Monday

25th Jun 2018

Multi-speed Europe is a warning, EU official says

  • EU 27 leaders will gather in this room on Friday to prepare the declaration on the future of Europe (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The possibility of a multi-speed Europe should not be an objective, but a warning to all of Europe, a senior EU official said on Tuesday (7 March) as EU leaders gather in Brussels to discuss which way the bloc should be headed after the UK leaves.

Twenty-seven EU leaders will gather on the second day of the EU summit on Friday (10 March) to prepare the message for the Rome summit later this month, aimed at commemorating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaty which gave birth to European integration.

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.

... our join as a group

Germany, France, Italy and Spain have endorsed the idea of multi-speed Europe, in which some countries could forge ahead with deeper integration, even if others do not want to follow suit. A similar Benelux paper has been circulated at the Malta summit in early February.

But some Nordic and eastern European countries are wary of making multi-speed Europe an official policy of the EU after Brexit, fearing it could lead to disintegration of the bloc or disadvantages for them.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker came out last week with a white paper, which spelled out 5 possible scenarios for the EU's future, one of them being a multi-speed Europe.

While member states have already had the opportunity to move closer together on various areas where others don't want to, under the so-called enhanced cooperation scheme, further economic and political integration has always been the core driving narrative of the EU.

However, a senior EU official said the Rome summit should not be about that, but rather a display of unity among the 27 member states.

"After Brexit, Rome should be not a message of disunity, but the unity of 27," he told journalists.

The official acknowledged that the final decision rests with leaders but argued "if in Rome a new baby is to be born of the 27, the name of it should be Unity, not Multi-speed"

"Multi-speed should not be seen as an objective, but it is a warning ... It is a warning to all of us," he added, referring to possible disintegration.

But this view is bound to clash with the EU's founding members' efforts to integrate more deeply, and have a reference to that in the Rome declaration.

With elections coming up this year in three of them, the Netherlands, France and Germany, they feel time is running out amidst rising populism and nationalism.

"This is the moment to say we want to go ahead with a different method of integration," an EU diplomat told EUobserver.

A typical EU-type solution could be to have a reference to the possibility of member states integrating further, while providing safeguards to other countries so that it won't be detrimental to them.

The Rome meeting is being prepared by EU commission president Juncker, European Council president Donald Tusk, Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni, and Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

No document on the future of Europe is expected to emerge from the meeting of 27 EU leaders on Friday.

The Rome declaration itself is also expected to be short, much like the Berlin Declaration that marked the 50th anniversary of the the Treaty of Rome in 2007.

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.

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.

Hollande: EU will be multi-speed or will 'explode'

The French president, who is hosting a meeting with the German, Italian and Spanish leaders, says that EU countries must be able to integrate further on economy, defence or research and calls for a eurozone budget.

Analysis

Greece facing post-bailout challenges

Creditors are expected to agree Thursday on a final loan and debt relief measures for Greece. After eight years on an international lifeline, the country will remain under close surveillance - but will have to find a new economic model.

News in Brief

  1. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  2. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  3. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  4. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  5. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  6. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  7. EU adopts posted workers directive
  8. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  4. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  5. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  11. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  12. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform

Latest News

  1. Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability
  2. Ponytailed green MEP joins 'the other side of the table'
  3. EU leaders still in search of migration plan
  4. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  5. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  6. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  7. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  8. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us