Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

EU leaders promise action after Tallinn brainstorming

  • EU leaders brainstormed in Tallinn on the future direction of Europe (Photo: eu2017ee/Flickr)

EU leaders agreed on Friday (29 September) to work out a roadmap of concrete actions to address the concerns of EU citizens, who have been increasingly voting for populist parties across the continent.

European Council chief Donald Tusk will consult with all member states in the next two weeks and will draw up for the next year a working program of palpable actions that EU leaders will then agree on.

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

It would include the launch of a permanent defence cooperation by the end of the year, a euro summit in December, and a Western Balkan summit next year in Sofia, Bulgaria.

"I will concentrate on finding real solutions to real problems to citizens' concerns with security, migration, and unemployment," Tusk said after an informal EU summit in Tallinn.

Earlier in the day he suggested a "step-by-step", "issue-by-issue" approach.

After the Brexit vote last year, and amid the increasing popularity of populist parties on the continent, EU leaders have been focusing on restarting the EU project and delivering concrete results to counter the rise of anti-establishment political forces.

In the wake of the UK decision to leave, renewed efforts to deepen integration gave birth to a flurry of ideas that inspired Tusk to liken the leaders' brainstorming to the popular song contest, Eurovision.

"Some may think it is a kind of Eurovision contest, perhaps it is. But together we will make good use of it," he quipped when arriving at the summit on Friday.

French president Emmanuel Macron came to the event with a bag full of ideas on how to restart the EU engine, with the help of Germany's Angela Merkel, and to cater to the needs of French and other European voters.

He secured the tacit approval of Merkel, who said that there was "a wide agreement" between France and Germany.

"Last night's discussions showed there's a common realisation for the need for a leap forward in Europe," Macron told press on Friday.

Three days after a speech in which he laid out a wide-ranging reform of the EU, he insisted that 2018 - the year before Brexit and the next European elections - will be the right moment to establish a roadmap for the bloc

Others sounded less enthusiastic.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte cautioned against grand visions.

"Under-promise and over-deliver", he advised, adding: "Don't promise an elephant and see a mouse show up."

There is concern among non-eurozone members that implementation of Macron's ideas on a eurozone budget and parliament will lead to two-speed Europe, with those outside the new structures falling behind.

With diverging ideas on how to move ahead, and a looming Brexit, Tusk pledged to the maintain unity of the 27.

"I will do everything in my power to keep the unity of the EU," he told press after the summit.

Waiting for 'miracle' on Brexit

Discussions on the future of Europe were also attended by British prime minister Theresa May, even though the UK leaves the bloc in 2019.

Brexit was not on the menu of EU leaders this time.

That did not stop European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker from saying to press that a "miracle" was needed to have sufficient progress in the exit talks by the end of October to be able to move to trade talks.

The EU has said the UK must settle the issues of citizens' rights, the Irish border, and the UK financial settlement, before discussing future relations.

But Britain has said it wants to talk about future trade arrangements in parallel with the other questions.

Macron seeks far-reaching EU overhaul

From the eurozone to defence and education, the French president presented plans to reform the EU which he said other leaders have "no choice" but to follow.

Macron to sell EU plan in Tallinn

EU leaders to discuss French president's reform plan over dinner in Estonia, but German chancellor Angela Merkel's hands tied for now by coalition talks.

Agenda

Brexit on EU summit table This Week

A key showdown on the state of Brexit talks, an ECJ ruling on Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych, and Macron's proposals for the future of the EU, are all on the agenda this week.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.

EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Germany and Belgium have put forward a proposal for a "peer review" of EU countries' legal systems as member states and EU institutions struggle with disciplining member states that break EU rules.

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us