Diplomats outside the group of the six founding members of the European Union, who have had meetings to discuss the future of the EU, spoke ironically about the initiative.
The ministers of foreign affairs of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg recently met in Berlin to discuss the aftermath of Brexit and the need for the EU to reform.
But the format appears to be largely discredited, according to statements by diplomats not belonging to these six countries which signed the Treaty of Rome in 1958.
As one diplomat from a Western country put it today (27 June), these ministers did not even express the views of their political leaders. The remark was obviously intended at Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s center-left foreign minister, who has taken liberties with respect to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But even France’s Jean-Marc Ayrault, a Socialist like President François Hollande, has sometimes made statements contradicting his boss. Recently, he said that the EU summit, which begins tomorrow should discuss the sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, while Hollande agreed that the sanctions should be renewed without debate.
Another diplomat said that the format of the ministers didn’t have much credibility, as five of them are Socialists and one is a liberal.
Indeed, Ayrault, Steinmeier, Paolo Gentiloni from Italy, Bert Koenders from Netherlands, Jean Asselborn from Luxemburg are Socialists or social democrats, while Belgium’s Didier Reynders is a liberal.
Diplomats also said that the EU today was twenty-seven countries, not six.
The ministers of the six founding members met for the first time last February, delivering a message to the Central and Eastern European members, some of which have rejected common European solutions to tackle the refugee crisis, that the EU could be redesigned with a core sharing the same values.
“We don’t want a core Europe,” a diplomat from a Central European country said today. He added that a multi-speed Europe already existed, with the euro and Schengen, which not all EU members are part of.
“As long as multi-speed is open [for the other EU members to join], it’s fine by us,” the diplomat said.