Pre-summit Briefing 2018/8

13-14 December: Everything in order except Brexit

The preparations for this week’s meetings of heads of state and government have for the most part been orderly, unexciting and productive. As it is required to do under article 3 (1) of the European Council’s Rules of Procedure, the Presidency issued an ‘annotated draft agenda’ for the meeting of the European Council in its normal formation as long ago as 5 November, together with a roadmap indicating the dates on which national delegations could expect further documents.

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European Council Briefing Note 2018/4

June 28-29: Migration Policy, Security and Defence, Economic Policy, Brexit and the Future of the Euro 

There were three meetings rather than one: a meeting of the European Council in its normal formation on 28 June, which went on until almost 5.00 am on the following day, a Brexit breakfast at which Mrs May was not present and a Euro Summit.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/7

25 November: Brexit

There will be three meetings involving the EU’s heads of state and government on Sunday: an exchange of views with the president of the European Parliament, a meeting of the European Council in article 50 formation, and a session of the European Council in its normal formation, with Mrs May present.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/6

17-18 October: Brexit, Migration, Internal Security and the Euro

This time, Brexit really is the main story. There will be no formal negotiations, needless to say. Mrs May has been invited to explain her position. She will not however be present at the working dinner on 17 October, at which the heads of state and government will discuss Brexit.

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European Council Briefing Note 2018/5

September 19-20 in Salzburg: Migration Policy, Internal Security and Brexit

Brexit was always likely to be on the agenda at Salzburg. Those who were responsible for planning the meeting nevertheless maintained throughout the preparatory phase that other issues would have equal if not higher status.1 It is therefore important to analyse the debate about Brexit in context and with the intentions of those who planned the meeting in mind.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/5

19-20 September: Migration, Internal Security and Brexit

If the British media are to be believed, the informal European Council in Salzburg this week will be all about Brexit and if some representatives of the Austrian government are right, it will be run by the Austrian Presidency. Fortunately, neither claim is correct.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/4

28-29 June: Migration Policy, Security and Defence, Economic Policy, the Future of the Euro and Brexit

The heads of state or government will as so often nowadays meet in three formats. The first and longest session, on the afternoon and evening of 28 June, will be a meeting of the European Council as such, with Mrs May present. The second, on the morning of 29 June, will be a breakfast session of the European Council in article 50 formation, at which EU27 will review the current situation regarding Brexit. Later on the morning of 29 June, there will be a Euro Summit in ‘inclusive formation’, involving the 19 Euro Area leaders and all their non-Euro Area colleagues except the British prime minister. The European Council and the Euro Summit could, and almost certainly will be lively, but the Brexit breakfast is likely to be brief and may even be rather boring.

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European Council Briefing Note 2018/2

March: challenges of the digital era, EMU present and future, trade policy, Russia, Turkey, migration policy and Brexit

The March European Council did not go according to plan. The discussion about trade policy which was supposed to have been the principal feature of the first session did not take place until the following morning and even then only in truncated form and the debate about Russia during the working dinner was ‘wild’, as one of those who witnessed it said afterwards.

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European Strategy Forum June 2018

Migration Policy and Mediterranean Security 

Nobody who took part in the European Strategy Forum meeting in Dubrovnik on 7-9 June was under any illusions about the scale of the challenge confronting the EU and its member states. Driven by many, variegated forces, large numbers of migrants from outside Europe are likely to press for admission for decades to come, while inside the Union populists will doubtless continue to exploit the fears which migrant inflows provoke and frustrate the efforts of mainstream politicians to fashion a response which is humane as well as firm. The Italian interior minister’s refusal to allow the migrant-laden ship Aquarius to disembark its passengers at an Italian port occurred a day after our meeting finished. The difficulties which Matteo Salvini and his allies are likely to cause the EU were already in our thoughts however before what he boastfully described as his first major ‘victory’.

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European Council Briefing Note 2018/3

May 16-17 in Sofia: Innovation and Digital, Iran, Trade and the Western Balkans

The two Sofia meetings were very brief: the European Council went on for three and a quarter hours, while the Summit at which there were 39 set piece speeches, finished with a lunch which some leaders did not attend at all and others left before the end. Both meetings were nevertheless thoroughly worthwhile.

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