This week, the latest EU summit – which is another name given to the meeting up of all EU heads of state at the European Council – will take place in Brussels for two days, until Friday the 20th October. This summit takes place amid a difficult setting for the European Union, which faces critics about its handling of the Catalonian crisis and is still negotiating the exit of the UK from the Union. Nonetheless, it seems that hope remains among European leaders for a brighter future for Europe, as Donald Tusk, the President of the Council, decided to give Emmanuel Macron’s ideas a chance to bring the remaining EU member states closer together.
The 39-year-old French President whose ideas include several provisions, going from a tighter military cooperation to tougher anti-dumping rules, will therefore be at the centre of this summit. However, as some political turmoil occurred in France these past weeks over Macron’s reforms on the French labour code, several EU officials did not hide their concerns on his capacity to successfully take care of his European duties. This summit thus appears to be a challenge for the French President, but also for the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who has never shied away from supporting Macron and his views on the EU.
In addition, before the summit, the French President stressed his wish to discuss again the trade talks which involved the EU with the US and the EU and Canada – respectively the TAFTA and CETA deals – as well as the future negotiations Brussels wants to achieve with Mercosur countries. Indeed, Emmanuel Macron would like to make his case and show his concerns that these free trade agreements could harm European citizens in terms of job losses, environmental regulations and heath. Thereby, there should be very lively debates around the European Council’s negotiation table during this two-days EU summit.
Even though Donald Tusk specifically chose to give Mr. Macron a pivotal role during these talks, the most pressing issues the EU is currently facing should not be forgotten by EU head of states and governments. In fact, the Brexit negotiations have never felt closer to failing, as EU Brexit head negotiator Michel Barnier stated last week that there had been no great steps forward achieved in the talks with the UK. Finally, the Catalonian independence referendum should also be at the centre of the EU summit, as the Spanish government just triggered article 155 of its constitution, which would allow it to take control back on the autonomous province. The conclusions of the summit should be given out sometime next week, and should help clear the EU positioning on a lot of these urgent issues.
For further information:
Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-brexit-negotiator-michel-barnier-says-no-great-steps-forward-in-talks-with-uk/2017/10/12/e70c5e8c-af38-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html?utm_term=.1bdee837653b