Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

MEPs to set up anti-intergovernmentalism group

Alarmed at what they see as a rise in the European Union of 'intergovernmentalism' some euro-deputies are mounting a counter-offensive to promote the importance of the EU and its institutions.

To be known as the Spinelli group, after the Italian political thinker Altiero Spinelli and one of the "founding fathers" of the EU, the idea is the brainchild of Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the liberal group in the parliament, and his Green counterpart, Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

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  • Guy Verhofstadt - the former Belgian PM, a federalist, can often be heard lamenting the state of the EU (Photo: European Commission)

Other MEPs involved are Sylvie Goulard, a French liberal, and Isabelle Durant, a Belgian Green. The fledgling group also has the support of Jacques Delors, the grand old man of European federalism known for presiding over the European Commission at one of the most dynamic and powerful times in its history.

Mario Monti is also involved. A former competition commissioner, he recently wrote a well-received study on the importance of completing the internal market.

The details of the group are to be unveiled by Mr Verhofstadt and Mr Cohn-Bendit on Wednesday (15 September).

The remit of the group remains vague, but a 500-word memo explaining the reasoning behind it laments the growth of intergovernmentalism - - the supremacy of EU member states in decision-making at the expense of more 'European' pan-community decision-making via the European Commission and parliament - and says there should be European responses to crises.

"The organisation will be civil society based, bringing together think tanks, academics, writers and politicians who support the aims and principles laid out in the founding manifesto," said a statement by Mr Verhofstadt.

The group will "make the case for closer European integration and stand up against encroaching nationalism and intergovernmentalism that is beginning to undermine European unity," it continues.

The initiative comes on top of a tumultuous few months for the EU. The 27-nation bloc has been buffeted by the economic crisis and is still try to find its feet within the new legal architecture, the Lisbon Treaty.

The European Commission, charged with finding European solutions in such areas as economic governance, has been struggling to make its presence felt as member states have been dictating the pace of discussions over the last few months.

Both Mr Verhofstadt and Mr Cohn-Bendit are among the strongest critics of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, whom they regularly attack in plenary as not being combative enough with potentially wayward member states.

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