Sunday

16th Jun 2019

Member states grumble about splinter summits

Some member states have started to complain about the EU's patchy response to the economic crisis, especially its preponderance for organising summits with select invitees.

"I must admit I'm extremely worried about the EU's institutional chaos. Never in the EU's history has there been a period like this with so many cliques," Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb said on Monday (23 February), according to DPA.

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

  • Sweden's Carl Bildt - the Berlin meeting was bad for the commission and the council (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

He made the comments one day after a meeting in Berlin of six member states to prepare for a G20 summit in London on 2 April.

Although the UK, France, Germany and Italy are the only EU members of the G20, Spain and the Netherlands were also invited to the gathering, which saw agreement on a few general principles, such as the need for stricter financial regulation.

The Swedish foreign minister also expressed scepticism about the meeting.

"I can't understand what was gained by Sunday's meeting in Berlin. This confusion is not only undermining small EU member states and the [European] commission, but the Council [the joint forum of all the members states] itself," said Carl Bildt.

"What I have a specific problem with is that the G20 has suddenly become the G22 and I don't understand the mathematics behind that," he added.

Apart from Finland and Sweden, Poland, Portugal, Luxembourg and Belgium were also reportedly irked by the Berlin event.

"Quite a few countries insisted that the question about in what cases extraordinary summits on a different level should be called be raised and discussed," Bulgarian foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin said following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

The public grumbling threatens to remove what is already a thin veil of unity in the EU over how to tackle the economic crisis.

The most contentious issue - protectionism - has caused an ugly row between France and the Czech Republic after France said French car firms should not relocate to eastern Europe.

Prague has called an emergency informal summit of the 27 EU leaders on Sunday (1 March) in Brussels to combat the threat of economic nationalism.

But the Sunday meeting already risks descending into farce as nine central and eastern European leaders will hold their own pre-emergency summit earlier the same day. They will discuss worries that rich, western EU countries are spending their own way out of the crisis.

Doubts have already been expressed about what the emergency summit can achieve with member states meant to meet again just a few weeks later (19-20 March) for their regular Spring Summit.

"Personally, I don't see what remarkable thing is going to happen on 1 March," the Bulgarian foreign minister said. "I have personally no expectations about some remarkable results from that meeting."

EU leaders task Tusk to find commission chief by June

With national leaders and the European Parliament divided over who to put forward for the commission presidency, the EU Council president will now start negotiations with all sides - hoping to come up with an answer by next month.

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  2. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  3. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  4. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  5. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  6. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  7. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks
  8. EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us