Sunday

24th Jun 2018

France and Germany head into summit divided, UK seen as sidelining itself

  • David Cameron (second from left, front row) - slowly saying 'bye bye' to the EU? (Photo: ecrgroup.eu)

The EU summit kicked off on Thursday (18 October) amid a public stand off between France and Germany on what should be discussed at the meeting and how to proceed with a banking union.

French President Francois Hollande arrived at the summit - having given a combative Berlin-critical interview to several European newspapers the day before - saying the only decision needed at the summit was on having a banking union by the end of the year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

It was a direct challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel who has indicated she wants to move more slowly on the creation of banking union, which entails setting up a European bank supervisor.

But Merkel also came to the summit well-armed.

In an address to the Bundestag on Thursday morning she said the European Commission should have far-reaching powers to challenge national budgets.

She noted that even though the idea would be unpopular in some quarters - with France keen on retaining sovereignty in this area - Germany would "make the case" anyway.

The two leaders had a brief meeting before the summit. A German delegation source said it took place in a "good atmosphere" and that the summit programme for further development of economic and monetary union was discussed. French diplomats, according to Reuters, briefed that the two leaders agreed on the need for a tight timetable for a banking union.

The banking union - meant to prevent banks building up dangerous debt holes - has become the symbolic battle ground for the different stands of thinking in Berlin and Paris.

While Berlin wants fiscal discipline and centralised budgetary oversight before it will open its coffers, Paris wants more solidarity, particularly towards struggling countries - before committing to such ideas.

Both sides are increasingly frowning at one another in self-righteous incomprehension.

Adding to the strained dynamic of the summit - meant to be a no-decisions affair on how to further political integration - is the relation between euro and non-euro countries.

The UK

The eight mainly eastern non-euro countries that are obliged to join the single currency want to make sure that eurozone area decisions do not adversely affect them.

But one non-euro country in particular is stealing the limelight. Britain, which has no obligation to join the euro, is increasingly being seen as slowly disengaging itself from the EU.

Its notoriously lukewarm stance towards the Union was underlined when it refused to take part in a fiscal discipline treaty late last year and further emphasized when earlier this week announced it intended to opt out of 130 pieces of EU justice and home affairs legislation.

And in a symbolic move Prime Minister David Cameron for the first time since he became UK leader attended a pre-summit meeting with politicians from the anti-federalist Conservatives and Reformists faction that his Conservative Party aligns itself with in the European Parliament.

A post-meeting photo makes it clear, Cameron is not sitting with the power-wielders of Europe.

Remarking on the development, Finnish Europe minister Alex Stubb said Britain appeared to be slowly saying "bye bye" to the EU.

"I think Britain is right now, voluntarily, by its own will, putting itself in the margins," he told Reuters news agency.

Discord simmers ahead of EU summit

It is being billed - by the Germans at least - as a "stepping stone" summit leading to firm decisions on further EU integration in December. But others want answers now.

Opinion

Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China

There is not a single European company among the world's top 10 computer hardware companies. Within the EU, Germany and Sweden rank among world leaders, but Bulgaria and Slovakia among the worst-performing developed nations.

Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

After late-night talks, the Eurogroup agreed on a €15bn disbursement and debt relief measures for Greece, while setting out a tight monitoring when the bailout ends in August.

News in Brief

  1. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  2. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  3. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  4. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  5. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  6. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  7. EU adopts posted workers directive
  8. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  2. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  3. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  4. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  5. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'
  6. How a US firm pushed for EU €2.1trn pension fund
  7. Commission defends Africa migrant plan ahead of summit
  8. Bavaria hijacks EU migration talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us