Monday

21st Jan 2019

Juncker: 'Time to deepen European integration'

  • 'The time has come to deepen the European integration instead of re-introducing national divisions' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

There is never going to be a United States of Europe, but the EU needs to show its partners where it is heading if it wants to be taken seriously, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday (16 March).

"We have to deepen economic and monetary union for a simple reason: Our monetary union is not optimal. We have an independent central bank. But we don't have a European government. So we have to have rules to replace the non-existent European government," said Juncker.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He indicated that simple facts on the ground may soon leave the EU without the luxury of debating where it wants to go and its position in the world.

By the middle of the century, he noted, Europeans will represent just seven percent of the world's population. "We are the smallest continent. Our relative part of the global GDP will shrink. Not one single European country will be a member of the G7 in 25 years from now. We will disappear in terms of our economic weight."

"So the time has come to deepen European integration instead of re-introducing national divisions."

His comments came after talks on further economic and monetary integration were restarted last week. A meeting on Wednesday evening brought together representatives from the 28 member states, as well as the main EU institutions.

The meeting was the first attempt to re-examine the issue since a paper on "genuine economic and monetary union" was presented by Herman Van Rompuy, the then European Council President, in summer 2013.

The Van Rompuy report was subsequently largely ignored, mainly because it contained controversial ideas such as a separate budget for the eurozone and common debt issuance.

The Juncker report is to be presented in June. This time it is the commission steering the contents of the debate. Yet the problems related to the unfinished architecture of eurozone remain the same.

Meanwhile, the discussions are taking place as Greece is once more in the headlines as it seeks, against a tight deadline and emptying national coffers, to strike a deal with its creditors on securing the next tranche of bailout money.

Juncker, speaking at a Friends of Europe event in Brussels, said the report is "essential" because the "the world watching us from outside does not know where we are going."

He said the "final destination" of monetary integration should be spelt out because it "raises an enormous amount of quesitons, particularly when it comes to how the eurozone is represented externally".

Juncker, who has been commission president since autumn last year, and has been in and around the EU scene as a minister and prime minister for Luxembourg since the early 1990s, noted that the EU made itself look "ridiculous" with its multi-layered representation at bodies such as the International Monetary Fund.

Revival of the community method?

He also indicated that he intends to re-calibrate the balance of power between the EU's institutions, so that the commission is again the political driver in Brussels.

In recent years, the European Council, the EU leaders' forum, has taken centre stage battling the euro crisis and telling the commission when to iniate legislation.

Juncker said he wanted a "strong alliance" with the European Parliament which should "stand up against all attacks" that might come from "the third institution" he said, making an indirect reference to the council.

But he also noted that "we will never have a united states of Europe" saying "we have to detach ourselves from the idea that we can construct Europe against its nations."

He said European citizens do not want a Europe where all the "cultural, political, literary, artistic" would disappear.

It remains a one-of-a-kind construction and does not follow any "examples", he added.

Juncker urged to revive 'Social Europe' model

The ‘Social Europe’ model must be revived if the EU is to avoid lumbering itself with low social mobility and other economic millstones, according to a new report.

Opinion

Deepening Eurozone integration

A report on deepening eurozone integration is being prepared for June's EU summit. "Let’s focus on stability first," recommends the Czech Republic.

Eurozone should have own treasury by 2025

Eurozone states should cede more powers to EU institutions, including to a euro area treasury to be set-up in the next 10 years, a new report says.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us