24th Jun 2021

Barroso lists top five values for EU birthday text

  • Environment is climbing the EU agenda (Photo: Wikipedia)

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Brussels should be included in the preparation of a highly symbolic 50 year anniversary declaration on the future of Europe.

The statement should look ahead to the next 50 years of the EU and "must fully involve the Parliament and the Commission," Mr Barroso said before MEPs and in the presence of german chancellor Angela Merkel, currently heading the bloc.

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Talking animatedly, the Portuguese politician presented the statement as the next significant step in the EU's history, comparing it to when the founding fathers of the union, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, first considered their vision for the continent over half a century ago.

"I think today's leaders should stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers, and look ahead to the next 50 years. To the challenges which could not be imagined in 1957 but which Europe must face in 2007."

The commission president went on to outline five points he thought should be covered in the statement, including: solidarity, accountability, security of European citizens and promoting European values in the world.

Green convert

A recent convert to the importance of fighting climate change - it is said because of the long-term economic benefits it will bring - Mr Barroso also put environmental matters in his five points to be included in the 50th anniversary declaration.

"The fight against climate change, through energy and other policies, should be a defining mission for Europe's future," said the commission president.

He has also asked for the climate change issue to be inserted into the EU's constitutional treaty with talks soon to start between member states on how to revive the document, in political limbo since it was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The commission's sudden interest in matters green has seen it strike a unilateral note on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (proposing a 20% decrease for the bloc by 2020), tackling pollution emissions from all airplanes coming in to the EU from 2012 and making a strong commitment to biofuels.

However, Mr Barroso's aim to put the climate change battle into the constitution raises it to a new status.

It is reminiscent of a recent proposal by Liberal MEP Andrew Duff to include issues that specifically address citizens' concerns in the document, making it more accessible

For her part, chancellor Merkel was supportive of Mr Barroso's ideas for the declaration.

"I can assure him [Mr Barroso] I will back him up on these points," she said.

She added the declaration would be "shaped by the parliament, commission and the council" but did not say concretely how MEPs and the commission would be involved, with Berlin keen to keep the numbers of people directly working on the anniversary document at a minimum so the exercise does not become too unwieldy.

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