On the 16th of September, the leaders of the “EU 27” met in Bratislava to reinvigorate the European Union following Britain’s decision to leave European Union back in June. The European heads of state or government have agreed on the Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap, which set out the objectives for the coming months. This was the first time in 43 years that Britain, the third-largest EU member state, was not present.
Bratislava was the perfect choice for this informal meeting since the country is currently holding the rotating presidency of the EU. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council said: “Let me thank Prime Minister Fico for inviting us to Bratislava. My words of gratitude also go to the Slovak people for their hospitality and patience. I know that it is not always easy, especially with all the security measures in place, but you did a great job.”
In scope of the meeting, the European leaders got a chance to experience a little of Bratislava as well. ‘The floating ceremonial and congress hall on the Danube’, a luxury ship also known as MS Regina Danubia was the venue where the EU guests were served lunch. During lunch, the ship took them to the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum. We can’t forget about the Incheba Expo Bratislava that has experience with organising high-level political events and has for this event hosted the press centre for more than 1 300 journalists from more than 70 countries.
Some of the burning questions that were raised after the Brexit were answered by the EU leaders at Bratislava Castle, a Slovak Jewell that sits prominently above the capital city. The European heads of state or government decided to never allow for the return of uncontrolled refugee flows of last year and to ensure full control of the external border to get back to Schengen. They have agreed to do everything necessary to support Member States in ensuring internal security and fighting terrorism. They will strengthen EU cooperation on external security and defence. They have promised to create a promising economic future for all, by strengthening the single market and increasing investments, and finally they will safeguard the way of life and provide better opportunities for the young Europeans. Mr Tusk concluded: “I hope that the Bratislava summit will lead to the renewing of trust and confidence in the European Union.”
The Bratislava Roadmap will guide EU action over the next months. The 27 leaders want to meet again in Malta in January 2017 and conclude the reflection process at the Rome meeting in March 2017.