Summit conclusions and future of the EU headline Wednesday’s plenary debates

Summit conclusions and future of the EU headline Wednesday’s plenary debates
Speed Reading
ead MEPs from Parliament’s political groups reacted on Wednesday to last week’s European Council and outlined their priorities ahead of the Rome declaration which will focus on the future of the EU. The majority of MEPs stressed the need for member states to set the EU on a course to tackle the immediate needs of citizens.

Welcoming the Italian Prime Minister and the Council and Commission presidents, EP President Antonio Tajani said that the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaty would be “an opportunity to bring Europe closer to its citizens and to promote our values in the world.” (…) “Now more than ever, what we need is unity. We must change, but by no means weaken the EU.”

On Europe’s future, Council President Donald Tusk said “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. He promised to strive in the Brexit talks for political unity among the 27, whilst ensuring that UK and EU stay “close friends”. “Doors will always stay open for our British friends”, he added. But he rejected “claims, taking the form of threats, that ‘no deal’ would be bad for the EU. It would be bad for both, but for the UK in particular”. Speaking in Dutch, Mr Tusk expressed solidarity with the Netherlands, a “place of freedom and democracy”.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Juncker (part. 2) warned against narrowing the future of Europe to a “two-speed” scenario: “I don’t want a new ‘iron curtain’ in Europe”. Mr Junckerraised the Turkish attacks on the Netherlands saying these were “totally unacceptable” and that those responsible were moving Turkey away from the EU. He also noted that the new US trade policy was raising expectations for the EU to become the new world leader of multilateral free trade, but stressed that all free trade talks must include social partners and civil society.

If we do not reduce unemployment and leave the EU countries alone at the frontline of the migration crisis; if we give in to nationalisms and leave behind the weakest, “there will be no citizens’ trust in the EU”, said Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. On the “two-speed EU” debate, he said: “No to two Europes, big and small, east and west (…), but yes to one in which each country has its own level of ambition and can choose to join (…) at any time, now or later, and everybody is involved in the common project”.

For the Council Presidency, Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech said that the current times demand decisive action from the EU and member states’ leaders. He also warned against falling into negative mind-sets. On the EU’s future, Mr Grech said that the Rome declaration must be followed up concretely, but stressed that there should be “no second class citizens, no quick-fix solutions, and no knee-jerk reactions”.

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