TEHRAN (Basirat)- European Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Slovak PM Robert Fico are in talks Friday (September 2) to set the critical agenda for the next EU summit amid growing divisions in the union.
European Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Slovak PM Robert Fico are in talks Friday (September 2) to set the critical agenda for the next EU summit amid growing divisions in the union.sputniknews.com
Slovakia holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, so it
falls to the country's Prime Minister Robert Fico to set the agenda for
the upcoming EU summit on September 16. In a sign that Fico is leading
the EU in a new direction, he has decided not to hold the summit in
Brussels, but in his capital, Bratislava.
The significance of the location is crucial, as Slovakia is one of
the Visegrad Group, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland —
all of whom are calling for a major rethink on the whole EU project. In a
joint communique in July, the leaders of the four countries said:
"It's time for the Union to be more pragmatic, focused on the essentials
and reforms. At the same time the EU must act with due consideration
and solve the problems of citizens while respecting the principles of
subsidiarity and proportionality as well as the role of the national
The group are among other Eastern European countries that have
rejected calls for the mandatory relocation of migrants on a quota
basis, with Hungary challenging the policy promulgated by Juncker and
Merkel, supported by Poland.
Former Polish Prime Minister Tusk will ultimately have to lead the
negotiations on Britain's exit from the EU and its new relationship with
the bloc. Yet his own country is at odds with Brussels over changes to
Current Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło's Law and Justice Party
(PiS) has made a number of variations to its Constitutional Tribunal
that the European Commission has declared go against the principle of
the 'Rule of Law' of the EU and is threatening to remove Poland's voting
All of which makes for an interesting meeting between Tusk and Fico as
they decide how to set the agenda for the Bratislava summit.
Rise in Nationalism
Meanwhile, Merkel and Hollande will have side talks at the Franco-German
forum in the French spa town of Evian. Both are facing elections in
2017 and neither is enjoying a great deal of popularity. Amid the
migrant crisis and terrorist attacks, both are facing stiff opposition
from nationalist opposition.
Merkel's popularity has plunged over her 'open doors' policy to
refugees, which has put a huge strain on her own CDU/CSU coalition,
which has suffered a fall in support, with the populist right-wing party
Alternative for Germany (AfD) winning record backing.
Hollande is struggling to deal with a rise in Islamophobia,
controversial changes to his country's labor code as well as terrorist
attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere. He is struggling to garner enough
support to even survive the primaries in the race for the presidency
Hollande and Merkel are both strong supporters of the principle of the
freedom of movement of EU workers — a major stumbling block for the
Brexit negotiations, as the issue of EU migrant workers was the main
issue in the run-up to Britain's referendum on Brexit.
Finally, there is Juncker, who meets Merkel Friday (September 2). They
both brokered the controversial EU-Turkey migrant deal under which
Turkey is paid US$3.35 billion to prevent migrants from flooding into
Europe, and accepting "irregular migrants" — those refused asylum — from
The deal includes the granting of visa-free access to Europe and the
acceleration of Turkey's accession to the EU.
The deal is facing increasing opposition because of Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's increasing grip on power, clampdown on the
opposition and media — particularly following the attempted coup in
July. Many EU members say the migrant deal and all talks over visa-free
access should be brought to a halt.
Thus, September 2, 2016 can be seen as D-Day for the EU.
The major players are all in talks ahead of the crucial Bratislava
summit on September 16. Divisions within the union are deep. The migrant
crisis and Brexit has exposed major flaws in the great European dream,
which all of the above will have to face up to.
The Bratislava summit will be a turning point for the EU. Entrenched
views on sovereignty and immigration are likely to be exposed and it
will be difficult to reach a compromise over the future of the EU
As the Slovak saying goes: Kto druhému jamu kope, sám do nej padá (He who digs a hole for another, falls in himself).