24th Sep 2020

EU must progress without London, says Belgian PM

The EU should go ahead and further integrate without the UK if it attempts to block a new constitutional treaty, Belgium's prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has said.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said he expected the German EU presidency "not just to have put down a roadmap for the new constitution by the end of June, but also an outline of the content."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • "We can't talk about European integration and then always look to the slowest in the EU" - Guy Verhofstadt (Photo: European Commission)

"Only then is it guaranteed that an intergovernmental conference will really be short and that the necessary changes can go into force by the upcoming European election in summer 2009."

Asked about what the EU should do if the UK blocks an agreement on a new treaty, Mr Verhofstadt said "then the train has to drive on anyway."

"Should the British government block the new attempt for agreement on the constitutional treaty, then the European Union must progress without Great Britain."

The prime minister, who has one of the most federalist visions among EU leaders today, said that while a two-speed Europe is "is not an ideal picture," if it is not possible to get all countries on board for further integration then those that want to should push through "more cooperation in economic, social and justice policy within the euro-zone."

Drawing parallels from across the Atlantic, he said "the United States of America also did not come about in unison. At the time, only nine of the 13 British crown colonies voted in favour. The rest tailed behind and accepted the agreement later."

The Belgian leaders words come as EU leaders gather in Brussels today with part of their discussions this evening to be devoted to drawing up a text to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome later this month.

The text is being seen as a precursor to discussions on the EU constitution itself with Berlin already struggling to get this short document to a state that is acceptable by all 27 governments.

Meanwhile, Germany is also sounding out opinions on the constitution – rejected in two referendums in 2005 – and aims to have its ideas on the table by its end-of-presidency summit in June.

However its efforts to get a clear picture are being hampered by the political uncertainty in France, which is facing elections in April and May, as well as by the UK, indicating that it would be happier without any new constitution at all.

MEPs fearful of 'red zone' Strasbourg plenary

Parliament president David Sassoli is to make the final decision on travelling to Strasbourg ahead of the leadership and parliamentary group chairs meeting on Thursday.


Beyond Salvini: the rise of Eurosceptic Giorgia Meloni

There is only one woman among Italy's most-powerful politicians: Giorgia Meloni, 43, president of Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), an ultra-conservative party allied with Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Forward Italy).

EU leaders urge Putin to push for Belarus dialogue

European Council president Charles Michel, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel had each one of them a call with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (18 August) on the situation in Belarus, calling for dialogue.

News in Brief

  1. German foreign minister in coronavirus quarantine
  2. Report: Roma life expectancy '10 years lower'
  3. US corona death toll passes 200,000
  4. Greece and Turkey agree to resume talks in Istanbul
  5. Seven countries found MidEast energy forum, without Turkey
  6. Four more states join EU medical strategic stockpile
  7. Malta police arrest chief of staff of ex-PM
  8. EP pushing for effective rule-of-law mechanism


On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link
  2. EU states struggle to better sync Covid-19 measures
  3. EP groups drop homophobe from Sakharov prize
  4. Legal complaint filed with EU Commission over migration
  5. Coronavirus: Will a second wave divide Europe again?
  6. Coronavirus: the Swedish model was worth emulating
  7. Time to fix Europe's broken migration and asylum system
  8. Covid-19: How is Eastern Europe bracing for a second wave?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us