The German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ made the best summary of the Brussels mini EU-summit on Sunday which was dubbed the ‘Summit To Save Merkel’ by some, when it stated that the spirit of the three men who were not in attendance, Hungary’s Prime Minister Mr Viktor Orban, Germany’s interior Minister Mr Horst Seehofer and Italy’s Interior Minister Mr Matteo Salvini still enjoyed a grand influence over the meeting.
Political analyst Mr Peter Müller wrote: “The Seehofer virus has affected the whole EU.”
In essence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured with EU President Mr Juncker is faced with pressure from within her own CDU-CSU party to take a tougher stance on European migration.
This, combined with a new populist government in Italy that has recently decided, against EU policy, to turn away migrant ships that arrive in its ports, led her to decide to have a mini-summit with 16 nations attending in Brussels yesterday in order to get everyone’s nose pointing in the same direction before the full summit on EU immigration policy this Thursday, where all 28 member states will be present.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">In 8-point plan presented to EU leaders Italy's PM Giuseppe Conte called for severing link between the safe port of disembarkation & competency to examine asylum rights. Populist demands to rip up existing system add to pressure on German chancellor <a href="https://t.co/Ozl6cXU4Pn">https://t.co/Ozl6cXU4Pn</a></p>— Alpha Journal (@Alpha_Journal) <a href="https://twitter.com/Alpha_Journal/status/1011229428037365760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 25, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Ms Merkel’s fear is that the number of countries opposing her views on immigration is getting too great for her to control in fact. With Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all calling for harsher regulation whilst the Balkan nations simply oppose acceptance of any future immigration, Ms Merkel sees most allies disappear.
In the north, the Scandinavian countries agree in principle to the humanitarian task of helping, but the government of Denmark, Sweden and Finland are all plagued by populist and nationalist parties riding high in the polls.
France’s President Macron remains as an ally, as do Portugal and Spain’s new PM Mr Sanchez (though he doesn’t have a working majority). Lastly there is Greece’s leftwing government but Ms Merkel wouldn’t want to be seen by her own voters as choosing the Greek side in anything given the German voters reluctance to repay Greek debt.
The low countries Netherlands and Belgium are counting down to their own respective regional elections and also see populist parties climbing. The whole calculation leaves Ms Merkel with a bad hand in the deal.
In the end, the meeting was drawn to a close without a real solution on any issue and it now remains to be seen what Ms Merkel will come up with on Thursday as a solution to soothe her own base.
Mr Giuseppe Conte, the new Prime Minister of Italy instead claimed victory, stating that most participants agreed with a plan that he suggested, which would mark an important shift in Europe’s 25 year old migration policy.
His document, which he proposed to be adopted as European law, claims that: “whoever arrives in Italy, arrives in Europe. We must reaffirm responsibility and solidarity. Schengen is at stake.”