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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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/3

16-17 May in Sofia: Innovation, the Western Balkans, Iran, the US and Gaza

There will obviously be considerable interest in what the heads of state and government have to say in Sofia about the EU’s response to president Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran, EU-US trade relations and the killings in Gaza. The main business of the heads of state and government on 16 and 17 May will still however be Innovation and Digital Policy and the future of the EU’s relations with the Western Balkans.

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Brexit Briefing 2018/2

The main conclusions of the Briefing of 13 April

The seminar discussed both the politics and the economics of Brexit. There were two sessions on the politics, the first of which was focused on the March agreement and its implications and the second on longer term perspectives including the possibility of an Association Agreement rather than a Free Trade Agreement. The session on the economic environment meanwhile reviewed the current situation and future prospects including in particular the risks of a downturn.

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European Council Briefing Note 2018/1

February: Institutional Issues, the MFF, Martin Selmayr 

The meeting on 23 February was an informal meeting of the leaders of EU27. The issues with which it was mainly concerned were large and important, but it was an open-ended discussion in which everybody could have their say and most did and at the end of which no Conclusions were published.

The meeting was nevertheless interesting, important and revealing. Interesting because of what was said. Important because of the direction which it set and the tone in which it did so. Revealing because of the light which it cast on the politics and morale of the EU without Britain.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/2

22-23 March: Trade Policy, Taxation, Turkey, Russia, Brexit and EMU

There will once again be three meetings rather than one this week. The first, on 22 March, will be of the European Council in its normal formation, with Mrs May present throughout. The second, on the morning of 23 March will be of the European Council in its article 50 formation without Mrs May. And the third, later on the same morning, will be a Euro Summit involving Euro Area governments only.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2018/1

23 February: Institutions and Money 

The European Council meeting on 23 February is informal and is likely to be relatively short. After a brief exchange of views at noon with Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, who might well emerge from the forthcoming Italian elections as the next prime minister and therefore as a member of the European Council in his own right, the European Council proper will begin with a working lunch. One can never be certain how long either the lunch or the second working session directly afterwards will last, but the Presidency expects, or at least hopes, that the meeting will finish by 18.30.

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