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Brexit continues to fascinate EU media

Most serious EU media continue to widely comment on the UK’s EU referendum and the necessity to rethink the European Union. The result of the British referendum not only affected the United Kingdom, but also the entire European Union. All EU leaders highlight the need for measures aiming to offer more credibility to Brussels and beat the Eurosceptic trend which has become quite powerful latterly.

However, while the debate on the future of the European Union continues, divisions among EU leaders are getting wider. In an interview in Il Mattino, former premier and former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi stresses that European governments should stop arguing with each other and start working on a stronger cohesion and on common interests. The Times and Magyar Nemzet report that European Parliament President Martin Schulz has called for a “true government” of Europe following the British vote to leave the European Union, amid concerns over the future of the EU.

According to La Tribune, French Minister for Economic Affairs Emmanuel Macron recommends to act over a short and a long-term period by boosting the euro area and implementing a European project on 15 years based on common values. This project should be submitted to a referendum at a European level.

Several media refer to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble as saying that the “intergovernmental approach” is the only answer to the political crisis Brexit triggered. Governments must take on the responsibility to strengthen the EU and react. Ten days after the British referendum, “the Juncker Commission has to give up on its dream to embody a European government for good,” Le Figaro’s Jean-Jacques Mével writes.

In an in-depth interview granted to ITélé, Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, the organiser of the Aix-en-Provence economic meeting, says that the Brexit is “a political issue that questions, de facto, the legitimacy of the EU.” On the contrary, a piece in The New York Times says the Brexit result is being mistakenly seen as a vote against Brussels. Harald Schumann comments in Der Tagesspiegel that “the bitter irony” of the outcome of the British referendum is that the cause of the EU’s economic problems are not EU institutions but national governments.

In an interview with La Stampa, former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet says’ the UK’s Brexit decision will not mark the end of the EU. First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, is keeping the door open for the UK to return to the EU, De Telegraaf reports, thus distancing himself from the EC’s stance that Britain needs to leave the EU as quickly as possible. “After all, they are still a member of the EU,” he said as quoted by Nieuwsuur.

Many EU media outlets continue to criticise EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, and his failure to head the European Union. An editorial in The Times comments that Jean-Claude Juncker should be removed from his position as since his appointment two years ago he has “shown himself unfit to hold the job or even provide sensible, coherent solutions to the continent’s gathering problems.” In Diário de Notícias Bernardo Pires de Lima writes that despite the fact that EC Jean-Claude Juncker could be replaced, the damage he has done to the European project is unrecoverable.

Phileleftheros and The Sunday Times report that Germany is attempting to remove Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble referred to the establishing of a system that would bypass the Commission, noting that if the Commission is not in a position to assume the initiative, then member states should adopt their own intergovernmental cooperation, similar to the one of the Eurozone.

In an opinion piece in La Tribune, Romaric Godin writes that Angela Merkel is “disappointed” by President Juncker and reportedly considers him as “part of the EU’s problem,” echoed by several EU media. According to Mr Godin, Germany is annoyed by President Juncker’s “desire for independence” and centrist inclinations, which led him to seek a “third approach” in the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese cases, as well as with the Investment Plan for Europe.

According to Jutarnji List, the biggest cause for frictions between Berlin and Brussels are negotiations with the UK, after it activates Article 50. While President Juncker wants his advisor Martin Selmayr to be the leading negotiator, Council of Europe supports Belgian diplomat Didier Seeuws. “Status quo cannot be an answer to Brexit,” EcoFin Commissioner Pierre Moscovici commented, the Croatian daily writes.

Meanwhile, German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert characterised cooperation between Ms Merkel and Mr Juncker as “close and good”, Greek and German media report. Responding to criticism, President Juncker told Radio 100.7 that government heads and commentators should take a closer look at the EC’s work because the Commission has made proposals on the big issues – migration, energy and digital union.

Many British media comment on the situation of EU nationals living in the UK and British nationals living in the Union. The Guardian reports that the British government has refused to say whether nationals from the European Union who live and work in the UK will be allowed to stay once Britain officially leaves the EU. Home Secretary Theresa May, expected to be Cameron’s successor, has warned that EU nationals living and working in Britain cannot be guaranteed their right to stay in the UK once it leaves the European Union, with the threat also reaching out to UK expatriates, The Times writes. According to Radio 24, British Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said the future of British citizens living and working in the EU, as well as that of EU nationals living in Britain, must be secured as part of Brexit negotiations. Several EU media also comment on the possible repercussions of the UK’s Brexit decision on their own countries.


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