European Council Briefing Note 2019/7

October: Brexit, Enlargement, Turkey, the Strategic Agenda, the MFF and Climate Change

The October European Council was overshadowed but by no means dominated by Brexit. Overshadowed, because the new Withdrawal Agreement was not concluded until midday on the day on which the European Council met, and nobody could therefore be certain about what the heads of state and government would have to discuss, let alone the atmosphere in which the discussion would take place. Not dominated, because there was very little for the heads of state and government themselves to discuss or do about it and, still more importantly, because several other items on the agenda were very important.

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European Council Briefing Note 2019/6

 June Part 2: the top jobs

The present paper resumes our analysis of the process by which the European Council selected the new leaders of the European Union. It begins on 29 May, the day after the special meeting at which the heads of state and government assessed the implications of the European parliamentary elections, and finishes on 2 July, when they agreed on a package deal comprising the president and two executive vice presidents of the Commission, the president of the European Council, the EU’s foreign policy chief, the president of the ECB and the president of the Parliament.

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European Council Briefing Note 2019/5

June Part 1: the Strategic Agenda, the MFF, Climate Change, External Relations, the Euro and Brexit

The EU’s heads of state and government spent a lot of time together between 20 June and 2 July. Much of the time was however spent on meetings of the political and regional groups, mini-summits, some of them with Tusk and some of them without, a whole night of ‘confessionals’ with Tusk, starting at 23.45 on 30 June and finishing at after 7.00 on the following morning, and bilaterals involving all and sundry.

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European Council Briefing Note 2019/4

28 May: The top jobs

The informal meeting of heads of state or government on 28 May did not discuss the names of any potential candidates for the EU’s top jobs. The Presidency also went to considerable lengths to ensure that nobody outside the room knew what was happening while the leaders were meeting and was sparing with information about it afterwards. The working dinner was nevertheless a significant moment in the appointments process, which provided important clues to its future direction. Seven points are worth highlighting.

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European Council Briefing Note 2019/3

Sibiu: The European Council positions itself in advance of the European parliamentary elections

The Sibiu meeting on 9 May received relatively little attention from the media. There were useful reports in a few quality newspapers, including the FAZ, Le Figaro and the FT. Even they were short and low key, however. Elsewhere it was mentioned only a little if at all.

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European Council Briefing Note 2018/6/7/8

October, November and December: Brexit centre stage at last

The present note is a narrative in the proper sense of the term: an attempt to give meaning to a process by describing and analysing step by step what actually happened. Based on a significant number of unpublished documents as well as interviews, it is a complex but fascinating story, which is best read in its entirety. Readers who are short of time can however begin here with a highly compressed version of the final section of the paper.

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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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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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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 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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