quinta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2016
The two-presidents Europe
The two-presidents Europe
Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have competing visions for Europe.
9/14/16, 6:02 PM CET
STRASBOURG — Jean-Claude Juncker’s Europe is different from Donald Tusk’s Europe.
Tusk, the European Council president, believes the EU needs time to lick its wounds and should shift power back from Brussels to national capitals. Juncker, who runs the European Commission, trusts in the power of EU legislation to nudge countries toward common ground.
Those contrasting views were brought into even sharper relief this week in the build-up to a summit Friday on the future of a post-Brexit EU, as both presidents offered visions of how Europe can get out of its state of perma-crisis. Juncker’s forum was his annual State of the Union address Wednesday to the European Parliament; Tusk’s was more subtle, in a letter he sent to EU national leaders Tuesday and then released publicly as his “personal reflections.”
Describing the EU in his message to leaders, Tusk referred ominously to a continent on the edge of collapse, a place where political elites struggle with “restoring control over events and processes which overwhelm, disorientate, and sometimes terrify” people.
Tusk also described a continent in need of more security and stronger border protections, and less “politically correct statements that Europe cannot become a fortress.” His message ahead of the Friday summit in Bratislava was an attempt to accommodate Eastern European criticism of current EU refugee policies, which have been pushed by Germany and by Juncker’s Commission.
EU leaders, in Tusk’s view, should prevent both “last year’s chaos on our borders” and “new images every day of hundreds of thousands of people moving across our continent without any control” — echoing the language of Brexiteers who described chaos on the Continent and the importance of “taking back control.”
Tusk also made it clear who should be taking back that control: national capitals. He wrote that “giving new powers to European institutions is not the desired recipe. National electorates want more influence on the decisions of the Union.”
In other words, the EU needs to learn a lesson from Brexit.
That’s a view shared by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Polish government. The two countries, together with the two other members of the Visegrád group, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, will offer their own vision of Europe’s future on Friday, two diplomatic sources said. The proposal will call for a key role for national governments and parliaments in EU decision-making.
But not all EU governments were thrilled with Tusk’s message.
European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker arrives to make his State of the Union speech: but how did he fare?
“Many had wished for a more positive agenda,” said one government official who took part in a meeting of EU diplomats Monday. The official said he was surprised to see that Tusk’s lines “barely changed” between Monday and Tuesday night, when his letter was made public.
While acknowledging the “existential crisis” facing Europe, Juncker made a special effort Wednesday to put forward a “positive” agenda. He offered a list of legislative proposals he thinks leaders can rally behind at a time, he said, when Brexit looms and there is “so little commonality in our Union.”
“It is as if there is almost no intersection between the EU and its national capitals anymore” — Jean-Claude Juncker
In one sense he agreed with Tusk on the EU diagnosis: Brexit is bad, Europe is in a deep crisis. “It is as if there is almost no intersection between the EU and its national capitals anymore,” Juncker told MEPs.
But the Commission president offered a different cure.
“Do we give in to a very natural feeling of frustration?” he asked. “Do we allow ourselves to become collectively depressed? Do we want to let our Union unravel before our eyes? Or do we say: Is this not the time to pull ourselves together?”
Both Tusk and Juncker claim to have taken Europe’s pulse in recent weeks, speaking to representatives from every EU country in an effort to find areas of common ground. Juncker said he found “fragmentation,” and listed only a few policy areas on which a large majority of countries could agree: cooperation on defense, security and the fight against terrorism, and the EU’s single market. The focus, he said, should be on things once seen as an EU strength but now controversial in voters’ eyes, such as trade policy.
Juncker was not afraid to challenge national leaders with his speech, urging them back to the table to make them work on what he thinks Europeans want: “Common decisions followed by swift and efficient implementation.”
He also challenged his presidential counterpart, by proposing that leaders at the Bratislava meeting Tusk will chair come up with “three reasons why we need the EU.”
But Juncker has no illusions about whether even that will happen Friday, according to an aide who helped prepare the speech. “In some cases,” the aide said, “even one reason would be fine.”