28 June 2015

EU solidarity?

Extraordinary report in The Observer of last week's European Summit:
Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, was incensed by the refusal of several countries, including Hungary, which has taken in 60,000 refugees since the beginning of the year, and the Czech Republic, to agree to take part in a compulsory refugee-sharing scheme to help ease Italy’s burden. Cameron kept fairly quiet. The UK has opted out of EU asylum policy and Renzi, who was in an emotional state, did not need to be reminded of its non-participation. But others took up the cudgels as the row intensified across the table. Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian president, told Renzi in no uncertain terms that her country would not take part either. Bulgaria, one of the EU’s poorest countries, took a similar line. Disputes flared. European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, prime mover behind the idea of compulsory burden sharing, and council president Donald Tusk tore strips off each other over what should be done, as inter-institutional solidarity broke down.
Angela Merkel said that the migration challenge was the most serious and difficult she had encountered in the EU during her time as German chancellor (Greece is also somewhat on her mind) as Renzi railed against fellow leaders for betraying the EU’s values. A voluntary scheme was all that was agreed. “Do as you like,” Renzi protested. “If this is your idea of Europe, keep it for yourself … you do not deserve to call yourself Europe. Either we have solidarity or we waste our time!”
These guys are not getting enough sleep.


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