Thursday

26th Nov 2020

Merkel seeks post-Brexit vision on EU tour

  • The German leader is aiming to lay the groundwork ahead of an informal EU summit in mid-September in Bratislava. (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has kicked off a tour of EU capitals to forge a common position on the future of the EU after the UK’s exit.

She has already held a mini-summit with France’s Francois Hollande and Italian leader Matteo Renzi earlier this week in a bid to “relaunch” the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The German leader, still the most powerful politician in Europe despite being weakened by her handling of the migration crisis, is aiming to lay the groundwork ahead of an informal EU summit in mid-September in Bratislava.

The summit will be the first leaders' meeting without the UK. The remaining 27 leaders will attempt to hammer out a common position for the EU’s future after Brexit.

Merkel, who will meet 15 leaders this week, is trying to bridge the gaps between the various groups among the EU member states.

Some southern countries are keen to see more integration, especially in the economy, something that Merkel is cautious about after the euro crisis. However, eastern members have called for more powers to be repatriated to member states and vowed to come up with their own proposals for the crucial September summit.

On Wednesday (24 August), Merkel kicks off the second leg of her tour with a visit to Estonia, where is she is meeting prime minister Taavi Roivas and see Nato’s cybersecurity centre in Tallinn.

On Thursday, she will head to Prague to meet with Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Later on she will also meet with the country’s staunchly eurosceptic president, Milos Zeman.

Zeman has also been a fierce critic of Merkel’s welcoming policy towards refugees, and has called for a total ban of migrants entering the Czech Republic.

The migration crisis is another topic that is bound to come up during Merkel’s discussions, as she attempts to salvage the previously agreed EU policies on taking in and distributing refugees across Europe in an attempt to calm critics and concerned voters ahead of next year’s general election in Germany.

Germany has taken in over a million asylum seekers since last summer, and has suffered two terrorist attacks this summer, reinforcing a shift in mood among Germans who initially welcomed migrants from war-torn, destitute areas.

Merkel is heading for some tough talks on Friday in Warsaw, whose nationalist government, led by the Law and Justice party has been increasingly critical of Berlin’s leadership and its migration policy.

In Poland, Merkel will hold talks with the prime ministers of the Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia. The bloc has been uniformly against taking in asylum seekers from Muslim countries and has been calling for a rollback of EU powers.

Some eastern countries still hold a grudge against the European Commission, which pushed through the German-inspired policy of relocating refugees across the continent in the name of solidarity, despite their opposition.

Merkel will also discuss with her eastern partners the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the sanctions against Russia, the EU's relations with Belarus and the situation in Turkey after the failed coup attempt in July.

Merkel will hold one-on-one talks with Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydlo, whose country has been mired in controversy as the European Commission said some of its policies are aimed at dismantling the rule of law.

Later on Friday, back in Berlin, Merkel will meet with Nordic leaders, and has a working dinner with the prime ministers of Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

While her talks might be more relaxed with her Nordic counterparts, Finland’s president warned on Tuesday that the EU’s decision-making and implementation was weak. Sauli Niinisto called for a return to the EU's basic values.

On Saturday, Merkel will hold talks with the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia.

While there is little chance that a consensus will emerge quickly, Merkel wants to avoid a spat between the member states, and instead aims to focus on EU policies that can deliver tangible results to voters quickly.

By speaking to 15 different leaders just this week ahead of the Bratislava summit, Merkel also wants to dissipate any impression that Berlin tries to impose its will on the rest of the EU.

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.

Analysis

EU must protect its citizens

If the EU wants to reach out to disillusioned Europeans, it must offer more protection from the forces currently buffeting the political, social and economic landscape.

Merkel wants EU to focus on jobs and security

Merkel is meeting 12 EU leaders in the next two days to forge alliances before the Bratislava summit in September on the EU's future, where different views are bound to clash.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch far-right leader resigns over antisemitism
  2. Germany to relax corona rules for Christmas
  3. New US leader against hard border in Ireland
  4. EU ties Afghanistan aid money to democracy
  5. EU drug regulator optimistic on vaccine prospects
  6. EU study warns of impact of non-CO2 aircraft emissions
  7. Cross-country MPs urge EU to protect Poles' rights
  8. MEPs adopt group-action consumer rights redress

EU pushes back against rising homophobia

The EU Commission plans a proposal to ensure recognition children-parent relations in cross border situations, and legislation to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. Watchdog slams Commission on BlackRock 'green rules' deal
  2. EU reaches out to nationals of migrant origin
  3. German minister predicts rule-of-law solution in 'days'
  4. EU red-flags Israel's Givat Hamatos settlement
  5. US economic nationalism will be subtler - but it will persist
  6. Georgia's 'rigged' elections? Takeaways for the EU
  7. There is 'no Russia-Turkey alliance'
  8. EU air quality improves, but pollution levels still high

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us