EBS: EU must change or face collapse, warns Verhofstadt

Written by Martin Banks on 24 May 2017 in Event Coverage
Event Coverage

Parliament's ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt has warned that the EU faces collapse unless it implements sweeping reforms.

Guy Verhofstadt | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

Speaking on the opening day of the European Business Summit in Brussels, the Belgian MEP said that events such as Brexit represented warning signs for the EU.

"The EU has to change, otherwise there is the risk it will collapse one day," he told a session debating the future of Europe.

Verhofstadt, Parliament's negotiator on Brexit, told the audience that a domino effect that some had feared after the UK voted to leave the EU had not materialised.


He said, "Public opinion about the EU has, if anything, become more favourable since the Brexit vote and fears of a Grexit or Frexit have simply not happened."

The former Belgian Prime Minister added, "However, the big mistake would be to think that we can return to 'business as usual.'

"It would be a mistake to think that, with the election of a pro-EU president in France, that things can return to normal.

"This is not the case and we need to take heed of what the public are saying: that the EU has to change."

He added, "The future of the EU lies in the hands of a new generation of politicians but they have to realise that the public want change. They are very critical of the way the EU is today and they have every reason to feel that way.

"The people, in elections in the Netherlands, France and elsewhere, have said that they want to give politicians another chance. The public is not against the EU, but just the way it is currently run."

Verhofstadt was also highly critical of the current EU budget which, he said, fell well short of what was needed.

He said the budget for the 28 member states was equivalent to just one per cent of Europe's overall GDP.

He asked, "How on earth can we govern Europe with just one per cent of GDP? Some 80 per cent of the EU budget comes from member states and is paid back, almost immediately, to them. One of the challenges we face is to change the way the EU is financed."


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

Interested in this content?

Sign up to our free daily email bulletins.


Share this page



Related Partner Content

PM+: EU must strengthen eastern and southern neighbourhood in fight against radicalism
16 July 2015

Secularism, as a bulwark to radicalisation, should be a key EU foreign policy priority, argues the European Foundation for Democracy's Tommaso Virgili.

World Water Day: Providing universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is a huge challenge
21 March 2016

But with the European Union's support of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, clean water can become a reality that transforms our world, writes WaterAid’s Margaret Batty.

The need to counter extremist propaganda more effectively
13 December 2016

There are different reasons why people believe in extremist ideologies or join extremist groups, explains Alexander Ritzmann.