Senior EU politician calls for further treaty changes to boost integration


Further EU treaty changes and a round of referendums will be needed after the next European Parliament elections, a senior politician has insisted.

Speaking at a panel discussion to mark 40 years of UK membership of the EU, Guy Verhofstadt - a former Belgian prime minister and the current leader of the parliament's liberal group - said the current crisis showed "a failure in the way we govern Europe".

He called for a treaty change to allow for further political and economic integration, particularly for those countries in the eurozone.

However his Conservative group counterpart, Martin Callanan, argued that the EU as a concept "has no demos" behind it.

"Democracy means an affinity with institutions, a common space, but that doesn't exist," he said.

Also speaking at the event - hosted by the European Parliament's London office - was Labour's shadow Europe minister, Emma Reynolds, who said that current policies of the Coalition government towards the EU "make our partners doubt our commitment to Europe".

Leading EU academic Professor Simon Hix, from the London School of Economics, suggested that the next round of elections to the European Parliament in May 2014 could be the first to focus on largely "European issues", rather than being fought on primarily national arguments.

He pointed out that for the first time the major political blocs in the European Parliament will be fielding candidates for the post of European Commission president.

"That will change the debate about Europe - what kind of Europe do we want?" he concluded.

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