Tuesday

16th Jan 2018

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.

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.

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.

Opinion

Juncker-Tusk: A clash of EU visions

The EU commission president may be right that Brexit is not an existential challenge to the EU, but rifts with the EU council chief over how to handle the divorce talks may well be.

New Polish PM visits Hungary in snub to Brussels

In his first official bilateral visit since taking office, Poland's new prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki travels to Budapest, which vowed to defend Warsaw from any EU sanctions over its judicial reforms.

Magazine

Macron: Hegelian hero of EU history?

The election of the 39-year old newcomer injected new hope and dynamism. But the French president still has to find solid allies in the EU and deliver his ambitious agenda at home.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Post-Brexit trade roll-over not automatic, EU paper says
  2. Oettinger pushes plastic tax but colleagues express doubts
  3. MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech
  4. Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels
  5. ECB withheld information on 'flawed' bank supervision
  6. Fewer MEPs than visitors turn up for Estonian PM
  7. EU names China and Russia as top hackers
  8. Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises