Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Merkel wants EU to focus on jobs and security

  • Merkel (c) is trying to bridge the gaps over the EU's future (Photo: g20.org)

The Bratislava summit of the 27 EU leaders on 16 September should focus on job creation for the young and reinforcing security in Europe, German chancellor Angela Merkel said on her diplomatic tour to lay the groundwork for the meeting.

Speaking in Prague on Thursday (25 August), Merkel said: "The Bratislava summit will accent ways that we can improve economic power, create more jobs for young people and how to boost internal and border security.”

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.

... or join as a group

She added: “I think we can overcome Britain’s decision [to leave]. But we have to work hard to do that.”

At the summit, leaders are expected to chart out the future direction for the EU after Britain’s shock decision to leave the bloc.

The German chancellor is meeting with 12 EU leaders in the next two days on a post-Brexit tour to find a compromise between those who want deeper European integration and those, particularly in eastern and central Europe, where governments support taking some powers back to the national level.

Merkel met with her Estonian counterpart in Tallinn on Thursday, then travelled to Prague to meet PM Bohuslav Sobotka.

One area of further cooperation could be defence and intelligence, which could eventually lead to the establishment of a European army - an area where even the eurosceptic Czech Republic has showed willingness to cooperate.

Sobotka said on Thursday that more European security and defence cooperation, in addition to Nato, was a priority given the need to protect external borders of the EU and to respond to growing security threats, for instance from the Middle East.

'Selfish' policies?

Merkel faces tough talks in Poland on Friday, where she is meeting with the leaders of the Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Migration policy will top the agenda. Some in the Visegrad group think that Germany pushed too hard for the mandatory refugee relocation scheme without taking into consideration the national sensibilities of member states.

Ahead of her visit in Warsaw on Friday, Poland’s foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski criticised German foreign policy as being too “selfish”, citing the examples of migration policy, and the plan to build a new gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany, bypassing Poland.

"There are diverging views on how to distribute migrants across the EU, but on many other issues opinions converge," Merkel said in Prague.

“All families occasionally need phases in which they think about where they go from here,” she added, referring to the EU as a family.

Several hundred protesters rallied in the Czech capital on Thursday against Merkel and her decision a year ago to open the country’s doors to asylum seekers.

A leading figure of Germany's anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant Pegida movement, Tatiana Festerling, was also present for the demonstration, according to the AFP news agency.

In a sign of the anger in some parts of society, Czech police said they arrested a man for attempting to drive his black Mercedes into Merkel's motorcade in Prague as she travelled from the airport to government headquarters.

Later on Friday, Merkel will meet in Germany with a mostly nordic group that includes the prime ministers of Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, as well as the Netherlands.

She will, the same day, also host separate talks with leaders from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.

The tour is part of her new attempt to be seen as a “listener” and to dispel the image of Berlin trying to impose policies on the rest of the bloc.

But countries in southern Europe are also planning to bind together on a joint proposal to have more clout at the Bratislava summit.

Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a southern Europe meeting before the event, with French president Francois Hollande having already indicated that he would participate.

Tusk and Merkel discuss post-Brexit EU

EU Council president Tusk will meet chancellor Merkel at a castle retreat in Germany on Thursday as part of preparations for the Brexit summit in Bratislava.

Under-fire Merkel defends migration policy

The German chancellor sticks by her welcoming policy towards migrants, while a poll suggests more than 50 percent of Germans do not want her to stand for a fourth term in office.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Opinion

Voter turnout will decide Europe's fate

European voter turnout is in deep crisis. Since the early 2000s, the share of voters in national elections has fallen to 66 percent on average, which means that the birthplace of democracy now ranks below average globally.

News in Brief

  1. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  2. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  3. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  4. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll
  5. Austrian government chaos as far-right ministers step down
  6. Farage hit by milkshake during campaign tour
  7. New president dissolves Ukraine's parliament
  8. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment

Happy young Finns don't vote at EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us