Tuesday

27th Sep 2016

EU 27 meet for 'moment of truth'

EU leaders, meeting in Slovakia on Friday (16 September), have insisted on the need for unity after the Brexit referendum and for common policies on security, economic growth, border controls and terrorism.

Speaking to media before their summit in Bratislava castle, they showed no appetite for a grand redesign of the EU architecture or for a new treaty, focusing instead on urgent action on the migration crisis, the economy and terrorist threats.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU Council chief Donald Tusk on Thursday had called for a “brutally honest assessment of the situation”.

But on Friday he hit a more cheerful note when asked how to overcome differences between member states. “It’s much easier than you’d expect," he said.

Hosting the informal summit, Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said he hoped that by the end of the day leaders would agree on a roadmap “on the most important topics” for the next six months, which would be tackled at follow-up summits in Valetta and in Rome.

“We want to show that this [the EU] is a unique project and we want to continue this project,” Fico said.

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said: “This is the moment of truth”.

Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, dismissed the view that the EU is facing an existential danger.

“Ninety percent of the EU is working. We should not blame the EU for the rest of the 10 percent. We should find solutions,” he said.

No binding decisions are to come out of Friday’s meeting, with the “Bratislava roadmap” to point to future actions instead.

But despite Tusk’s sunny welcome in Bratislava, there are deep divergences between the 27 leaders.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte even criticised the format, which left out the UK. “They are still in the EU. I don’t think it’s good to have summits without them,” he said.

EU army?

One of the most divisive subjects is migration - western EU states and the European Commission have called for relocations and burden-sharing, but eastern EU countries do not want to take part.

Another important issue at the summit is security.

France and Germany are pushing for deeper military cooperation, with joint battle groups and a European military headquarters.

Hungary and the Czech Republic had already expressed their support for a European army.

But Ireland’s Enda Kenny has insisted on his country’s neutrality, and said he will bring up his country’s “red lines” on deeper defence cooperation.

Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Lofven also expressed doubt over anything that would amount to an EU army, and said that his country would not support such a move.

Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite was even more blunt.

“I have never heard about EU army, there is a misunderstanding, better cooperation on defence, yes, but not an army, we cannot replace Nato, we cannot duplicate Nato,” she said.

She also warned that EU fragmentation went further than Brexit. “We have no choice, but to solve these issues,” she said.

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants

Balkan leaders said in New York there would be no repetition of last year's mass influx of refugees, as the EU prepares to launch a new border force to keep people out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  2. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  3. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  4. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  5. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  6. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  7. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  8. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  9. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  10. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union

Latest News

  1. Why Putin's union doesn't want to work with the EU
  2. Charges await Danes and Germans for helping refugees
  3. EU migrant quota idea is finished, says Fico
  4. Finland calls for 'pragmatic' EU defence cooperation
  5. MEPs push for oversight on commissioners
  6. EU and US in talks on car emissions cheats
  7. Hollande warns UK not to abandon Calais obligations
  8. Spy agencies launch 'real-time' terror tracker