Public Affairs Networking
EU-wide reaction to Bratislava summit

Most mainstream EU media reported on the EU27 summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, last Friday.

Several quote German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying that the European Union is in a “critical situation.” Most media report that EU leaders agreed on a “roadmap” for migration, terrorism, defence and the economy which they aim to approve in Rome in March to mark the 60th anniversary of the EU’s founding treaties. The EU leaders also agreed on a six-month deadline to regain lost trust in the EU and show their unity in overcoming the consequences of the upcoming Brexit.

Slovak PM Robert Fico who hosted the summit noted that the summit had showed the willingness of European leaders to look into the mirror and admit that not everything was good, E15 daily (Czech) writes. Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka stated that there was a roadmap with “concrete steps for strengthening public trust in the EU’s functioning,” Bulgarian media report. In the Financial Times, Wolfgang Munchau commented the recent EU summit in Bratislava, noting that the ongoing problems across the European Union are being left un-addressed, while the bloc fights for unity among its member states.

While the European Union is trying to demonstrate unity in the face of the crisis, the European leaders last Friday mostly talked about what divides them, rather than what unifies them, Wprost writes. In an op-ed in Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy), Marco Magnani also maintains that the EU today is “confused, divided and quarrelsome” and “unable” to address the “big challenges” in a “cohesive” way.

The International New York Times warns that “Unless European leaders can turn plans into action – and quickly – there may be little to celebrate by the time they gather next year.” Hendrik Kafsack comments in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), that the Bratislava summit disappointed any optimistic hopes that the “EU 27” would revitalise European politics. In an interview with Pravda (Russia), Director of the Europeum Institute for European Policy Vladimír Bartovic points out, that the result of the Summit is neutral, as it is neither a great success nor a failure.

Hans-Peter Siebenhaar comments in Handelsblatt (German) that the summit was an important milestone in overcoming the squabbling between member states in the refugee crisis, as the foundation has now been laid for common refugee policy. Martin M. Šimečka writes in Respekt weekly (Czech) that the Bratislava Summit brought better results than expected. EU leaders “did not pull off a miracle, but they did the job,” Les Echos (France) reports.

Several media note that this summit was the first summit organised without the United Kingdom. The informal EU summit in Bratislava was a sort of a group therapy for 27 leaders of the Member States after the UK’s leave vote, Delo (Slovenia) comments. According to Jyllands-Posten (Denmark) and De Morgen (Belgium), European Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday, that the United Kingdom is willing to launch negotiations to leave the EU in January or February 2017. Nevertheless De Volkskrant (Netherlands) reports, that a spokesman for British PM Theresa May claimed that no definitive month has been named.

In an interview with Europe show, EC Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said that there is a unanimous agreement between the 27 EU countries and the EC, that the UK as a third country cannot chose from the EU “menu” only the courses it likes. “There can be no access to the single market, without free movement of people,” he added.

The Financial Times quotes Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico as saying, that Europe will make Brexit “very painful” and ensure Britain is worse off outside the EU. Meanwhile, in a guest article in FAZ, Head of the Prognostic Centre at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy Prof. Dr. Stefan Kooths states, that rather than “punishing” the UK for voting to leave and thereby minimising the benefits and values of the EU, the EU should aim for a highly cooperative attitude toward the UK.

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger also comments in FAZ, that while the Bratislava summit confirmed that the European Union will continue on without the UK, the British government still has no plan for beginning official negotiations with the EU.

In an interview with Europe show, EC Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said that there is a unanimous agreement between the 27 EU countries and the EC, that the UK as a third country cannot chose from the EU “menu” only the courses it likes. “There can be no access to the single market, without free movement of people,” he added. The Financial Times quotes Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico as saying, that Europe will make Brexit “very painful” and ensure Britain is worse off outside the EU.

Meanwhile, in a guest article in FAZ, Head of the Prognostic Centre at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy Prof. Dr. Stefan Kooths states, that rather than “punishing” the UK for voting to leave and thereby minimising the benefits and values of the EU, the EU should aim for a highly cooperative attitude toward the UK. Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger comments in FAZ, that while the Bratislava summit confirmed that the European Union will continue on without the UK, the British government still has no plan for beginning official negotiations with the EU.

Diario Public (Portugal) reports that the 27 European Union leaders concluded at the Bratislava summit, that the European Union does not communicate effectively enough. In order to tackle the poor communication between Member States, heads of state and citizens about the decisions taken, the heads of state of the 27 decided to draw a roadmap with strategies to regain Europeans’ confidence. The roadmap is to be presented in March 2017 during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

According to Pastimes (Estonia), the Visegrád countries called on Friday for the European Commission’s power be reduced, for member states to be given more say in matters and for integration be halted. In an opinion piece in Public (Portugal), sociologist Pedro Góis criticises the position of the Visegrád Group, claiming that the Visegrád Group stands for nationalism and against migrants, refugees, and diversity. In an article in La Repubblica (Italy), Andrea Tarquini says that the Visegrád Group has become a “thorn in the side” of the EU with its total opposition to any obligatory migrant relocation. Meanwhile, German media and Gazeta Polska Codziennie (Poland) report that during the Summit, Angela Merkel expressed readiness to start discussions over a proposition of V4 to abandon the imposed refugee quotas.

Finally, most Italian media and Le Figaro (France) report that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made it clear – using surprisingly strong words – that he was very unhappy with the conclusions of the Bratislava summit. The Italian leader, who hoped the summit would be a “turning point”, described it as a “missed opportunity” instead. In a commentary in Corriere della Sera (Italy), Federico Fubini argues that the Bratislava summit showed that previously Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi did not realise that they have “differing agendas”. Ms Merkel “only wants to put the EU on hold”, and “quell the revolt” of her partners. While Mr Renzi needs a “European initiative” against the influx of immigrants and EU support for Italy’s “fragile” public finances.

 

©europeanunion2016

Comments
No comments yet
Submit a comment

Policy and networking for the digital age
Policy Review TV Neil Stewart Associates
© Policy Review | Policy and networking for the digital age 2024 | Log-in | Proudly powered by WordPress
Policy Review EU is part of the NSA & Policy Review Publishing Network