Following their meeting in Bratislava on 16 September, the European Council (please don’t confuse this with the Council of Europe – see Europe versus EU in our May archive) issued a Declaration, which can be downloaded from here:
The Declaration is short and thin and is as bland as we would expect from an event that had to reconcile different views on immigration while taking place in eastern Europe.
It starts with the ritual references to the founding motive: “… the EU secured peace, democracy and enabled our countries to prosper.”
There is no reason to believe that the EU secured peace; democracy has been done away with; member states prosper, or otherwise, by their own efforts.
“We committed in Bratislava to offer to our citizens in the upcoming months a vision of an attractive EU they can trust and support.”
They will offer a vision – really.
“[We] proposed the following work programme (the “Bratislava roadmap”):
The Roadmap has five sections; the bulk focuses on migration and security, perhaps as there was little else they could agree on. The first section, “General diagnosis and objective”, offers the following to get our teeth into: “Determined to make a success…”, “Need to tackle…”, “Determined to find…”, “Need to be clear…”. Oh dear!
Section II covers “Migration and external borders” and section III covers “Internal and external security”. Both of these are currently high on the agendas of eastern European member states.
Section IV covers “Economic and social development, youth”. Four ‘concrete’ measures are proposed, here is one: “October European Council to address how to ensure a robust trade policy that reaps the benefits of open markets while taking into account concerns of citizens”
Why would anyone take this stuff seriously? Unanimity on substance is not in evidence.
In section V the “Way ahead” they assure us that they will “Deliver on promises…” and move forward to hold more meetings next year.