Thursday, March 2, 2017

Germany's FM expresses reservations against "multi-speed" Europe

The European Union should not become a bloc oriented merely at a single market and it should not develop at different speeds, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's minister of foreign affairs, said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart Linas Linkevicius, the German minister said "Differences in the EU should not become so significant that some countries would find themselves among leaders and others lagging behind; it should not happen so that larger countries band together while leaving smaller ones aside."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier on Wednesday presented the EU's post-Brexit plans to members of the European Parliament. The idea of a "multiple speed" Europe was among Juncker's proposals.

Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevicius noted that different speeds of integration already exists in the EU as not all member states belong to the Schengen bloc or euro zone. However, scenarios for the EU's future should be inclusive rather than causing fragmentation, he stressed.

"The only thing which makes us important players in the world is our unity. Therefore, we must try to maintain this unity as much as possible," said Linkevicius.

Juncker presented a white paper on the future of Europe, setting out five scenarios, each offering a different view in terms of the potential state of the EU by 2025.

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