The bold remarks were made by Austria’s chancellor right ahead of the EU leaders summit in Romania, where he is expected to table his proposals. In order to “reserve” the EU, the bloc needs a new fundamental agreement instead of the Lisbon Treaty, Kurz believes.
“Many, above all the younger heads of government, know that we must change the European Union if we want to reserve it,” Kurz told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Thursday. “Various heads of government among the liberals but also within the [conservative] European People’s Party have a similar view to me.”
Kurz did not elaborate on who these like-minded politicians are exactly, while leaders of the EU countries seem to be quite silent about the prospects of any amendments to the bloc’s treaty. The changes, proposed by Austria’s chancellor include introduction of penalties for countries that have been taking in way too many migrants and have large – and growing – debts, while leeching from the bloc.
“We are talking here about countries that gladly take our money and are fully prepared to cash in,” Kurz stated.
While he did not name any country in particular, the jab appears to be aimed at the southern members of the EU, such as Greece and Italy, as well as Hungary, given earlier statements by Kurz. Austria has recently clashed with all the aforementioned countries over migrant handling, budget, and rule of law issues, respectively.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz with his EU colleagues © REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
“We need a new treaty with clear sanctions against member states that increase debt, penalties for countries that do not register illegal migrants and wave them through, as well as tough consequences for violations of the rule of law and liberal democracy,” Kurz said earlier this month.
He has also called for shrinking the European Commission and ending what he called “the travelling circus of the EU Parliament.” Members of the Parliament convene for one week every month in Strasbourg, France and in Brussels for the other three weeks. The moving back and forth costs the union some €114 million ($127.54 million) a year. While Kurz called for closure of the Strasbourg headquarters, the proposal was firmly opposed to in Paris.
Given the cumbersome process of changing the EU treaty, that requires unanimous agreement of all the member states – and even referendums in some countries, it’s quite unlikely that Kurz’s proposals will flesh out anytime soon. In any case, that definitely won’t happen before the upcoming EU Parliament elections, scheduled to take place between May 23 and 26. The elections are expected to be a major success for Eurosceptic parties, opinion polls indicate, and pro-EU forces have already sounded alarms that it might “paralyze” the bloc altogether.
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