for France and for Europe" and said voters need to be listened to.

No breakthrough at EU budget summit

EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock

Cuts to innovation, space, neighbourhood and other programme-spending push down the latest budget proposal on the table of EU leaders. Rebates could stay on, to win the support of the net-payers for a deal.

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

Insight

How big is Germany's far-right problem?

The Hanau shooting was a national wake-up call to the scale of far-right extremism in Germany, from violent individuals to political hate speech.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

Opinion

Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy

The EU could blow up the Kosovo-Serbia negotiations' reset. Should Miroslav Lajčák indeed be appointed, the two senior EU diplomats dealing with Kosovo would both come from the small minority of member states that do not recognise Kosovo.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us