Minister Juliane Bogner-Strauß, representing the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union opened the debate by saying that migration should be the main topic on the agenda during the meeting of EU heads of state or government on 18 October as it has been the focus of the past months.
On the controversial Reform of the Dublin system, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker repeatedly stressed that by the end of the year there will have to be an agreement on the reform between the European Parliament and the Council. He added, “we cannot wait any longer for this” implying that the perception of the success of the 2014-2019 mandate is mainly dependant on passing the notorious and deeply damaging package.
Even though it had been established earlier that the key themes dominating the summit are going to be migration, security and Brexit, in this order, during a debate the European Parliament’s political group leaders narrowed in on Brexit, as usual, peddling their own preconceived and false notions.
The chief eurocrat couldn’t help but share his unsolicited wisdom as he highlighted that the EU wants a deal and those who think a no-deal can be a viable outcome are not aware of the difficulties that it would incur.
Already backtracking, this contradicts his earlier warning of being ready for a no-deal scenario, combined with a creepy and inappropriate “Don`t worry, be happy” message back in Salzburg a couple weeks ago: “I would like this conclusion to be drawn in October because the time is right now for the agreement. No-deal is not my working assumption but would it happen, we are prepared, as the Commission has prepared in detail all the elements of consequences of a no-deal.”
The only thing more bizarre coming from him was when he likened the EU and UK to two loving hedgehogs. We have to be careful, like two loving hedgehogs, he said. “When two hedgehogs hug each other, you have to be careful that there will be no scratches.” I wonder if I am the only one in bracing myself for the next asinine idea coming from this supposedly sane human being.
The EU`s position on the future Irish border, put forward by Juncker himself, are supported by the parliament and he reiterated his position saying: “When it comes to the Irish border issue we are sticking to the view of `Ireland first` and that that there will be no Withdrawal Agreement without a solid, operational and legally binding Irish backstop.”
The prominent bunch proudly confirmed that the informal summit in Salzburg, often raised during the debate, was a display of European solidarity on Brexit. During the meeting, the EU leaders reconfirmed their full unity and agreement.
Council President Donald Tusk`s hostile closing remarks eradicated all remaining glimmers of hope that the negotiations could have a somewhat positive outcome: “The moment of truth for Brexit negotiations will be the October European Council. In October, we expect maximum progress and results in the Brexit talks. Then we will decide whether conditions are there to call an extraordinary summit in November to finalise and formalise the deal.”