European Union (EU) leaders met to discuss their plans for the next five-year period in Sibiu, Romania on 9 May, after the meeting the leaders released a statement with “The Ten Commitments” made by the group to their citizens, but the media lambasted the leaders for their “empty promises,” and for “pussyfooting around the real issues.”
The 27 leaders issued a joint statement from what was always meant to be an informal meeting, but with critical regional issues needing attention the European press expected something with more substance.
Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza reported The Ten Commitments, “mask the fact that the original plans for serious discussion about the EU’s priorities for 2019-2024 have been postponed until after the elections on 26 May.”
The paper went on to say that French President Emmanuel Macron was frustrated at the failure to address the issues of further integration and the reform of the Eurozone, which includes the EU countries that use the Euro as their currency. Some EU countries, notably Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as six former Eastern European states are not part of the Eurozone.
Lost in EUrope, from Belgium was just as scathing. “The ten pledges declared in Romania include the protection of democracy and the rule of law and the defence of the ‘European way of life.’ In Romania of all places – where the rule of law is hollowed out a little more every day! And the ‘European way of life’ is nothing more than a distant dream for the majority of the impoverished population!”
Perhaps Donald Tusk’s response to the Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades, was the most telling. The Cypriot leader told the meeting of Turkish incursions and drilling activities for natural gas in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus.
The President of the European Council responded, “The European Union stands united behind the Republic of Cyprus and expects Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of the EU member state. The European Council will continue to follow these developments closely.”
Turkey still occupies around 30 percent of Cypriot territory following the invasion by Turkish forces in 1974. Talks to end the occupation have always foundered on the issue of missing persons and ownership of property, among other things.
The reality on the ground makes a mockery of the pious words offered in Romania.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Britain’s Minister for exiting the EU, Stephen Barclay, also laid into the EU leaders at the summit. Politico, the news website, said, “EU leaders may be overjoyed to attend the first summit in months not focused on Brexit but that didn’t stop the U.K.’s Brexit secretary from giving them a poke in the eye for what he called ‘lazy thinking’ on Britain’s departure, and a ‘failure’ to look at the longer term beyond Brexit.”
Politico added that departmental officers “immediately recognized the electricity of Barclay’s remarks” and moved to play down their effect, claiming that the minister had not meant to criticise the EU leaders.
The EU’s Ten Commitments:
“We, the Leaders of the European Union, have gathered in Sibiu to discuss and look ahead to our common future.
In a few weeks, Europeans will elect their representatives in the European Parliament, 40 years after they first exercised this fundamental right. A Europe re-united in peace and democracy is but one of many achievements. Since its inception, the European Union, driven by its values and freedoms, has provided stability and prosperity across Europe, within and beyond its borders. Over the years, it has grown into a major player on the international scene. Gathering around half a billion citizens, with a competitive single market, it is a leader in worldwide trade, and shapes global politics.
We reaffirm our belief that united, we are stronger in this increasingly unsettled and challenging world. We recognize our responsibility as Leaders to make our Union stronger and our future brighter, while recognizing the European perspective of other European States. That is why today we unanimously agree on 10 commitments that will help us live up to that responsibility:
- We will defend one Europe – from East to West, from North to South. Thirty years ago millions of people fought for their freedom and for unity and brought down the Iron Curtain, which had divided Europe for decades. There is no place for divisions that work against our collective interest.
- We will stay united, through thick and thin. We will show each other solidarity in times of need and we will always stand together. We can and we will speak with one voice.
- We will always look for joint solutions, listening to each other in a spirit of understanding and respect.
- We will continue to protect our way of life, democracy and the rule of law. The unalienable rights and the fundamental freedoms of all Europeans were hard fought and will never be taken for granted. We will uphold our shared values and principles enshrined in the Treaties.
- We will deliver where it matters most. Europe will continue to be big on big matters. We will continue to listen to the concerns and hopes of all Europeans, bringing the Union closer to our citizens, and we will act accordingly, with ambition and determination.
- We will always uphold the principle of fairness, whether it be in the labour market, in welfare, in the economy or in the digital transformation. We will further reduce disparities between us and we will always help the most vulnerable in Europe, putting people before politics.
- We will give ourselves the means to match our ambitions. We will provide the Union with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies.
- We will safeguard the future for the next generations of Europeans. We will invest in young people and build a Union fit for the future, able to cope with the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.
- We will protect our citizens and keep them safe by investing in our soft and hard power and by working with our international partners.
- Europe will be a responsible global leader. The challenges we face today affect us all. We will continue working with our partners in the world to uphold and develop the rules-based international order, to make the most of new trading opportunities and to jointly tackle global issues such as preserving our environment and fighting climate change.
The decisions we take will follow the spirit and letter of these 10 commitments. The Union of today is stronger than that of yesterday and we want to continue to build its strength for tomorrow. This is our commitment for the future generations. This is the spirit of Sibiu and of a new Union at 27 ready to embrace its future as one.”