EU leaders throw down the gauntlet to eurosceptics: ‘EU vital for sovereignty’

'Claims that liberal democracy heralded the end of history were mildly exaggerated', EU Council President Donald Tusk warns

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
30 March 2017, 2:18pm
Donald Tusk said that a strong EU is the only guarantee for national sovereignty'
Donald Tusk said that a strong EU is the only guarantee for national sovereignty'
The presidents of the European Council and European Commission appeared to roll up their sleeves for an intensified challenge with eurosceptics for the hearts and minds of EU citizens.

Addressing a congress of European People’s Party leaders in Malta, EU Council president Donald Tusk said that the EU must deliver a strong message that the prevalence of the EU is crucial for ongoing national sovereignty of its member states.

“Our mission should be to send a message to our citizens that a strong EU is the only guarantee of security and national sovereignty,” he said. “Today’s world has swept away any illusions that everyone in the world wants to emulate European standards and Russian aggression, Brexit and events in Turkey show that proclamations that liberal democracy heralded the end of history were mildly exaggerated to say the least.”

Tusk urged pro-EU leaders to reclaim words such as ‘sovereignty’, ‘security’, ‘dignity’ and ‘pride’ from eurosceptics and deliver a strong message that there is no contradiction between liberal democracy and order and security.

“Only free and law-abiding societies can truly be safe. There is no contradiction between an integrated Europe and the independent of our nations; indeed, the more united Europe is the more capable it is of protecting national and sovereign interests.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker urged the EU to consider Brexit as a “new beginning” for Europe, and called on national parliaments and civil society to engage more with his commission.

“Instead of complaining that the European Commission dictates and calls the shots, national parliaments and civil society should express to us what they really want,” he said.

He urged EU leaders to “get off the couch” and start engaging with their critics, although he drew a line between “people with justified concerns” and “radical populists”.

He also criticised Donald Trump for encouraging other EU countries to follow the UK’s lead and exit the EU, jokingly threatening to call for the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas from the USA if the US President repeats his statement.

Angela Merkel said that the EU must beef up security at its external borders
Angela Merkel said that the EU must beef up security at its external borders
German chancellor Angela Merkel urged fellow EU countries not to let current challenges convince them to abandon their values of freedom, fairness and solidarity which she said are embodied through schemes like the Schengen Zone.

While she defended her principle that the EU must keep welcoming refugees, she called for enhanced security through a joint police operation at the EU’s external borders so as to prevent a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis.

“Although our values shouldn’t stop at our external borders, we cannot pretend that we don’t have any borders.”
She also called for the EU to step up its fight against “Islamic terrorism” and get cracking on forming a digital single market, which she said will help convince people that the EU is about prosperity.