BRUSSELS, March 10 Belgium, the Netherlands and
Luxembourg, the so-called Benelux countries, invited Poland, the
Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia for talks in the
Netherlands on the future of the European Union, Dutch Prime
Minister Mark Rutte said.
EU leaders are to meet in Rome on March 25 to celebrate the
EU's 60th anniversary and chart a way forward for the bloc after
Britain decided last year to leave it and there is rising
euro-sceptic sentiment in many European countries.
Standing together with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Rutte told
reporters the three Benelux countries wanted to play a positive
role in shaping the future of the EU.
"We have decided to invite the members of the Visegrad
countries to come to the Netherlands to have a meeting jointly
with the Benelux and later this year we will also have a meeting
with the three Baltic countries, also to discuss the future of
the European Union," Rutte said.
The Visegrad countries are Poland, the Czech Republic,
Hungary and Slovakia.
The Benelux invitation follows a clash on Thursday between
Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and the other 27 leaders of
the EU over the re-appointment of Donald Tusk for another term
as chairman of EU summits, which Warsaw vehemently opposed.
"We are pulling together and are contacting the Visegrad
countries and the Baltic states to say we are stronger together
even if it is not that easy sometimes," Luxembourg's Bettel
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Robert-Jan Bartunek)