EU summit seeks success after turbulent year | Free press

Brussels (dpa) – After a violent dispute with Hungary and Poland, the EU summit on Thursday must finally pave the way for the European budget package and Corona aid.

The basis is a compromise that Germany has negotiated with both countries on the new rule of law clause, which the other EU countries are now investigating.

In addition, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her colleagues want to set a new EU climate target for 2030 and advise on possible sanctions against Turkey. The fight against the corona pandemic is also an issue. The meeting is overshadowed by the Brexit dispute.

This means that the heads of state or government will be faced with important decisions in the coming years. For Merkel it is an opportunity to complete important projects within three weeks before the end of the German presidency of the EU Council. “This summit will determine the balance of this Council Presidency and Chancellor Merkel’s political legacy,” said Green-European politician Franziska Brantner of the German news agency. Merkel must not allow lazy compromises.

BUDGET: Hungary and Poland blocked the € 1.8 trillion budget package, including € 750 billion in corona aid, because they rejected a new rule of law mechanism. Germany sought a compromise in the EU presidency. According to this, an additional statement should state the options available to Hungary and Poland to defend themselves against the application of the procedure to punish violations of the rule of law. The proposal was welcomed by the other 24 countries, an EU representative said. However, the decision rests with the heads of state or government.

FDP European politician Nicola Beer warned EU states in view of the budget dispute to reconsider the principle of unanimity. This systemic flaw forces the EU to its knees and repeatedly encourages political horse trade on summits, the Vice-President of the European Parliament said.

CLIMATE: According to the specifications of the Paris Agreement, the EU wants to set itself a new, more ambitious climate target: instead of the previously planned 40 percent, greenhouse gases must be reduced by at least 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Before the summit, however, not all 27 EU countries supported the goal. Stone-coal countries such as Poland are pushing for financial aid. Therefore, the decision on the climate target is closely linked to a resolution of the budget dispute, diplomats said.

TURKEY: How is the EU responding to the ongoing provocations from the Ankara government? The heads of state and government want to answer this question on Thursday evening. Countries like France, Greece and Cyprus are pushing for the toughest possible course with painful EU sanctions up to and including suspension of the customs union. Germany, among others, is convinced that Turkey, for example, is needed as a partner in the fight against illegal migration and must not be alienated.

Ultimately, there could be a compromise to put more people and companies on the sanction list over the ongoing Turkish gas explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean – coupled with the signal that further provocations could lead to further punishment. CSU European politician Manfred Weber called for a faster pace in the newspaper “Bild” on Thursday. “The German and French governments can no longer rule out the possibility of suspending already agreed arms transfers.”

CORONA: EU countries continue to strive to cooperate in the fight against the pandemic. In the summit statement, they pledge to coordinate the relaxation of restrictions on the road to normal travel. The European Commission is expected to make recommendations on the use and mutual recognition of rapid antigen testing. A vaccination certificate must also be developed together.

FIGHT AGAINST TERROR: Following the terrorist attacks in Vienna, Nice and Dresden, EU states have been drafted to rely on the controversial data retention tool – ie the storage of telephone and internet connection data. We must make progress in the fight against serious crime, while respecting fundamental rights and the case law of the European Court of Justice. At the same time, the latest attacks are condemned, as are attacks on freedom of expression and religion, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.

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