European leaders met today in the Slovakian capital for a one-day summit, the first of several confidence-building meetings where a new plan for Europe is to be decided.

The gathering was held without the UK and focused on security, defence cooperation and the economy; issues that the 27 member states seemingly agree on.

The statement issued at the end of the meeting by the leaders recognises that the EU needs to follow a new course but hardly any concrete measures are presented.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer MEP expressed disappointment at the lack of courage and decisive action coming out of Bratislava:

“The only concrete outcome we saw coming out of this summit are measures to strengthen the EU’s external borders. EU leaders want to give citizens the impression that they are in control and that the EU is back in business and capable of guaranteeing security. Instead of combating the rise of right-wing nationalism and populisms the EU is, in this way, strengthening their voice.”

Zimmer criticised the EU heads of state for giving credence to the idea of voluntary refugee quotas:

“EU leaders found common ground in the flawed demands of the Visegrad group by apparently proposing a trade-off between countries taking in refugees and those securing EU borders, the so-called ‘flexible solidarity’.”

“European leaders do not recollect anymore the advantages of a European integration built on values of an open society and respect for fundamental human rights.”

The German MEP concluded by saying that the European leadership must listen to the genuine concerns of citizens to forge the path ahead:  

“The Bratislava declaration provides no vision or leadership for Europe and relies on recycled platitudes: no end to austerity, no changes to the treaty, no courage to change the path of the Union.”

“The path ahead must respond to the legitimate fears and aspirations of European citizens, their desire for social inclusion, jobs and a dignified living. The closing of borders brings no change to these longstanding issues. A progressive Europe invests on health, education, job creation, growth and integration.”

“These meetings of heads of state seem to no longer be the forum where meaningful and decisive decisions are made for Europe,” Zimmer concluded.  

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