September 19, 2016
Unhappy in Bratislava
We note that we are not alone with our criticism of the emptiness of the Bratislava summit. A day after, Matteo Renzi went back to his old playground, the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, in which he criticised the EU's tendency to hold summits in different places with declarations without heart and vision. He called Bratislava a missed opportunity. Italian newspapers noted that his absence from the final press conference was a sign that he did not want to be associated with this meeting. He is quoted by Politico as saying the following
“If on some issues both are satisfied with the outcome, I’m happy for them,” he said. “I can’t do a joint press conference with the German chancellor or the French president because I don’t share the conclusions to the same extent than they do.”
For those with ample time on their hands can the Bratislava declaration in full. We would like to draw three comments to your attention. Wolfgang Munchau writes in the Financial Times that the EU is suffering from attention deficit disorder. The causes for the deep dissatisfaction by voters are the catastrophic economic policies since the global financial crisis, both in the eurozone and, for different reasons, in the UK. In the UK, the median voters' real incomes had fallen over the last 13 years. If EU leaders want to fix the problem, they will need to reverse their economic policies, rather than trying to solve the problem through formal declarations of European unity
"Having messed up the economy for the last fifteen years, they are now turning to security."
Sven Giegold made a similar observation. EU leaders are turning the EU into a security union. The governments will not achieve solutions for high unemployment, low investments and structural weaknesses of entire regions. They have left that discussion until December.
Federico Fubini notes in Corriere della Sera that the latest Eurobarometre polls shows Italy's support for the EU as lower than even that of the UK. Only 49% of Italians feel European, in second last place ahead of Bulgaria, and only 32% have a favourable view of the EU.