Thursday

9th Feb 2023

Tusk and Merkel discuss post-Brexit EU

  • Tusk (r) plans to visit all EU capitals in the coming weeks (Photo: Consillium)

EU Council president Donald Tusk is meeting chancellor Angela Merkel at a castle retreat in Germany on Thursday (18 August) as part of preparations for the Brexit summit in Bratislava.

The evening dinner, at the Meseberg castle 65km north of Berlin, will take place without a media briefing and comes amid plans by the EU chairman to visit every EU capital over the next four weeks.

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He has already scheduled meetings in Luxembourg, France, Ireland, Malta, Spain, Sweden and the UK as well as the three Baltic states.

At the heart of the discussions will be whether Europe should make another leap forward in integration in reaction to the Brexit vote, with further pooling of sovereignty on economic governance and immigration, or whether it should hand greater control to national capitals to avoid feeding euroscepticism.

Merkel and her party, along with several central European leaders, have indicated wariness on further integration.

But the Social Democratic Party in Germany's ruling coalition, as well as France and Italy, are pulling in the other direction. Italy is planning to hold an informal summit with France and Germany on the island of Ventotene next week to set out its ideas.

The Bratislava meeting, in mid-September, will also discuss how to handle future relations with the UK.

Germany this week indicated it is willing to grant Britain what it called a “special status”, indicating closer relations and more beneficial terms than associated EU states such as Norway or Switzerland.

But Berlin, like central and eastern Europe, ruled out limitations to EU freedom of movement if the UK is to have access to the single market.

According to a report by British broadcaster ITV on Wednesday, citing British official sources, that would not be acceptable to London, which is angling for control over immigration and curbs on its future contributions to the EU budget.

Norway and Switzerland have to let in EU workers and pay into the EU coffers in return for market access but have no say over EU laws.

The ITV report added that the UK minister in charge of Brexit, David Davis, is considering UK-EU relations on the model of a draft Canada-EU free trade deal, with preferential access to certain sectors of the single market only, while retaining immigration control.

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