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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Informal summit in Sibiu confirmed european unity

On May 9, Romania hosted an informal summit of the heads of the European Union, where its leaders discussed the future of the European vector of development of the EU for the next 5 years. As a result of this summit in June, the EU Council will adopt a strategy within the framework of which the vision of the internal and foreign policy of the European Union will be determined. Three years after the summit in Bratislava, where European politicians identified the main challenges of the migration crisis, terrorism and conflicts on the border with the EU - the heads of European States gathered in Romania in the center of Transylvania in Sibiu for an informal summit of EU heads under the motto "the Future of Europe".

The objective of this meeting is to agree on a roadmap for the EU's foreign and domestic policy, as well as to discuss the strategy that will be adopted at the next summit in June. Summit in Sibiu took place with the participation of European leaders - Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, as well as top EU officials: the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Following the summit, the Sibiu Declaration was adopted. The document includes 10 points, which refers to the commitment to the principles of a united Europe, the intention is to make common joint decisions, to protect the European way of life, democracy and the rule of law, to bring justice and put people above politics and ambitions. The Declaration also contains the intention to protect its citizens, to preserve Europe for future generations and to remain a responsible global leader. «Today's discussion has been marked by the fact that we are able to create the future of the European Union together. We have adopted a resolution on the promotion of democracy, development and peace. The draft resolution is important both for domestic policy and for our external neighbours. I am glad that today Romania is sending this unique positive signal from the member states and European institutions on the consolidation of Europe on the basis of our values. We have adopted a political Declaration that will remain in the history of the EU. This is a confirmation of our readiness to develop the European vector together», Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said [1].

It is expected that the Sibiu Declaration will be the beginning of deeper cooperation in the EU: at the level of member states, at the regional level and in terms of international policy. Iohannis is convinced that European countries are ready to continue to develop the European project. In addition, one of the points of the Declaration was the promise of responsible EU leadership in the face of new challenges. "We will continue to work with our partners around the world to maintain and develop a rules-based international order, maximize new trade opportunities and jointly address global challenges such as preservation of the environment and climate change," the document says[2].

President of the European Council Donald Tusk noted that during the discussions, each of the European leaders expressed their readiness to be responsible for the entire European space. Following the Sibiu summit in June, the EU Council will adopt a new strategic order for the period 2019-2024. "The results of the discussion will be visible in June, when the European Council will approve the EU priorities for the next five years. The leaders demonstrated that they are ready to take responsibility not only for their country, but also for the challenges that the whole of Europe faces," Tusk said. Thus, the Declaration of the informal summit will be a kind of draft EU strategy for the next 5 years.[3]

ESGA president and romanian expert Angela Gramada believes that this EU Declaration demonstrates that it does not limit the possibilities of third countries for European integration, but the EU itself will not take any measures for rapprochement with candidates for joining the European Union. «There's not much ambition in the text. This is a kind of "to-do list" for European leaders, for decision makers. The next is foreign policy: the role that the EU should assume and the opportunities that it should promote as a global player. I would like very much this statement to be a sign of the emotional maturity and maturity of the decisions of the parties that have signed firm, not declaratory, commitments on foreign policy actions or trade partnerships, to show unity outside the European Union», Angela Gramada said [4]. The expert added that Ukraine needs to promote internal changes in order to achieve results in the external arena.

The Declaration explicitly states that the European Union recognizes the European perspective for other European states, but does not specify the term for those state actors who wish to become members of the EU. This means that the EU will not take any action in the near future to bring Ukraine closer to EU membership. Kyiv must understand the following: European integration of Ukraine depends on how much Ukraine wants this European perspective to become a reality. «You cannot knock on the doors of the European Union without being prepared, or without adopting the mechanisms on which the EU operates. You can force the European Union to change the "recognition of perspective" to "granting member status" only through internal, coordinated and responsible actions in accordance with European principles and values», the expert explained[5].

Ukraine agrees that the next 5 years Ukraine may deviate from the attention of the European Union. However, Ukrainian political scientist Yevgeny Magda stressed that the EU policy will become clear after the elections to the European Parliament. "The policy will depend not on this summit, but on the elections to the European Parliament, where after all, eurosceptics will strengthen their positions, therefore we need to be realistic and understand that the next 5 years for Ukraine are unlikely to be a triumph in the European direction. At the same time, we need to understand that we can achieve the desired, to move closer to the EU, only by fulfilling the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, that is, the domestic task that Ukraine faces. This means that we do not need to act from the position of a beggar in the international arena, but we need to set ambitious but realistic goals and show, first of all, our strengths, " Magda said.[6]

The Summit in Sibiu demonstrated that the EU is not indifferent to its future and wants more attention to the elections to the European Parliament. The main outcome of the informal meeting was the Sibiu Declaration, which demonstrated the desire to demonstrate the undeniable unity of Europe in the background of Brexit.



[2] Ibid. 

[3] Ibid. 

[4] Ibid. 

[5] Ibid. 

[6] Ibid.