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07 March 2017

POLITICO: In Versailles, EU’s big 4 back multispeed Europe

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With Britain’s departure looming, the leaders of the four largest remaining EU powers — Germany, France, Italy and Spain — met in Versailles and endorsed the concept of a multispeed Europe, in which members of the bloc would pursue greater integration but at each country’s own chosen pace.

The gathering of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was a notable, if symbolic, show of muscle and solidarity by the four wealthiest and most populous EU countries, and signaled their resolve in forming a unified core of continental continuity after Brexit. [...]

The meeting of the Formidable 4 did not include anything special or surprising. Indeed, the leaders seemed to focus only on communicating a common response to the white paper issued last week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker laying out five potential scenarios for the future of the EU.

That common response was a clear preference for scenario 3, the so-called multispeed Europe. Rather than bending to the Euroskeptics, it calls for greater cooperation and integration to the degree each country is ready for it, on issues such as defense, security, taxation and social policies. The meeting was essentially a show of unity ahead of the upcoming EU summits in Brussels and Rome, as well as the expected triggering by Britain of Article 50 this month.

In a statement to the press afterward, the leaders spoke in four languages but with essentially one voice.

Hollande called it “differentiated cooperations,” while Merkel called on the EU to accept “that some countries will go faster than others.” Gentiloni said we should allow “different levels of integration” to take place.

“It was necessary for us four to all gather here to realize that we are in a time of tension,” Merkel said. “We need optimism … and the ability to act.”

She added, “We must have the courage to accept that some countries go ahead and can make progress a little faster than others.”


Rajoy said his country was ready to go further with EU integration. “Our countries must make choices,” he said. “Because without choices, we will undermine the EU.”

Full article on POLITICO


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