Monday

27th Mar 2017

Maltese PM hails pope, calls for multispeed EU

  • Muscat: The EU needs to "go ahead with multispeed Europe". (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

Pope Francis's "insight will be extremely important for Europe's future," said Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat on Monday (27 February), while criticising the EU's "lack of leadership".

"Pope Francis is the ultimate world leader who has the skills and vision to say things that transcend banalities," Muscat said in Valletta ahead of next month's Rome summit.

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.

The Social-Democratic PM, whose country holds the current EU presidency, added that the Roman Catholic leader may "provide things other politicians miss".

Muscat was speaking at the opening of a forum on migration and the EU neighbourhood, organised by the Institute Jacques Delors as part of the Maltese EU presidency programme.

He said that EU leaders were "looking for ideas" on how to address the migration crisis and there was "evidence that there is a lack of international leadership" to solve the crisis.

He said that EU leaders were faced with "a legitimate demand for protection" from Europe's people but that the only answer offered up to now was protectionism.

"It's now time for mainstream political movement to focus on these things and not leave a vacuum" for protectionist forces, he said.

He also said that the EU needs to "go ahead with multi-speed Europe".

"If the only way of staying united is doing nothing," then some EU member states should integrate further to be able to act, he noted.

He said that with "the composition and structure" of today's EU, a multi-speed Europe was needed when it comes to security and social issues.


Muscat's comment is the latest among EU leaders, including Juncker and Merkel, about a multi-speed Europe.

The EU heads of state and government will gather in Rome next month to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaty, where they will issue a declaration on the future of the EU.


This week, the European Commission is expected to publish a white paper to lay out its vision for the EU, following commission president Jean-Claude Juncker saying last week that the EU could "do many things together, but this is no longer a time when we can imagine everyone doing the same thing together."

At a summit in Valletta, in early February, German chancellor Angela Merkel noted that "that there will be an EU with different speeds [and] that not everyone will take part in the same levels of integration".

Last year, after Brexit, EU leaders had ruled out treaty changes as a response to citizens' defiance of the EU. But the election of Donald Trump and his support for rising anti-EU forces has changed the situation, and treaty change is back on the agenda, an EU source recently told EUobserver.

Juncker envisages EU of core groups

Commission head Juncker say EU states which want deeper integration should press ahead in core groups, in reaction to the UK’s departure.

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.

EU's big four back 'multi-speed' Europe

Leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain support forging ahead with European integration in a post-Brexit world, even if it means deepening cracks among EU member states.

EPP pushes for multi-speed Europe

The centre-right European party has presented its strategy to preserve the EU's security and values and presents a multi-speed union as a "necessity", given the circumstances.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  2. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  3. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  4. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  6. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  7. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  8. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  10. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  11. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  12. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People