20th Mar 2019

Europe is at a crossroads, says Commission

  • "We must launch a period of European renewal", says Mr Barroso (Photo: European Commission)

The European Union is at a crossroads and needs to get back in touch with large sections of the population is the message contained in a new five-year programme for the 25-nation bloc.

Unveiled by Commission president José Manuel Durao Barroso on Wednesday (26 January), the 13-page plan refers to a gap between a "significant section" of the public and decisions taken in Brussels.

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.

... or join as a group

"The reasons for this reduced confidence are widespread and include sluggish economic growth, heightened feelings of economic and personal insecurity, fears of a loss of identity and a more general feeling of 'disconnect' between what happens in 'Brussels' and in people's everyday lives".

"Europe is therefore at a crossroad", says the report which lists the strategic objectives of the union under four main headings: prosperity, solidarity, security and freedom and Europe as a world partner.

The main body of the report contains little in the way of big visions. Its main emphasis is on economic growth with an aim "to take the Europe we have and make it work".

However, as he introduced the report, Mr Barroso urged a daring approach to Europe.

"We must release Europe's enormous untapped potential", said the commission president.

"I believe that we must embark on a process of transformation as bold and as courageous as the single market in 1985, the launch of the single currency or the unprecedented enlargement of the European Union to 25 member states."

The Commission president, who is considering dropping next week a headline goal of making Europe the most dynamic economy in the world by 2010, also used his speech to make a strong plea for more money to achieve its economic goals.

"All the Commission is asking, is to endow the Union with the financial translation of the commitments made at various European summits over the years".

He added: "We have come to a point where I hear proposals to reduce the Union budget even to a level below that of 2006 ... is this feasible, is this realistic?"

His words come as member states square up for a bitter fight over how much money to put into the EU's coffers between 2007-2013.

A bastion of member states, including France, Germany and the UK, are calling for a cap on the budget and have shown no sign of moving as the political deadline for agreement approaches.

Mr Barroso's five year plan was condemned by the Party of European Socialists as being "a thinly-disguised Neo-Conservative agenda" but the centre-right EPP said the programme is "realistic and at the same time ambitious".

Several other MEPs said the list of aims needing to be achieved was too long.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.

EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Germany and Belgium have put forward a proposal for a "peer review" of EU countries' legal systems as member states and EU institutions struggle with disciplining member states that break EU rules.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

EPP hits threshold to trigger Orban expulsion probe

At least seven national parties from Europe's biggest political alliance, the centre-right European People's Party, want the group's 'enfant terrible', Hungary's nationalist and authoritarian Fidesz kicked out - following Budapest's latest anti-EU campaign.

News in Brief

  1. EPP proposes suspension for Orban's Fidesz
  2. May asks for Brexit extension until 30 June
  3. Juncker: Brexit decision unlikely this week
  4. North Macedonia EU-membership talks set for June
  5. EU ups benefits rights for mobile workers
  6. Chinese leader visits Italy, France as Rome joins 'Silk Road'
  7. EU agrees to sanction political parties breaching data rules
  8. EPP votes Wednesday on future of Orban's party


Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery
  2. Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban
  3. A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension
  4. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  5. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  6. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance
  7. EU rolls out €525m for military projects, but bars illegal tech
  8. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us