EU founding members are pushing for a 'different speed' EU
Italy, one of the EU’s founding members, is currently trying to woo France and Germany into backing plans for a “two-speed” EU in the face of a growing eurosceptic movement.
The post-Brexit plans would allow countries to further integrate and cooperate on tax and security and finance, while a peripheral group will continue in the bloc with looser ties.
However, the move is likely to ruffle the feathers of Central European alliance, the Visegrad Group, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, which formed to tackle the escalating migrant crisis.
Sandro Gozi, Italy’s Europe minister
We certainly learned from the history of the last years, that there will be as well a European Union with different speeds
Poland has already expressed its criticism of the “two-speed” plan, with PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski saying it would lead to the “breakdown of the Union”.
He said: “Only relations between states based on equality and the right to self-govern will ensure the future of the European Union.”
But Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, a group of the EU's founding members, have already expressed their support.
And speaking recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted EU leaders may commit to a Union of “different speeds” when they make a major declaration on its future during a Rome summit next month.
She said: "We certainly learned from the history of the last years, that there will be as well a European Union with different speeds, that not all will participate every time in all steps of integration. “I think this may be in the Rome declaration as well.”
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Her remarks were welcomed by Italian officials who said it would be “easier” to push ahead with reforms following Britain’s decision to leave the crumbling bloc.
Sandro Gozi, Italy’s Europe minister, said: “We want to have a core shared by everyone and then there will be specific policies in which certain countries can move ahead, without other countries imposing a veto.
“In a union of 27 countries it is utopian that everyone can move forward with the same timing and objectives.
A group can act as political vanguard and proceed in a more expeditious way to reach new common objectives, such as defence, economic security, combating inequalities and support to the young people.”
Angela Merkel is pushing for a two-speed EU
He addd: “With the UK outside the EU it will probably be easier to move ahead with greater cooperation in this field. “It will be a win-win situation.”
The union of "different speeds" has long been riven by debate about whether all countries must commit to full integration including the single currency, or whether some can go at different paces.
PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the two-speed plan will lead to the break up of the EU
However, it is now on the agenda as the EU faces a string of challenges this year including Brexit , the election of Donald Trump and several high-stakes national elections where populist parties with anti-EU agendas could make inroads.
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