Pre-summit Briefing 2017/4

22-23 June: Implementing the Bratislava Road Map

The June European Council, which will begin in the middle of Thursday afternoon and is not expected to finish much before lunch on Friday, has an unusually heavy agenda. Most of this note will be devoted to an issue by issue analysis. Before counting the trees, however, it is important to take a look at the wood.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2017/3

29 April: Dealing with Britain

The meeting on 29 April of the European Council in its article 50 formation will be a pure formality in one important respect at least. The guidelines for the negotiations with the UK which the European Council will adopt are already a done deal and the heads of state and government will therefore approve rather than debate them. The meeting is nevertheless far from insignificant for at least three reasons.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2017/2

March: A presidential election, economic and social policy, migration, security and defence, the Western Balkans, enhanced cooperation and the future of the EU 

As the title of this note indicates, the heads of state and government are expected to cover a lot of ground at the European Council’s Spring meeting on 9 March and at the EU27 summit on the following morning. Neither meeting is however likely to be long or difficult. This is not because the topics themselves are unimportant. It is much more because, contrary to the impression which is conveyed almost daily in the media, the EU machine is currently working its way rather efficiently through a heavy, policy agenda and there is little or nothing on the latter which requires immediate decisions by the heads of state and government.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2017/1

3 February: Migration, the Future of the EU and Global Politics

The idea of holding an informal meeting of heads of state and government in Malta first emerged during the EU27 summit in Bratislava last September.  The Bratislava meeting itself was the first since 29 June when, following the Brexit vote in the UK, EU27’s leaders initiated a process of ‘political reflection’ aimed at giving ‘an impulse to further reforms, in line with our Strategic Agenda, and to the development of the EU with 27 member states’.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2016/7

15 December: Migration, Security and Brexit

Barring unforeseen accidents, the December European Council will begin and end in one day. Under the new regime which was approved in October, the heads of state and government will hold their informal exchange of views with the president of the European Parliament at 12.30 rather than in the late afternoon. This will be followed by a working lunch, at which, after an ‘implementation report’ by Robert Fico, the Slovak prime minister, whose government currently holds the rotating, six month Presidency, a number of highly sensitive issues will be discussed.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2016/6

20-21 October 2016: Beyond Bratislava

The European Council meets every year in October and these meetings are planned well in advance. The agenda for this week’s meeting has therefore been known for some time. As the first ‘normal’ meeting of the European Council since the Bratislava summit of 16 September, preparations for it have nonetheless been influenced by both the tone and the contents of the Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2016/5

16 September 2016: EU27 and the future of the Union

The  Bratislava  meeting  will  be  a  one  day  affair,  beginning  at  10.00  am  and  finishing-  if  all  goes according  to  plan-  at  18.30.  The  heads  of  state  or  government  will  spend  most  of  the  time  in  the castle,  which  overlooks  both  the  city  and  the  river.  Their  working  lunch  will  however  be  on  board  a boat on the Danube.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2016/4

28-29 June 2016: Fog over the Channel, Continent cut off


Donald Tusk’s letter of invitation was circulated on 24 June, four days before the European Council was due to meet. The agenda is therefore in the public domain. Most of the meeting will be devoted to the outcome of the UK referendum and its political consequences. Which is scarcely surprising.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2016/3

17-18 March 2016: Refugees, Turkey and the European Economy 

There will once again be two summits rather than one. The first, the Spring Council, will begin in the late afternoon of 17 March and, barring unforeseen accidents, should be over before midnight on the same day. The second, a meeting between the European Council and the Turkish prime minister, is scheduled to start at 10.00 am on Friday morning and finish before lunch.

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Pre-summit Briefing 2016/2

 7 March 2016: a European consensus on migration policy at last?

Monday’s twin summits, the first over lunch with the Turkish prime minister, and the second, the European Council alone, will make a welcome change from the Brexit dominated menu in February. Once again, the European Council can get down to serious business, while the UK’s ‘great debate’ rumbles on in a closed circuit system, which we can peer into if we have the stomach to do so, but which we can equally well switch out of if we do not.

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