The Benelux countries – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – invited Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia for talks in the Netherlands on the future of the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at press conference after the Informal Summit of the EU in Brussels.
The Dutch meeting between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ states will take place ahead of the historical meeting in Rome on March 25 to celebrate the EU’s 60th anniversary and discuss a new concept of the EU. A few scenarios have been proposed in White paper presented by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, with the winning at the moment ‘multi-speed’ Europe, proposing different levels and intensity of integration processes among the member-states. An issue Juncker claimed was on the agenda since the times he “entered the European politics”.
The trio of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Rutte told reporters they initiated the meeting of the Benelux countries to engage in a action to play a positive role in shaping the future of the EU.
“We have decided to invite the members of the Visegrad (V4) countries to come to the Netherlands to have a meeting jointly with the Benelux and later this year we will also have a meeting with the three Baltic countries, also to discuss the future of the European Union,” Rutte said, commenting of the invitation of the V4: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
The Benelux invitation follows a standing conflict between Polish government and the other 27 leaders of the EU over the re-appointment of incumbent Donald Tusk for the second term as the EU Council president, which Warsaw opposed, motivating by Tusk failure to keep impartiality, actively supporting the opposition, using his high status.
As a result of the opposition the official Summit conclusions were not signed by Polish Prime Minister Beata Shidlo in an asymmetrical answer to the neglect to Polish concerns. The snubbing that might cost a lot to the EU projet, already suffering from the rise of eurosceptic parties, blaming the EU to abandoning the citizens for all kind of “other” interests.