The heads of state, prime ministers and top European leaders gathered in Sibiu for the EU informal Summit today are expected to take major decisions, to agree on the path that the European Union is taking for the upcoming five years.
The main topic of discussions of the informal meeting of the European Council in Sibiu will thus be the future of the EU during 2019-2024, the current challenges ahead the EU and the priorities of action on the European level. The EU27 leaders are expected to adopt a Statement on the future of the European Union.
At the same time, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced he would propose the European Council in Sibiu a reform of the European Union by amending the Lisbon Treaty. The leader in Vienna is pleading for the introduction of stricter European rulers, including to protect the rule of law. In a recent interview to Handelsblatt, Sebastian Kurz has also voiced his concern regarding the noncompliance with the rules on the Eurozone budget deficit.
Initially, the Sibiu Summit was scheduled to take place after the Brexit; even if Brexit has been delayed, the question for the EU still stands: what will happen to the Union after UK’s withdrawal, how the political, social and economic European alliance will function after UK leaves the EU? The priorities agreed today for the next five years will be concluded though in June, after the EP elections.
The talks of the EU leaders started at 12:30hr at the City Hall in Sibiu. President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, the European Council head Donald Tusk and president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, as well as French president Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the first sessions of debates, alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, the host of the summit.
The group photo has been taken in Piata Mare in Sibiu at 13:15hr, after the first working session. The EU leaders will take part in a working lunch at Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu at 13:30, and after that the EU leaders will begin the second session of debates as of 15:30hr.
After the family photo the leaders of the EU member states went to the crowd, as people gathered in the square downtown Sibiu started to chant “Europe”, “United Europe”, “Don’t give up, resist” and to applause. People also chanted President Klaus Iohannis’ name. Iohannis said that the spontaneous mob has been the most touching moment of the summit.
A press conference is scheduled at 18:00hr, hosted by Klaus Iohannis, Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker.
Iohannis on Schengen accession: “Probably not today, but…’ Dutch PM’s stance
President Iohannis has stated in Piata Mare in Sibiu before the Summit kicked off that “the future of the European Union will be decided from Romania’s center”, while adding that “probably not today, but soon” Romania will join Schengen, and the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism will be lifted.
The Romanian head of state said he would talk about Schengen with the European leaders attending the summit, considering several member states have voiced concerns over the rule of law in Romania.
“We have worked very hard and I approached this issue many times, I will discuss it today as well. But we have politicians who, unfortunately, have shown Europe that they are attacking judiciary, the European institutions and for this reason, instead of being fully accepted, discussions about the rule of law have come up. Romanians want to remain Europeans and I promise that, probably not today, by soon, we’ll be in Schengen and we’ll get rid of the CVM“, stated Iohannis.
On the other hand, one of the European leaders who opposed Romania’s joining Schengen, Dutch PM Mark Rutte, has said in Sibiu today that Romania is still taking steps backward on observing the rule of law and democracy and that our country is not ready yet for accession.
Asked by the journalists when will be Romania ready for Schengen, Rutte replied: “When you comply with all rules: the rule of law, democracy. You are not going on the right direction at this moment”.
The final statement of the Sibiu Summit has been drafted by the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, with the help of the European Commission and European Council presidents. It contains 10 points, 10 pledges to the European citizens. The EU leaders are committing to ensure a common defence and to protect „the European lifestyle, democracy and rule of law”.
Romanian President Iohannis has previously stated that he would like the Summit on May 9 “to provide a very optimistic statement on the eve of the EP elections”, hoping to name it “the Sibiu Statement”.
On Wednesday during a debate organised by the EC, Iohannis also said that the summit on May 9 will remain as a remarkable moment of unity and commitment to Europe and that the summit will have to provide “a clear vision on a common future and an ambitious agenda to be adopted by the European Council in June”.
EPP, PES meetings
Before the summit a meeting of the European People’s Party leaders is in place, with President Iohannis delivering a speech, next to Manfred Weber, the EPP candidate for the position of president of the future European Commission. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are attending, with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban missing.
There is also an informal meeting of the European Socialists taking place in Sibiu, attended by Frans Timmermans, the Socialists’ candidate for the EC president. Local media reported that no Romanian Social Democrat leader has been invited to this meeting.
Enhanced security measures
Tight security measures have been enforced for the Summit in Sibiu, with all the security and intelligence state institutions deploying forces, from the Defence Ministry to the Special Telecommunications Service.
Traffic is forbidden in certain areas of the city, both for cars and for pedestrians. The sewer grates have been sealed, and access gates of certain tourist attractions have been closed. Dust bins in the city have been also covered in plastic and sealed to prevent potential hidden explosive devices.