Sunday

11th Apr 2021

May to soothe EU leaders' post-election Brexit worries

EU leaders will gather on Thursday and Friday (22-23 June) in Brussels for a two-day summit on the week Brexit negotiations kicked off.

The 27 leaders will hear from UK prime minster Theresa May, upon her request, on her struggles to form a government after a bruising election two weeks ago and how it will influence Brexit.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

May is also expected to outline some principles of the UK's paper on citizens rights which will be published early next week.

However, after May is finished with her talk during Thursday’s dinner, leaders are not expected to quiz the British PM.

“We do not encourage our leaders to engage in a discussion following her presentation: May is aware of it, it is not in her interest to engage in a discussion either,” said a senior EU diplomat

He added that Monday’s Brexit talks created a "very positive atmosphere" between London and Brussels.

“We don’t have the ambition to sort out all the problems until the end of the week, but we want to build trust that would allow to the negotiations to go smoothly,” said another senior EU official.

Brexit talks kicked off on Monday, and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief EU leaders after May has left the room on Thursday night.

EU leaders will also discuss the criteria for relocating the two EU agencies currently based in London, but a decision on the move will only be made in October.

China screening

French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to push for curbing foreign takeovers in strategic industries by scrutinising investments at the EU summit on Friday.

Concern is rife among some EU members, including Germany, that China is aiming to take over companies in Europe that have advanced technology in strategic sectors.

State-owned ChemChina recently bought Swiss farm company Syngenta, deepening those concerns.

On Friday, leaders will discuss the concept of screening investments at EU level, but decisions on investments lie with the EU member states.

“This is about China. But we as EU should be careful not to send protectionist signals, a compromise formulation will emerge on this,” one EU official said.

European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will brief leaders on the meeting with US president Donald Trump, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two EU institution leaders will also talk with the heads of EU countries about the EU-China summit and have a wider discussion on the EU’s role in the world.

A discussion on Turkey might emerge among leaders, as Austria pushes for EU accession talks to officially freeze over Erdogan’s crackdown on his opponents.

But EU leaders are keenly aware that Turkey is a crucial partner as a Nato ally and for halting the flow of migrants on the Western Balkan route.

“Everybody is aware of what is at stake, I expect some cynical pragmatism to prevail,” said an EU official.

The elephant in the room

Migration will be on the table on Friday, where leaders are expected to give new political guidance on reforming the bloc’s asylum system.

Last December, the EU leaders set a June deadline for agreeing on reforming the so-called Dublin system, but major fault lines persist with regard to the quotas set to relocate asylum seekers from frontline states.

Some countries - such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic - said they would refuse to take in migrants.

“The elephant in the room is the responsibility and solidarity and how that translates into legislation,” said one diplomat.

Leaders will try to build momentum on issues where there is more agreement on external aspects, such as tackling migration on the central Mediterranean route and beefing up help for patrolling Libya’s southern border.

They will also discuss an EU-wide safe third country concept.

Sanctions

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to recommend another six-month rollover of tough economic sanctions imposed in 2014 against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The French and German leaders will brief fellow leaders on the Minsk ceasefire process, which has seen continued clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels.

Security

In the wake of the terror attacks in Europe, security will feature high on the EU leaders’ agenda on Thursday.

This time they want to encourage the internet industry to develop new technology and tools to combat online terrorism and radicalisation.

Leaders will also want a new mechanism to better track the movement of people moving in and out of the Schengen zone to be finalised and operational.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

UK agrees to EU conditions on Brexit talks

In their first meeting, the EU's Michel Barnier and Brexit minister David Davis agreed that talks on future relations will start only when "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce proceedings.

UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'

British academics want to guarantee residency and work rights for their EU staff, as well as "enhanced mobility opportunities" for UK and EU students, mostly by keeping British participation in EU funding programs.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us