French and German leaders stress need to address EU ‘weaknesses’ after Brexit

September 15, 2016 8:15 pm

French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a working meeting at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on September 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

and , the ’s two heavyweights, have agreed on the need to draw up new plans to address the bloc’s “weaknesses” at an upcoming summit in Slovakia.
is at a decisive moment and member states need to formulate a realistic agenda that would take account of the worries, hopes and aspirations of European citizens,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Thursday.
The two European leaders met in Paris on Thursday to coordinate a joint strategy for an EU without Britain ahead of the Friday summit of the bloc in Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava.
Britain, which parted ways with the EU as a result of a June referendum, is not invited to the Bratislava summit.
For his part, Hollande emphasized that the changes brought about by Britain’s upcoming exit from the EU have created the need to draw up new plans for the bloc’s future.
EU members need “to establish a calendar and road map for the bloc after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union,” he said.
Hollande stressed that the EU leaders need to put aside their differences and “find a common voice.”
The French leader also stressed the need to bolster the bloc’s military capability, saying the EU needs “new defense capabilities and forces that can be deployed outside Europe.”
Among issues raised in the meeting between the two leaders was also the need to safeguard EU borders and take necessary measures for the bloc’s current refugee crisis, according to Hollande.  
On Wednesday, the European Commission president described UK’s future exit from the EU as “wrong” and asked the EU nations to overcome their divisions following the June vote.

European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his State of the Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, September 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

“The European Union still does not have enough union. There are splits out there and often fragmentation where we need further union that is leaving space for galloping populism,” Juncker told the European Parliament in his annual State of the Union speech in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday.
“Europeans are tired of the endless disputes, quarrels and bickering,” he said. “Europeans want concrete solutions.”
Junker, however, stressed that the EU would not be at risk following the UK departure.
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