Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

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.

Focus

Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020

A committee resolution said the proposal to renew the glyphosate permit for a decade "fails to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment".

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks