BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) – With today’s special summit of four heads of state, Berlin is preparing the EU’s transformation in response to the Brexit. The German chancellor will meet in Versailles this afternoon with France’s president and the prime ministers of Italy and Spain. Selected southern EU members have been included in alleged leadership meetings with the German chancellor to prevent a southern European bloc from emerging, which could possibly, in the future, put an end to German austerity dictates. With Great Britain’s exit, the neo-liberal oriented EU countries are loosing the necessary quorum for a veto in EU bodies. Berlin could also encounter problems with the Eastern European “Visegrád Group,” which does not want to support the emergence of a powerful integrated core around a German hub, because it would consolidate a two or even three-class EU. Reinforcement of the EU’s anti-refugee border-management and particularly its resolute militarization are emerging as the common denominators for the Union’s transformation.
In Small Circles
Over the years, the German government has organized EU consultations in small circles, sometimes even in bilateral talks. German-French meetings have become legendary. Here preliminary decisions on key issues have frequently been made – most recently during the Euro crisis. The “German-French couple” was usually benevolently described as the EU’s indispensable engine; however the consultations between Bonn/Berlin and Paris have, in fact, resulted in a disempowerment of the smaller member countries. In 2003, in view of the EU’s eastward expansion that would complicate power relations, the German-French meetings had been supplemented with the “G5,” regular meetings of the five major EU countries (Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain). With Poland joining in 2006, the “G5” became the “G6,” with the focus remaining on domestic repression and anti-refugee border-management. Berlin occasionally resorted to the “Weimar Triangle” format (Germany, France, Poland), if politically opportune. Allegedly Poland was to become more involved in important EU decisions within the framework of “European reconciliation.” In reality, however, Warsaw was given an assumed exclusive position to prevent possible resistance to German policy plans.
No More Veto
The Two-Class EU
At the moment, Berlin is having more problems with the “Visegrád countries” – Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Since they signed their cooperation agreement (February 15, 1991) in the northern Hungarian city of Visegrád, they have been consistently working together. For a long time, this format had not been taken very seriously, especially because Germany has repeatedly managed to forge strong exclusive ties with Poland – for example within the framework of the Weimar Triangle. Recently, these four countries have intensified their cooperation. Among other things, they have joined forces to ward off migration and consequently refuse to accept refugees. Following last Thursday’s summit in Warsaw, the Visegrád countries presented their positions on reforming the EU. According to these, they do not want to support the rise of a powerful core of integration around a German hub within the emerging “multi-speed EU” that Berlin is promoting, because this would help consolidate an EU of two or three classes. We must “pull in one direction” and “pursue a common objective,” it was twittered concerning the contents of the Warsaw position paper. There could be common objectives in the common market, for example, or even in warding off refugees and establishing foreign and military policies.
Europe’s Common Denominator
In spite of all its other contradictions, it is in fact, the foreign and military policy, which is emerging as the field, where the EU is most likely to reach agreement. Today, Monday, the EU’s foreign and defense ministers will hold consultations on further measures for the Union’s militarization. Thursday, the European Council will evaluate recent foreign and military policy measures, which – under German pressure – should be implemented in the summer. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Whether the EU will be reformed along the lines Germany is proposing, in questions other than the militarization, will depend primarily on Berlin’s success in breaking up or otherwise countering the various pockets of resistance in the south and in the east.