Sunday

25th Feb 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.

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.

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.

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress

Italians, Czechs and Latvians perceive less corruption than a few years ago in Transparency International's annual ranking. The Berlin-based NGO said Finland was a 'worrying case', whilst Bulgaria - which holds the EU presidency - is EU's most corrupt.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table