France and Germany lay out blueprint for post-Brexit EU reforms

The European Union's two biggest states, France and Germany, have proposed extensive European Union reforms on three key areas - security, migration and the economy - to bolster the bloc as Britain departs from it.

In a nine-page paper published online on Monday, the foreign ministers of Paris and Berlin said reforms should be made even if not all remaining EU nations sign up to them, opening the way to what is normally referred to as 'two-speed' or 'multi-speed' Europe.

"We need to recognise that member states differ in their levels of ambition ... when it comes to the project of European integration," France's Jean-Marc Ayrault and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote.

On security, Franco-German proposals include the strengthening of permanent EU military structures, with "a permanent civil-military chain of command" ready to deploy rapid response combat troops, as well as "standing maritime forces."

The EU should also set up a "platform" to share anti-terrorism intelligence, establish an EU civil protection corps, and, in the long-term, harmonize criminal laws on terrorism and organized crime across the bloc, Berlin and Paris suggested.

On migration, common rules on asylum, refugees and migration were proposed, based on the principle that "our citizens expect that we firmly regain control on our external borders while preserving our European values."

That means beefing up EU agencies on border management and asylum, setting up a "permanent and binding" burden sharing system to redistribute incoming asylum seekers, and adopting a US-style online screening system for people who can enter the EU without a visa.

The Franco-German paper also called for more aid for migrants' countries of origin, EU funds to deport illegal migrants, and a European Immigration Act to spell out legal entry options for economic migrants.

Economic reform proposals focused on the eurozone.

Paris and Berlin set a 2018 deadline to create a common fund that would "support investment in the member states most severely hit by the crisis." This would be a major policy shift for Germany, which has been traditionally loath to subsidize poorer euro area nations.

The two capitals backed greater democratic control, saying that a new body comprising both national and European Parliament lawmakers should be able to exercise "full" oversight over decisions taken by eurozone finance ministers.

They also said there should be greater efforts to harmonize tax rates and welfare standards, and proposed adopting common targets on energy, research and the IT sector as a way of fostering greater convergence between the 19 economies of the currency union.

Last update: Mon, 27/06/2016 - 18:16

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