18th Mar 2018

EU founding states pledge deeper integration

The six founding members of the EU have recommitted to building an “ever closer union”, but they have acknowledged differences with other states and for the first time they have backed a “two-speed” Europe.

At informal talks on Tuesday (9 February) in Rome, where the bloc’s founding treaty was signed in 1957, the foreign ministers of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands underscored that for them answers to the EU’s challenges lay in more integration, not less.

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.

In a nod to Britain, they acknowledged that not every country should have to agree.

"We firmly believe that the European Union remains the best answer we have for today's challenges and allows for different paths of integration," their joint statement said.

"We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe.”

Solidarity under threat

London has demanded that the treaty commitment to pursue an “ever closer union” not apply to the UK, as part of British PM David Cameron’s set of proposals to be agreed next week at an EU summit before holding a referendum on its membership of the bloc.

While the “two-speed” EU has already become a reality, with 19 members using the euro and not all members participating in the passport-free Schengen area, officially enshrining the different pace at which member states integrate has been a political taboo for European elites.

At the low-key event, the foreign ministers acknowledged that the EU was facing "very challenging times" due to the migration crisis and the threat posed by terrorism.

They argued that Europe was “successful when we overcome narrow self-interest in the spirit of solidarity”.

That spirit of solidarity has been eroded somewhat by the euro debt crisis, where eurozone countries were asked to bail out each other, and with the migration crisis in which member states that have taken in most of the asylum seekers have asked others, in vain, to share the burden.

The crises have shaken both the euro and the Schengen zone.

EU's 'hardest moment'

The UK’s demands also reinforced the notion that some member states want less from the EU, not more.

London’s request to drop the commitment to political union and boost safeguards for non-eurozone members while reinforcing the single market has found support from eastern member states including Hungary and Poland.

After the meeting, Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said: “Without any doubt, Europe is going through one of its hardest moments since its foundation around 60 years ago.”

Tuesday's talks were called by Italy, whose centre-left government wants the core EU countries to go ahead with further integration.

The foreign ministers also pledged to fight terrorism and racism, and safeguard common values.

“More must be done to prevent radicalisation and develop a counter-narrative,” their statement said.

“This also means fighting the enemies of our fundamental values. We confirmed the need to further reinforce action against terrorist threats, in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law.”


Renzi plots EU collision course

Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi has stepped up his fiery anti-EU rhetoric. This may boost his support at home, but it may eventually backfire.

EU states tentatively approve draft UK deal

EU capitals are still studying the small print of the Tusk-Cameron deal, but some, including in eastern Europe, gave cautious backing for the pact despite earlier concern on welfare rights of EU workers.

Juncker foresees two-speed Europe

EU commission president said that eventually there will have to be a two-speed Europe, in which core countries will work together more closely than with others.


Germany reluctant to lead Europe in case of Brexit

The German political elite is holding its breath before the UK vote: Brexit could mean Berlin would be once again forced to take the lead in Europe, something it doesn't want.


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