1st Dec 2021

Van Rompuy keen to shift some EU summits out of Brussels

  • EU President Herman Van Rompuy (r) in talks with Chancellor Werner Faymann on his first official visit to Austria (Photo: BKA/Bernhard J. Holzner)

Just four months after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, centralising EU policy-making in Brussels, the union's new president, Herman van Rompuy, has suggested that EU summits should from time-to-time take place in the member state holding the rotating EU presidency.

Speaking to press in Vienna on Tuesday (6 April) during his first official visit to Austria as President of the European Union, Mr Rompuy said:

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"It would be a good idea if at least one major event, such as the European Council, was held in the member state holding the rotating presidency ...That would be a symbol that Europe is not just Brussels, but the 27 member states."

The new treaty does not specify where summits are to be take place. It says that "the European Council shall meet twice every six months, convened by its President." It adds that "when the situation so requires, the President can convene a special meeting of the European Council."

Mr Van Rompuy, a christian democrat politician and the former prime minister of Belgium, has already chaired three EU summits in Brussels since he took office in December 2009. Not afraid to try a new approach, he opted to hold his first summit in an old library in order to create an informal atmosphere.

As Belgium will be the next country holding the EU presidency, Brussels is bound to host all EU summits for the rest of this year, making Hungary the likely place for the first post Lisbon Treaty out-of-Brussels summit in 2011.

"The next presidency is Belgium. We will have to stay in Brussels," Mr Van Rompuy said, according to Austrian media.

Hungary takes over the rotating presidency on 1 January 2011.

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