19th Mar 2018

Parliament chief: 'the EU is not in a good state'

  • The European Parliament - powerful but not very loved by ordinary people (Photo:

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz has admitted that some of London's concerns about the EU are valid and that it is no longer acceptable to dismiss those who are critical of the EU as simply being eurosceptic.

In a press conference to mark the new year Schulz said he shared some of the "unease" with the EU that UK prime minister David Cameron outlined in a widely-reported speech earlier in the week.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"This unease with the EU as it now is, is something that I share. I think there are many people in Europe who also have this unease" said Schulz. "And that's why I would really recommend that we don't label everyone who criticises the EU as a eurosceptic."

"The EU is not in a good state. We have to do better."

As flaws he pointed to the economic developments that have lead to more "social injustice" and a democratic deficit which he said was not so much to do with the European institutions themselves but rather with opaque EU decision-making

"Why do EU institutions meet behind closed doors. Everything that happens behind closed doors is anonymous and leaves open great room for interpretation." He suggested this only prolongs the practice of member states blaming the EU when things go wrong and taking credit for positive developments.

Much of the legitimacy criticism about the EU concerns the future role of national parliaments when issues considered to be the core of a sovereign state - such as budget policy - are increasingly being decided in Brussels.

Schulz suggested the EU should focus on what individual states cannot do on their own and at the same time be more willing to delegate to the local level. "We should be quite ready to delegate some of the smaller issues to member states."

"I would like to discuss that in this parliament," he said.

The German politician indicated he had undergone something of an epiphany since he first came to Brussels 19 years ago.

"When I first came here I was convinced we would have a united states of Europe. I really saw it as a kind of United States of America on European territory."

Since then he has realised "we are not going to make Texans out of the Germans or Californians out of the French."

The EU's democratic legitimacy issue is increasingly flagged by politicians. In his speech, David Cameron said there is a feeling in Britain, but also elsewhere in Europe, that the EU "is done to people rather than acting on their behalf."

But while there is awareness of the problem there is little agreement on what to do about it. One diplomat recently noted that politicians stress the central importance of democracy and involving national parliaments but in summit statements the issue regularly appears in the "and finally" part.


On Cameron, Europe and other demons

The UK could play a leading role in the process of reforming and strengthening the EU, possibly THE leading role, writes Nikos Chrysoloras.

Parliament chief criticises 'Frankenstein Europe'

The EU's current institutional set-up resembles a 'Frankenstein' monster because there is no democratic separation of powers, European Parliament chief Martin Schulz has said.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere