Thursday

22nd Feb 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress

Italians, Czechs and Latvians perceive less corruption than a few years ago in Transparency International's annual ranking. The Berlin-based NGO said Finland was a 'worrying case', whilst Bulgaria - which holds the EU presidency - is EU's most corrupt.

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress

Italians, Czechs and Latvians perceive less corruption than a few years ago in Transparency International's annual ranking. The Berlin-based NGO said Finland was a 'worrying case', whilst Bulgaria - which holds the EU presidency - is EU's most corrupt.

News in Brief

  1. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  2. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  3. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  4. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  5. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  6. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents
  7. Hahn: EU to back entry talks with Albania and Macedonia
  8. UEFA signs deal to promote 'European values' at EURO 2020

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  2. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  3. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  4. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  5. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  6. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  7. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  8. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe