Sunday

27th May 2018

Focus

EU wonders how to win back people's trust

  • Slovakia and other eastern EU states said voters wanted national governments to run the show (Photo: theodevil)

EU institutions and member states should stop bashing each other in public and EU capitals should take back some powers from Brussels, Slovakia has said after initial talks on how to react to Brexit.

Slovakia, which currently chairs the EU Council, issued its advice after an informal meeting of member states in Bratislava on Monday (25 July).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“We should stop sending out negative messages”, its junior minister for EU affairs, Ivan Korcok, told press.

“Member states very often criticise Brussels, but it also doesn’t help … if we receive statements from Brussels which say that problems originate at member state level, that we bear the responsibility for the problems”, he said.

The Bratislava meeting, on how to improve the EU’s image, comes ahead of a summit on EU reform, to be held also in the Slovak capital in mid-September.

Korcok said that it would take more than a PR agency or media strategy to win back trust.

He said the EU needed to clarify “what are the responsibilities of the EU institutions and where, on the other hand, the EU must have no responsibilities or no powers”.

He said Monday’s meeting did not come up with any “ready-made solution” on where to draw those lines.

“You have two camps at the moment. Those who feel we need to move toward greater transfer of powers and competencies to the EU institutions. We [Slovakia] don’t agree with that. Then there are those who say the EU is itself the problem and we need to transfer competences back to member states”, he said, summing up Monday’s debate.

He said the ministers briefly touched upon EU initiatives, such as building an energy union and a digital single market.

But he said it would have been “paradoxical” if the meeting had not been “overshadowed” by the implications of the British referendum.

He said no one seriously thought that the British exit could somehow be avoided, but he added that the UK had a full say on EU decisions until the day it leaves.

“After today’s meeting it’s quite clear that the UK government has no alternative plans other than … to fulfil the decision of British voters”, Korcok said.

He added that EU-UK negotiations would not start, even at a low or “technical” level, until it formally notified the EU that it was leaving.

He also said that a report on Sunday in British media about a draft deal on EU migrants was “highly speculative”.

David Jones, the British junior minister for Brexit, also said in Bratislava that the outcome of the referendum was “very clear” but that the UK, for the time being, still had all its EU “rights”.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, said the EU’s message should be that it was important for the future of young people and that only joint action could tackle problems such as migration or climate change.

“We have to explain why we needed the European Union after World War II and why we need the European Union for this century”, he said.

Slovakia’s Korcok noted that EU-aspirant states in the Western Balkans were also “asking about the future of this project [the EU]” in the aftermath of the British decision.

He said, after meeting his counterparts from the region on Sunday, that the EU remained a “very attractive” prospect for candidate nations.

He also said member states which believed in further enlargement, such as Slovakia, must protect the “credibility” of the process.

“If these countries are delivering … then at the end of the Slovak presidency it would be very important to adequately reward this progress”, he said, referring to the prospect of opening new accession “chapters” in some of the talks.

Report: UK and EU sketch out deal on migrants and trade

A brake on EU migrants, single market access, and UK contributions to the EU budget - a British daily reports that informal talks on Britain's EU exit have started despite EU statements to the contrary.

Interview

Estonian presidency leaves 'more confident' EU

During its six months as head of the EU Council, Estonia tried to maintain EU unity and push 'digital' - despite Brexit and the lack of a government in Berlin, explained deputy minister for EU affairs Matti Maasikas.

EU states tackle Dublin asylum reform 'line by line'

A Friends of the Presidency group, set up by the Bulgarian EU presidency, has sifted through the European Commission's proposal to reform Dublin, an EU asylum law that has sparked widespread political tensions and divisions.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations