Prime Minister Charles Michel met Thursday morning for over an hour and a half with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to prepare for the informal Bratislava summit of September 16th. This summit of 27 –without the United Kingdom– should allow taking stock of the future of the European project, nearly three months after the “Leave” victory in the British referendum on remaining within the EU. Charles Michel and Jean-Claude Juncker mentioned Brexit and its consequences during their conversation. “I reminded him that for Belgium, freedom of transit and access to the market are very important points,” declared the Prime Minister to Belga following the meeting. He renewed his call for the British government to state its plans as soon as possible. “The sooner things are clear, the better.”
The two men also discussed the matter of relations with Turkey, nearly two months after the failed coup which brought strong repression from the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The subject will be considered at Bratislava, assured the Prime Minister, with the idea being to see “how to define a relationship with Turkey” beyond matters of migration. Turkey is definitely an essential partner for the EU in holding back migrants seeking to reach Europe.
Finally, like Wednesday with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister pleaded for reinforcing cohesion within the Eurozone and for the 27 to act in concrete terms. “There are political blockades in certain governments. I’m referring to the Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia), particularly regarding social dumping.” It will be necessary, at the Bratislava summit, to “reach political compromises for reshaping things,” offering for example guarantees regarding immigration in exchange for progress on social dumping.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)