Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Merkel, Macron in pre-summit pledge on migration, eurozone

  • Angela Merkel is facing a rebellion at home over migration

Germany and France have declared a wide range of joint efforts to inject vigour into their vision of the European Union ahead of an EU summit of leaders next week.

On Tuesday (19 June), the two issued a Meseberg Declaration that calls for changes on security, migration, taxation, the banking union, the eurozone budget, for fewer European commissioners, among other measures.

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With Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel facing a rebellion in her coalition at home over asylum, the declaration is part of her larger bid to reach consensus ahead of the summit and stave off internal political threats to unseat her.

This includes meeting French president Emmanuel Macron at a government residence outside Berlin and issuing a declaration that also takes on board some of his ambitions on the eurozone budget.

They want the new budget, designed for its 19 member states, to launch in 2021, to include creating a parallel budget.

It also means turning Europe's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), into a European monetary fund where struggling EU states can obtain loans.

"We are working to make sure that the eurozone budget will be used to strengthen investment, also with the aim of strengthening convergence within the eurozone," said Merkel.

New 'EU Security Council'?

Other novelties include creating an "EU Security Council" and to start using majority voting among EU states to crack deadlocks in areas of foreign policy.

The announcement follows a separate agreement, also signed Tuesday, for France to take the lead on building next generation combat fighters with Germany.

On migration, the two are pursuing previously stated demands to create tougher policing of the EU's external border in what appears to be, in part, a reference to an European Commission plan to finance a corps of 10,000 border guards.

But they also reference the EU-Turkey statement, which cut the number of mainly Syrian refugees from travelling to the Greek islands, as an example of "cooperation and partnership" that could inspire other deals "to avoid departures to Europe".

They warn that unilateral moves by EU states to tackle migration flows could also threaten the Schengen passport-free travel area and end up increasing migration into Europe.

"Unilateral, uncoordinated action will split Europe, divide its peoples and put Schengen at risk," says the declaration.

Instead they push for a coordinated European approach, one that has so far proven elusive given the overall fallout of the Dublin asylum reforms and flat-out rejection by Hungary and others to accept relocated asylum seekers.

The two EU leaders also agree to work for the European commission to have less commissioners than there are Member States – as foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty, and to put in place transnational lists for European elections as of 2024.

EU summit set to outsource asylum

Draft conclusions of the EU summit seen by this website suggest setting up "regional disembarkation platforms", possibly in countries near Libya, to separate asylum seekers and economic migrants.

European Commission wants 10,000 border guards

The European Commission in its new budget wants to almost triple the amount of EU money, to over €34bn, that goes into border management and migration. Part of that sum may go to finance 10,000 border guards for Frontex.

Opinion

Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance

Europe's choice is between unplanned, reactive, fragmented, ineffective migration policy and planned, regulated, documented movements of people, writes International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband.

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