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Leaders in crisis summit to refocus EU vision in aftermath of referendum

By Raf Casert, PA

Published 17/09/2016

Defiant: Angela Merkel
Defiant: Angela Merkel

European Union leaders are anxiously seeking to forge a sense of common purpose at a meeting in Slovakia in the face of the planned departure of the UK and fundamental disagreements over issues ranging from migration to the economy.

The 27 leaders, who are meeting without Prime Minister Theresa May, hope that their day of talks in the Slovak capital will provide the outline of a new “Bratislava roadmap” that should lead to a new-look EU by next spring.

The EU was rocked after a UK referendum on the issue in June ended with a Leave vote.

Top of the agenda at the meeting is heightening security, improving defence cooperation, securing external borders to deal with chaotic immigration and introducing measures to get the huge number of unemployed people in Europe back to work.

Added urgency comes from the fact that countries like France and Germany hold elections next year, during which far-right and populist parities will seek to exploit the uncertainty generated by Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

“We are in a critical situation,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said. “I hope that Bratislava stands for the fact that we want to work together and we want the problems that there are in Europe to be solved.”

French president Francois Hollande said the “Bratislava roadmap” consisted of three simple themes to help restore the confidence of citizens in the European project.

“Protection, which is to say security; the preparation of the future, which means being able to be a great power on the global scale in terms of the economy and creating employment; and lastly to give hope to youth,” he explained.

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