EU is still a successful model: Chancellor Merkel
The Chancellor has praised the EU, which she described as a "unique instrument for peace". In the run-up to the anniversary summit at the end of March, the EU intends to "demonstrate its unity" said Angela Merkel in Brussels, where the 27 remaining EU member states have discussed the future of the Union.
Following the meeting of the 27 heads of state and government Chancellor Angela Merkel declared her confidence that the planned declaration to be published at the EU’s anniversary summit meeting on 25 March in Rome will "demonstrate unity".
The EU is a successful model
The informal meeting on Friday, which took place without the United Kingdom, made the preparations for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. There was a consensus that "in spite of all the problems we have, the European Union is a successful model that combines economic strength and social welfare," said Angela Merkel after the meeting.
A declaration is planned, in which the EU lays out a common perspective for the years to come, on the basis of the shared values of member states. Angela Merkel said that this can be "self-assured" and "optimistic".
Everyone can become involved
Angela Merkel stressed that the proposed "multi-speed Europe" should not raise fears that there will be "different classes of Europeans". Within the European family, every family member will have access to the projects; individual states will not, however, be forced to get involved.
The Chancellor once again described the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as a "wake up call", which raises the question of the efficiency of the EU. It is important that "we concentrate on what is genuinely important today" in Europe.
New European Council President elected
At the start of their meeting on Thursday in Brussels, the EU heads of state and government re-elected Donald Tusk to the post of President of the European Council. Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated him on Twitter. Germany supported his re-election. 27 of the 28 member states agreed that Donald Tusk was the right person for the job. Only Poland voted against him.
Supporting economic recovery in the euro zone
All member states have now returned to growth, reported the Chancellor. Unemployment is lower than it has been for a great many years. A total of 4.5 million new jobs have been created over the last three years. "These are positive signs," said Angela Merkel.
One focus of this spring meeting of the European Council was strengthening the economic recovery of the euro zone. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, who attended the meetings as a guest, sees these achievements. He did, however, point out that structural reforms are indispensable, if Europe is to enjoy a lasting economic upswing.
Greater cooperation to tackle illegal migration
Cooperation with neighbouring states is a major component in efforts to secure the EU’s external borders, said the Chancellor following the discussions in Brussels. Participants agreed that illegal, criminal human trafficking must be ended, above all to save the lives of refugees.
"We are progressing slowly, but we have not yet managed to stabilise the migration situation," said Angela Merkel. The member states are in agreement that Europe needs a new, uniform asylum system.
Expanding cooperation on security and defence
Europe must accept greater responsibility for its own security. Back at the Bratislava summit meeting in September and at the summit held in December 2016, the leaders of the 27 EU states decided to step up cooperation in the field of defence. Important goals are:
1. To put cooperation in the defence sector on a long-term footing and to structure it;
2. To enable partners like Mali to ensure their own security;
3. To jointly plan and manage civilian and military operations to a greater extent.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has already announced proposals for a Military Planning and Conduct Capability Office, which is to help manage ongoing military missions better and more efficiently.