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France hosts "mini EU summit" at Versailles


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France hosts "mini EU summit" at Versailles


  • The French president has hosted a mini-summit with the leaders of Germany, Spain and Italy in Versailles.
  • No major announcements were expected from Monday’s mini-summit in Versailles ahead of EU Council meeting this week.
  • 25 March 60th anniversary seen as an opportunity for reflection and will include a declaration on the future of the EU post-Brexit.
  • several options on the table, including “multi-speed Europe” favoured by Paris and Berlin
  • Hollande stressing importance of defence in face of rise of populism, declarations of US president Donald Trump.

    The French president has hosted a mini-summit with the leaders of Germany, Spain and Italy in Versailles.

    They gathered at the opulent palace – the symbol, for many, of France’s “Ancien Regime” or old order – to prepare for the upcoming commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

    The celebrations will take place on the 25th of March – without the UK.

    The anniversary is also an opportunity for reflection and will include a declaration on the future of the EU post-Brexit.





    Who was at the summit?


    • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
    • Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
    • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
    French President Francois Hollande

    A “multi-speed” Europe?


    Several options for the shape of the future of the bloc have been put on the table.

    Francois Hollande says the option of a “multi-speed” Europe, with different countries integrating at different levels, has been resisted for a long time but is now being considered as a possibility.

    If not, Hollande warns, Europe might break up.

    A “multi-speed” Europe is the favoured scenario of Paris and Berlin from five put forward last week by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

    They ranged from a simple single market plan to deepened integration.



    Defence


    Hollande also says Europe should re-orientate itself around the concept of defence.

    Speaking to six major European newspapers ahead of the Versailles mini-summit, Hollande says it is the only response to the geopolitical situation created by Donald Trump’s election and his defiant declarations about the EU, NATO and Russia.

    “Europe must demonstrate its political unity, economic clout and strategic autonomy,” Hollande told reporters.

    In concrete terms, this would mean a system of “structural cooperation” between EU member states and this would mean “going much further on defence”.

    As Europe’s second-biggest military power behind France, the UK would still be associated despite its exit from the EU. London maintains strong relations with Paris regarding military affairs, particularly in the strategic area of nuclear deterrents.


    EU Council meeting this week


    No major announcements are expected from Monday’s mini-summit in Versailles.

    Those are expected later in the week, when the four leaders will be joined by their other European counterparts in Brussels for a meeting of the European Council.


    Why is the Treaty of Rome important?


    Because it established the European Economic Community, one of the main forerunners of today’s European Union (EU).


    • Officially the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (TEEC)
    • Signed 25 March, 1957
    • Signatories were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, West Germany
    • Came into force 1 January, 1958
    • 1992 Maastricht Treaty removed “economic” from the title
    • In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon renamed it the “Treaty on the functioning of the European Union”

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