"Spirit of cooperation" reigns at EU meeting

Angela Merkel in Bratislava "Spirit of cooperation" reigns at EU meeting

Migration, securing the external borders, internal and external security and ensuring an economic future for all EU citizens – these are the priorities of the Bratislava agenda. In the wake of the Brexit referendum, the remaining 27 EU member states intend to work on the basis of shared values, stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande at a press conference following the EU meeting in Bratislava

Angela Merkel declared that the spirit of Bratislava was a spirit of cooperation

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

The EU heads of state and government of the 27 EU member states, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, produced an extensive agenda for the future of Europe at their meeting in Bratislava. "The EU is not perfect, but it is the best instrument we have for addressing the new challenges we are facing. We need the EU, not only to guarantee peace and democracy but also the security of our people," reads the Bratislava Declaration.

The 27 heads of state and government of EU member states met with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk at the informal meeting in Bratislava. It was the first summit meeting without the United Kingdom.

Road map for Europe’s future

The Bratislava meeting marks the start of a period of intensive work, explained the Chancellor, after the meeting. Compromises will be needed, along with the feeling of solidarity and cooperation, stated Angela Merkel.

The European Union is currently in a difficult position, not only because of the Brexit referendum, but also because of the refugee issue and economic problems. The next few months will be critical. The Chancellor stressed that the 27 member states intend to work on the basis of common values. It is important to demonstrate with actions "that we translate our standards into practice in a way that the people of Europe can understand".

Some of the major objectives of the Bratislava road map include:

Ensuring full control over the external borders, returning to Schengen and putting in place a long-term common policy on migration;
Taking steps to ensure internal security and fight terrorism;
Creating a promising economic future for all citizens, preserving our way of life and improving the opportunities open to young people.

We must demonstrate through actions that we can become better, says Chancellor

At the start of the meeting the Chancellor said that one summit meeting could not be expected to resolve the problems of Europe. "But we must demonstrate, through our actions, that we can become better," said Angela Merkel.

The Bratislava meeting marks the start of a review process which takes as its starting point "the concerns, hopes and wishes of the people, yet is still realistic," said the Chancellor. The process will run until March 2017, when the EU will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. At that point it will have to be considered what projects have been realised and where adjustments or additional action are needed. More meetings are planned. At the start of 2017 there is to be another informal meeting in Malta, which will then hold the EU Presidency.