Hollande to embark on tour to reinforce EU-27 ties

François Hollande at the 29 June 2016 summit. [Council]

French President François Hollande will shortly be embarking on a European tour in a bid to reinforce ties between EU member states following Britain’s referendum to leave the Union.

The French president will be visiting Portugal on 19 July, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia on 20 July and Ireland on 21 July 19-21, in order to follow up on work already started with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and give a “new impulse to Europe at 27”, says a communiqué released by the French Presidential Palace, the Elysée.

The decision comes after Hollande, Merkel and Renzi told reporters that Europe needed new momentum, including in the areas of “defence, growth, employment and competitiveness”.

Merkel, Hollande and Renzi in show of unity over Brexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Sunday (26 June) that EU countries won’t negotiate the UK’s divorce with the European Union until the British government formally notifies them that it will leave.

The trip will represent an opportunity for France to win the backing of more left-leaning Southern countries, such as Portugal, as well as to seek a rapprochement with Austria and the Slovak presidency of the EU.

Socialist Costa to head Portuguese government with uneasy far-left backing

Portugal’s president named Socialist leader Antonio Costa as prime minister on Tuesday, ending weeks of political stalemate and paving the way for the first, if potentially unstable, Socialist government reliant on the far left for its survival.

Defying the EU, Austria and Slovakia, a member of the Visegrad group, have forged their own policies on migration.

Austria buries hope for EU response to refugee crisis

Tensions reached a boiling point between the European states worst affected by the refugee crisis ahead of a meeting of Balkan states in Vienna today (24 February), as new figures showed no let-up in the influx of asylum seekers.

Visegrad countries call for ‘alternative plan’ to counter migration crisis

The Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak prime ministers who met in Prague in the framework of the Visegrad Four (V4) group called for an alternative back-up plan to stop refugees at Greece’s borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia, in case present measures prove ineffective.

The Visegrad group, consisting of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, has called for a complete change in the functioning of the EU and its institutions.

Visegrad calls for complete change of EU-27

As the EU summit continues today (29 June) without UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Visegrad group comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, will call for an inside out change of the functioning of the EU and its institutions.

The Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who presides over the rotating EU presidency, is advocating the return of power from the EU institutions to the capitals and will host a summit on the future of Europe in Budapest on 16 September.

Slovakia advocates returning EU power to capitals

Speaking to Brussels journalists on a press trip to Bratislava, the Slovak premier, and his foreign minister, shed light on their ambitions for steering the Union for the next six months, and laying the groundwork for a rethink of the EU, following the shock of the UK referendum.

In Austria, the presidential run-off election must be held again on 2 October, which opens the door to a possible victory of Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). Austria’s outgoing President Heinz Fischer stepped down on 8 July, after 12 years in office.

Austrian far right gets election defeat annulled

Austria’s presidential run-off election must be held again, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled on Friday (1 July), handing the Freedom Party’s narrowly defeated candidate another chance to become the first far-right head of state in the European Union.


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