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Tyskland och Frankrike att leda post- # Brexit EU i ytterligare integration

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More EU integration is a “foregone conclusion”, and France and Germany will take the lead on post-Brexit reforms starting this year, the European Union’s second-in-command said, adding that he hoped the East-West split in the bloc would heal, skriva gabriela Baczynska och jan Strupczewski.

Britain’s vote to leave the EU plunged the bloc into an existential crisis a year ago and unleashed a wave of euroscepticism. But election victories for Emmanuel Macron in France and the pro-EU incumbent in the Netherlands have since given the union new hope.

“I am certainly more optimistic today than I was last year or two years ago,” Frans Timmermans (pictured), deputy head of the European Commission, told Reuters i en intervju.

“Over the last years, rightly or wrongly, the impression was created that Germany is too dominant. So the fact that France now steps in a more assertive way is good for Europe as a whole, is good for France, and especially good for Germany.”

During EU leaders’ talks in Brussels last week, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear they want to work hand-in-hand on the future of the remaining 27 nations.

Holländaren sa att detaljerna fortfarande berodde på det tyska nationella valet i september.

“I understand full well that there will be an impetus driven by France and Germany to European co-operation in the latter part of this year. I also understand that other member states are waking up to that and are also getting organized.”

“That there will be more integration is a foregone conclusion. But in what areas? Let’s wait and see.”

Annons

The 56-year-old listed developing a digital single market for the EU’s 500 million citizens, improving diversity and sustainability of energy supplies, and ensuring fairer trade rules among projects to come.

He was cautious on reforming the single-currency zone, which brings together 19 EU states, after the careful Merkel showed openness to Macron’s ideas for euro budget and finance minister.

Timmermans said Russia’s resurgence has also played a role in galvanising Europe, as did U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a global deal on fighting climate change, and his vague stance on European security guarantees under NATO.

Timmermans talade på måndagseftermiddagen, strax innan Storbritanniens premiärminister Theresa May presenterade sitt erbjudande om att skydda utlandsrättigheter efter Brexit. Även om han inte kommenterade det senaste, sa han att EU-27 väntade på London.

“We didn’t ask them to leave. They asked to leave … The onus is on them now, not on us. We are ready. I want to wait for them to clarify their position and we’ll take it from there.”

“There is going to be harm, on both sides. But let’s try do as little harm as possible,” he said.

“Let’s try and make this a co-operative process, not a confrontational process – and the last thing we want is for it to be a punitive process, because it is not.”

Enigheten mellan de återstående 27 EU-staterna ses allmänt som avgörande för de aldrig tidigare skådade brexitsamtalen. Men splittrande fejder om migration, rättsstatsprincipen och EU-medel har drivit en kil mellan de rikare, västra EU-staterna som förespråkar mer öppna världsbilder och deras tidigare kommunistiska jämnåriga i öst.

Timmermans leder ett unikt rättsstatsfall mot den nationalistiskt sinnade regeringen i Polen, som satte rättsväsendet och statliga medier under mer direkt kontroll. Blocket har också länge uttryckt oro över att undergräva demokratin i Ungern.

“My preferred method is dialogue. And that, with all the frictions we have, is still something we have with the Hungarians, we do not have with this Polish government.”

Han sa att han skulle ta tillbaka ärendet till alla 28 EU-stater för en diskussion senare i år om Warszawa inte skulle återuppta samtalen.

Quipping on criticism from Warsaw, which sees him as lacking authority to interfere, Timmermans said his son sometimes jokingly greets him as the “unelected, faceless bureaucrat”, too.

“I am not that pessimistic because there is so much support for the EU in all these countries,” he said.

En Eurobarometerundersökning i slutet av 2016 visade att Luxemburg, Irland och Nederländerna hade det högsta stödet för EU, medan Grekland, Tjeckien och Italien satt i andra änden.

Stödet för EU i Polen var närmare de högre värdena på 61 procent, och för Ungern låg det på 47 procent, närmare den lägre delen.

Timmermans said more cooperation on security, tighter control of the bloc’s external border and sustaining the revived economic growth would help overcome distrust between EU states that grew over a decade of crises – from banking to migration.

Samtidigt som han hoppades att det nya fransk-tyska samarbetet skulle skapa ett momentum för hela EU, är de östra EU-staterna försiktiga med att beslut fattas ovanför deras huvuden.

“We have to overcome that,” Timmermans said of the east-west divides, pointing to mingling young Europeans as a source of hope.

“You go to my country, you go to Poland, you go to Greece, you go to Scandinavian countries, you go to Spain – everybody under the age of 30 speaks the same bad English, which is very helpful.”

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