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Two-speed Europe highlights East-West divide

Mar 9, 2017 | News

(09 March 2017) – The consensus reached at Monday’s Versailles summit (6 March) on the need to construct a two-speed Europe risks reigniting tensions between the EU’s eastern and western member states.

Iron Curtain
© Marcin Szala

After struggling to overcome their differences on the migration crisis, the EU’s eastern and western members are once again split over the question of a possible multi-speed Europe, a scenario that is gaining traction on the continent as the bloc looks to define its post-Brexit identity.

While the idea of building the EU’s future around a “hard core” and a group of less integrated peripheral states has seduced France, Germany and Italy, the EU’s more recent members are eying this development with suspicion.

“The Versailles summit does not look so good if you come from one of the small member states,” said Hungarian MEP György Schöpflin at a debate organised by the Club Grande Europe in Paris on Tuesday (7 March). For this member of Hungary’s governing Fidesz party, if these countries “continue to push for a hard core in the EU they will end up distancing the Central and Eastern European member states”.

French President François Hollande called together the leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain in Versailles on Monday (6 March) to prepare for the EU summit in Brussels on 9-10 March. (EurActiv)

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