How will the EU proceed following the British referendum? The heads of state and government of the remaining 27 EU member states will hold an informal summit meeting in Bratislava on 16 September to consider this question. After her trips to Italy, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Poland, Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted meetings at Schloss Meseberg, the German government’s guest house, with the heads of government of Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark (on 26 August) and Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria (on 27 August).
Chancellor Angela Merkel believes it is important to hold talks with a large number of the actors involved before the Bratislava summit meeting. She would like to help ensure that the results of this process of reflection are finally as widely accepted as possible in the member states and among their people. The talks will focus on internal and external security, the EU’s competitiveness and innovative force, and the need to offer the young people in Europe genuine prospects.
In Warsaw Angela Merkel added to these her wish for economic prosperity in Europe. "The people of Europe will only accept Europe if it pledges to bring them prosperity. And if we make it clear that we have an ambition not merely to exist somewhere in the world but to be up there with the leaders".
As Angela Merkel said in Tallinn (on 24 August), following the United Kingdom’s vote it is good "to listen to as many actors as possible within the EU". She spoke of a "phase of listening, understanding, and learning from one another in order to correctly understand and develop the naturally new balance within the 27-member EU".
It is now essential, from the outset, to build the future EU together, calmly and sensibly. Bratislava will not be a summit meeting for decisions, but "a summit meeting that sets an agenda, on the basis of which we then deliver the results month by month that we have undertaken to achieve".
Following meetings in Berlin, Ventotene, Prague and Tallinn, Chancellor Angela Merkel today spoke in Warsaw with the Prime Ministers of the Visegrád states. At a press conference at the start of the meeting Angela Merkel again explained that careful preparation is needed for the Bratislava meeting. She is happy that the summit meeting of the 27 remaining EU members is to take place in Bratislava. Brussels as a venue, would have been "too far removed from everyday life" from the feeling "of what makes Europe special".
With the Chancellor’s shuttle diplomacy in the run-up to the Bratislava summit meeting, Germany, a founder member and one of the larger member states, is accepting its responsibility for the future of the EU.
The Chancellor’s meetings in the run-up to the EU summit meeting in Bratislava:
18.8. - President of the European Council Donald Tusk; 24/25.8. - Tallinn and Prague; 26.8. - Warsaw; 26.8. meeting in Meseberg with the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Denmark; 27.8. meeting in Meseberg with the Austrian Chancellor and the Prime Ministers of Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia. 2.9. – meeting with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in Berlin
On Monday (22 August), on the aircraft carrier Garibaldi off the Italian island of Ventotene, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, French President François Hollande and the Chancellor looked back at the roots of the European Union. In the 21st century, the aim must be to assure the people that Europe is safe and secure, while still upholding European values, said Angela Merkel.
In Tallinn (on 24 August) the Chancellor reminded her audience that following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom it is important to listen to one another in the EU and to learn from one another. We must adopt a good agenda for the coming months "so that the clout and the strength of the European Union become clear".
In terms of migration, opinions differ on allocating arriving migrants and refugees to different EU countries, said the Chancellor in Prague on 25 August. In many areas, however, there is more common ground than differences, for instance, with respect to the EU-Turkey Agreement, protecting the external borders, fighting illegality and tackling the root causes of displacement, as well as stepping up developing assistance.
In Warsaw too the question of protecting the EU’s external borders and migration were on the agenda. As the Chancellor stressed, differences in one area "do not prevent us improving and thinking ahead in the many other areas in which we share common convictions. Although we must, of course, find solutions to the still controversial outstanding matters. Discussion is always the best way to develop, to generate new ideas that will enable us to realise new things."