Foreign ministers from the French-German-Polish ‘Weimar Triangle’ will meet outside Paris on Monday for a ‘working meeting’, with the threat of a potential Trump re-election in November and military leaders warning of Russia’s threat to NATO looming in the background.
French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné invited his German and Polish counterparts, Annalena Baerbock and Radosław Sikorski, to discuss peace and security, EU sovereignty and solidarity matters in Saint-Cloud on Monday afternoon.
In the current unstable international context, it was high time the ‘Weimar Triangle’ group would give EU solidarity a second wind, just months ahead of the June EU elections, French foreign affairs officials told reporters on Friday (9 February).
The ‘Weimar Triangle’ is an informal regional coalition bringing France, Germany and Poland together. First created in 1991, it held regular meetings, though its political gravitas had waned ever since the Eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party took office in 2016, and subsequent meetings failed to bring about a serious revival of the format.
However, the new pro-EU Tusk government that took over the reins in December may give this coalition “new momentum”, French diplomats said.
“Relaunching this exchange format is good news,” French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told reporters last week in Berlin. “It marks the return of Poland to the centre of EU affairs”.
“We want to work on this together with France in the Weimar Triangle. Now with even more strength and vigour,” Baerbock also said in Berlin last week, while Poland’s Sikorski confirmed the coalition ought to come back to the fore after “having been forgotten in recent years”.
Séjourné had dedicated his first-ever official visit to Ukraine, Germany and Poland – to make this regional coalition at the heart of future EU decision-making.
The return of Trump?
Monday’s talks should first and foremost include ways to increase collective military support to Ukraine, including through a reform of the European Peace Facility (EPF), the EU’s off-budget funding mechanism used to reimburse member states for their weapons supplies to Ukraine.
According to French foreign affairs officials, this should support further joint weapons and ammunition acquisitions from EU companies as the EU struggles to meet its one million ammunition target for Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the possibility of a new round of joint EU debt to support Ukraine’s defence could be part of the discussions after the option had been called for by several EU leaders, including Macron, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and European Council President Charles Michel,
European sovereignty will also be among the key agenda items – especially as Trump’s potential victory in the US presidential elections in November could negatively impact future Ukraine aid and NATO’s stability, giving the EU extra impetus to consolidate its policies.
The talks will also come after, on Saturday (10 February), Trump reiterated he would not intervene if Russia attacked NATO members. “In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” he said, on the grounds that they, according to him, pay too little for their defence.
“We must prepare for all scenarios,” Séjourné told French daily Ouest-France on Sunday.
“We can always convince [a Trump-led, Republican government]. And we’ll be all the more convincing if we stand on an equal footing, so we’re respected. We must be military more powerful”.
Meanwhile, top European military officials have increasingly warned they believe Russia could try to undermine NATO in the coming decade.
Other issues on the agenda include peace in the Middle East and EU-Africa relations.
Nick Alipour contributed to the reporting.
(Théo Bourgery-Gonse | Euractiv.fr – Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski | Euractiv.com )
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