Can the Bratislava summit mend the EU?

At their summit in Bratislava the leaders of the EU member states agreed to strengthen the EU's outer border and coast protection and implement the refugee deal with Turkey. They also defined the creation of new jobs as a priority. A blueprint for saving the EU has once again failed to materialize, some journalists comment in disappointment. Others are happy with the results.

Open/close all quotes
L'Opinion (FR) /

Europe's politicians worsen confidence crisis

Bratislava was yet another frustrating summit to make you want to tear your hair out, former Belgian prime minister and liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt complains in L'Opinion:

“Even without Britain, whose reputation is anything but spotless, the European Council continues to go around in circles. This powerlessness is rightly driving the citizens of our paralysed Europe to despair. For how long will the member states put off the grand reform that the Union so badly needs to fully exercise its responsibilities and respond to the people's demands? ... A pan-European democracy would not be the enemy of national democracies, any more than efficient supra-national institutions are the adversaries of national governments. But the more they dither on European integration and the longer they hesitate to share their sovereignty in decisive areas, the more the leaders of Europe exacerbate the crisis of confidence in the entire political and economic system.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

EU in artificial coma

Italy's Prime Minister Renzi has criticised the EU summit, calling it a "staged event". And he's right, writes Roberto Sommella in Huffington Post Italy:

“Europe is in a coma. An artificial coma, yes, but still a coma. The six piddling pages of the final declaration in Bratislava speak volumes. The usual formal attentiveness, particular emphasis on border defence and the fight against terror. But not a word about a migration pact or new plans for the economy. ... The Union that emerges from this summit is divided into three blocs: the Eurozone, the EU of the 27 without Britain, and the Visegrád Group with the four countries of Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia) which are calling for a pretty little wall against the migrants - something I fear many other countries want too. But the most important fissure concerns the France-Germany-Italy leadership trio, which has collapsed not even a month after Ventotene.”

Dnevnik (BG) /

Summit has achieved a sensible balance

The leaders of the EU member states have reached a pragmatic agreement on the refugee problem at the summit in Bratislava, Dnevnik concludes:

“The Visegrád states wanted the EU to give up the quota system. … But after rational and pragmatic evaluation it became clear that their position was unsustainable, which is why it was rejected. In the end a sensible balance has been achieved. Firstly, the strengthening of the outer borders in order to reduce the number of illegal border crossings. Secondly, support for the deal with Turkey, which despite all the criticism has cut the influx of refugees by 50 percent compared to last year. Thirdly, a pan-European approach in which securing the outer borders becomes a joint task. Contrary to the position of the Visegrád states this balance takes account of countries like Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, which without these measures would very soon face problems that not even border fences could solve.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Politicians finally listen to Europeans

Kristeligt Dagblad hopes very much that the representatives of the member states and the EU will roll up their sleeves and get to work on overcoming their differences in Bratislava:

“Everything points to the EU elite having understood the problems. In many key areas the EU is to be strengthened but at the same time have less influence in others. Although many politicians have succumbed to the trend of expressing Euroscepticism or opposition, the Union needs all the political and public support it can get. A Europe in which countries don't work together is unimaginable. There is no alternative to precisely this European Union. We should be glad that the politicians are now listening to the peoples of Europe.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

EU needs good will most of all

It won't be easy to reconcile the various interests within the EU, Sydsvenskan suspects:

“Metres of shelves containing treaties, directives and regulations govern cooperation in the EU. But what good are rules and agreements if no one follows them? Cooperation in the EU can't be brought about with rules. It must be based on good will and the readiness to put the common good above conflicting national interests. Without such good will the EU simply can't function. Is there enough of it present to break the spiral of dissatisfaction with the EU? The answer could lie in Bratislava.”

Denník N (SK) /

Take foot off the integration pedal

Whenever the EU runs into problems further integration is automatically presented as the solution, Dennik N objects, calling for a new approach:

“If your car has a problem with the engine, the fuel line, the ignition, the gearbox or the brakes because it was put together too quickly and with faulty parts, it doesn't help to step on the gas pedal even harder. The only thing to do is stop and get the car repaired and the faulty components replaced. The summit in Bratislava and the coming months will show whether the EU leaders can overcome their profound tendency to react to any integration problem with more integration. But judging by EU Commission chief Juncker's recent speech there is little hope of this. He has recognised the problems but only sees strengthening Brussels as the solution. To stick with the car metaphor, with such drivers the car will fall apart long before it reaches its destination.”

The Times (GB) /

Exclusion of the British unacceptable

The decision not to invite the UK to the summit is proof that Jean-Claude Juncker wants to punish the country for its Brexit vote, The Times complains:

“However, the divorce papers have not yet been served. Britain is still an equal member of the EU and its prime minister should be present in the castle’s Knights Hall. The intentions of Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, have become all too clear. He wants to erect a cordon sanitaire between Britain and the remaining members. In his annual state of the union address yesterday, Mr Juncker declared that he 'respected but regretted' Britain’s decision to leave. His actions betray little sense of regret. He will not be satisfied until Britain is punished and given pariah status.”