The G20 summit takes place in Hamburg this week and EU leaders met last week to agree their priorities. They put protectionism, terrorism and climate change at the top of their list.
The last point is a cause of serious concern following Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Climate Change Accord. Following the meeting, Merkel diplomatically said they would all work with Washington to find solutions. Others, such as Macron, where less diplomatic as he expressed the hope that the US would return to reason.EU Commission First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, has suggested that following Brexit, further integration of the EU states is a foregone conclusion. He suggests that France will act as a good counter balance to Germany, which he suggests has been seen as overly dominant. He appears to be suggesting that the two countries will now provide the leadership of the community.
He conceded that Brexit will harm both parties, but suggests that the process of separation should be done in a cooperative manner. According to the Budget Commissioner, the financial damage may be a hole in the EU budget of between €10 and €12bn. He says that there is a need to make cuts and shift expenditure. He was presenting a Reflection Paper on the future of EU’s Finances where his message was either find new revenues or spend less. It seems that the financial crisis is far from over. Last week the Italian government put up €5.2bn to bail out two banks, while also providing guarantees of close on €12bn. The Italian banks account for a third of all the Eurozone bad debt.
The action, which was approved by the Commission, has avoided the EU financing the bailout, at least for the present. Italy has flagged other problems, notably the growing influx of migrants in recent weeks. The disembarkation of those rescued in the Mediterranean at Italian ports has pushed their first response services to breaking point. That government seems now to be considering banning non EU rescue vessels from their ports. Most of the migrants do not remain in Italy, but move on to other EU member states. But the demands of providing adequate initial care is causing real problems. The EU, while recognising the problem struggles in providing an adequate solution.
The Commission has threatened member states which fail to play their part in the EU programme with economic sanctions; those threats have drawn little response. Right now, EU Commission action is required to alleviate this problem which the Italians are faced with. It is neither the time for talking, nor long game diplomacy.