Sunday

30th Apr 2017

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

  • The European Parliament - powerful but not very loved by ordinary people (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

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.

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.

"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.

Opinion

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.

EPP group frustrated with Orban

Orban's ruling Fidesz party is getting too much to handle for the EPP group, as they are once again forced to defend the Hungarian premier's controversial actions.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual