E.U. Leaders to Back Multi-Speed Europe at Summit

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The E.U. national leaders, at an upcoming summit on Saturday, are set to officially endorse the principle that E.U. member states can pursue political and economic integration at different speeds, according to a draft declaration obtained in advance by Handelsblatt.

“We will act together at different paces and intensivity where necessary while moving in the same direction as we have done in the past in line with the treaties and keeping the door open to those who want to join later,” the draft declaration for the summit, which will mark 60 years since the Treaty of Rome that first created the economic bloc, says.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, divisions within the euro zone and differences over how to handle the refugee crisis have raised questions among member states about whether they should accelerate or put the brakes on political and economic integration.

France and Germany have expressed interest in deepening integration. While Eastern European member states, particularly Poland, are more skeptical of deeper ties, they have also expressed fears about being left behind if the bloc formally adopts a multiple-speed approach. The leaders committed to still “moving in the same direction” specifically to address those concerns.

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