Hollande: EU will be multi-speed or will ‘explode’

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A multi-speed Europe, where some countries integrate more than others, is necessary to avoid the bloc “exploding”, the French president has said ahead of a meeting of four countries to prepare plans.

“Europe at 27 cannot be anymore the uniform Europe at 27,” Francois Hollande said in an interview with six European newspapers published on Monday (6 March).

“For a long time, this idea of a differentiated Europe, with different speeds and distinct paces to progress, has provoked a lot of resistance. But today this idea is necessary. Otherwise Europe explodes,” he said.

Hollande gave interviews to France’s Le Monde, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Italy’s La Stampa, Spain’s La Vanguardia, Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza and Britain’s The Guardian. The interviews were held ahead of a meeting in Versailles on Monday between France, Germany, Italy and Spain, to prepare EU summits in Brussels next week and in Rome at the end of the month.

On 25 March, EU leaders will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaty, which founded the European Communities. They will publish a declaration in which they will “map out the prospects for the next 10 years,” Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni said last week.

The aim of the Versailles meeting, between the EU’s four largest countries, is to agree on a common position and push for a multi-speed EU when the UK leaves the EU.

In the future, Hollande said in the interview, “there will be a common pact, an internal market with a single currency for some”.

“On that base,” he added, “it will be possible, for member states who would want it, to go further on defence, on tax harmonisation, on research, on culture, on youth. We have to imagine degrees of integration.” …

Read more : EUObserver, 06.03.2017