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As European heads of state gathered today in Brussels, a Eurobarometer poll showed that the citizens of European nations want a Continental solution to the influx of refugees coming across its borders.

Convenient timing for the executive in Brussels, which knows its window of opportunity to craft a coherent policy is running short. As has been pointed out in this column before, even as euroskepticism rises across the Continent, citizens oddly express greater belief in the European project than they do trust in their own national governments. But both of those qualities are in short supply, and as Union leaders fatigue the calendar with summits, citizens are weighing it down with a series of referendums, each of which in its own way stands to weaken the foundations of European integration.

The message from the Eurobarometer poll is clear enough:

"On migration issues, an EU average of 66% of respondents said that decisions should be taken at EU level, rather than by national governments alone. The survey nonetheless found marked national differences, with those in favour of more EU decision-making making up between 79% and 81% of respondents from Cyprus, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg and The Netherlands, but only 40% in Estonia, Poland and the Slovak Republic.

"EU citizens were similarly divided on the issue of receiving asylum-seekers. An EU average of 78% of respondents said they should be shared among EU countries. Most in favour were the Germans, at 97%, and least in favour were the Slovaks and the Czechs with 31%. Of the 78% who favoured distributing asylum-seekers among EU countries, 75% also favoured doing so according to binding quotas decided by the EU."

If Germans are the most enthusiastic for a comprehensive European response, they are hardly thrilled by the leadership of their own head of state, Chancellor Angela Merkel, as a recent YouGov poll illustrates.

"The poll, released on Tuesday, showed that an ever-growing number of Germans are losing faith in the words repeatedly expressed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel: ‘We can manage this.'

"Only one in three participants of the poll (33 percent) now agree with the chancellor -- a decrease of 11 percent since approximately six weeks ago. Around 64 percent of Germans polled were found to disagree.

"The opinion was widely shared across all of Germany's main political groups -- the Social Democrats (SPD), the Left Party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) -- with 59 to 62 percent disagreeing with Merkel."

So what does a European solution look like? Well, it would start with European leaders setting aside their individual political fortunes for a second. As one German diplomat put it: "For the moment, I still see too many people running around like headless-chickens, too many national interests in play."

It might then continue with member states disbursing agreed-upon funds for EU programs aimed at the refugee crisis. As El Pais reports, this is not happening:

"Of the €500 million that member states were to contribute to an EU fund aimed at the Syrian crisis, only Germany, with €5 million, and Italy, with €3 million, have pledged money. A similar gap is seen in a recent trust fund created to tackle the causes of emigration in Africa. Germany, Spain and Luxembourg have each pledged €3 million, a modest amount if Brussels is to reach the €1.8 billion it needs to launch the fund.

If sorely lacking funding could be found, perhaps logistical steps could be formulated. For starters, the Union wants to establish a European Border and Coast Guard, with the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, scheduled to come forward with a proposal in December. France offered a bold interpretation of the powers the supranational institutions could thereby assume. Le Figaro:

"The ambition of [French President] Francois Hollande, if it became reality, would limit in specific cases the sovereignty of states over the external frontiers of the European Union -- a hitherto inviolable principle of European law. The difficulties Italy has faced, and above all the inability of Greece to manage the influx of migrants, have shown how [that principle] fails to respond to the situation. ‘Effective control of external borders is the only way to counter threats to Schengen and to free movement within the EU,' noted a high-ranking diplomat."

Along with the renegotiation of Britain's membership in the EU, the refugee crisis gives a tone of urgency and needed agency to this summit. Stay tuned.

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Around the Continent

Juncker said what? Not the most encouraging segue into those Brexit talks. Via Politico EU:

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set off a mini-firestorm Wednesday after he appeared to declare in remarks to the Parliament, "Personally, I don't think that Britain needs the European Union."

At least, many people heard him say "don't" -- which would have been quite a statement from a politician tasked with keeping Britain in the bloc.

Juncker's aides moved quickly to insist that he in fact said "do." But the remark had already been pounced on by British media and leading Euroskeptics like MEP Nigel Farage, head of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

Catalonia, Scotland, and now Corsica? At the New York Times, Robert Zaretsky has a great column on the many ways and places Europe could splinter.

"Ms. Le Pen's xenophobic tirades threaten the French republican ideal -- but so do native political movements. Along with independence or autonomist parties in Brittany and the Basque Country, there is also the flurry of electoral activity among the Corsicans. In the regional elections of 2010, Corsica's nationalist parties, once a marginalized and murderous fringe that now forswears violence, won 25 percent of the vote. (The National Front, on the other hand, scraped by with less than 5 percent.) The leader of one pro-independence party, Jean-Guy Talamoni, claimed at the annual party congress earlier this month that a majority of Corsicans, galvanized by the examples of Scotland and Catalonia, now desired independence."

German spies: Via EU Observer, the plot thickens:

"The German intelligence service has spied on European and American embassies in ways that may have been beyond its mandate, German media ARD and Spiegel Online reported on Wednesday (14 October).

The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) reportedly targeted French and US institutions and eavesdropped on them to acquire information about countries like Afghanistan."


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