EU summit in Sibiu: much ado about nothing?
At the EU summit in Sibiu European heads of state and government have signed a declaration reaffirming their commitment to the EU's fundamental values. Originally the meeting in Romania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, was intended to mark a new beginning after Brexit. But the agenda changed, and commentators examine the upshot.
Just empty promises
For Eric Bonse in his Blog Lost in EUrope, this is the most superfluous EU summit since Brexit:
“Elegant phrases, murmurings, simulations. The head of the summit Donald Tusk drew up a 'Sibiu Declaration' with ten 'pledges' especially for the occasion. They are as full-bodied as they are hollow. We will be 'united through thick and thin', he said, we will 'show solidarity in times of emergency' he said. The ten pledges declared in Romania include the protection of democracy and the rule of law and the defence of the 'European way of life'. In Romania of all places - where the rule of law is hollowed out a little more every day! And the 'European way of life' is nothing more than a distant dream for the majority of the impoverished population!”
Pussyfooting around key issues
There has been an embarrassing avoidance of the important issues in Sibiu, concludes Gazeta Wyborcza:
“On Europe Day, the 69th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which is regarded as the cornerstone of European integration, they issued the 'Sibiu Declaration' with ten pledges, including the pledge to safeguard unity and justice as well as democracy and rule of law. This incredibly unspecific document masks the fact that the original plans for serious discussion about the EU's priorities for 2019-2024 have been postponed until after the election on 26 May. ... Above all they steered clear of the contentious issue of the Franco-German 'integration engine' for reforming the Eurozone. France's President Emmanuel Macron did not disguise his frustration at Berlin's avoidance of the issue.”
This time Romania did not misbehave
Commentator Dan Tapalaga of G4Media had a very different impression of the summit:
“President Klaus Iohannis managed to convey a shining image of Romania during the EU summit in Sibiu, making it appear halfway normal - grounds at least for a hint of national pride. This time it all went smoothly. The little Transylvanian city presented the attractive face of a country which has produced nothing but bad news for the past two years. ... Top European politicians, foreign journalists and normal citizens will perhaps go home after the Sibiu summit convinced that we naturally belong to Europe. The enemies of Europe who abuse power in Bucharest are just an unfortunate blip in history. One that can be corrected at the ballot boxes on 26 May.”
Haggling over top posts has begun
The main purpose of the summit in Sibiu is to open the race for the top jobs in the EU, La Repubblica contends:
“Initially conceived as an opportunity to revitalise the EU after the Brexit and two weeks before the continental vote, the summit hosted by Romanian President Iohannis in Sibiu has lost sight of its objective. But at least it gives Donald Tusk the opportunity to sound out the heads of state and government for the nominations. ... The unresolved Merkel question is still hanging in the air. But even if the chancellor continues to deny it, several leaders believe she may still step forward to take over as president of the European Council.”