Sunday

26th Jan 2020

Crucial summit: last EU-28 format?

  • This may be the last EU summit with the representatives of 28 European countries

The EU summit starting on Thursday (17 October) will be crucial for the future of the whole EU, but especially for the UK since Brexit is imminent and the fate of the world's fifth-largest economy is still unknown.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October - British prime minister Boris Johnson has insisted this will happen, regardless of whether there is a deal or not.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

However, Johnson is obliged to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit if he does not get an agreement with the EU and UK MPs, under new legislation passed last month in the British parliament.

As a result, this EU summit may be the last one with the EU-28 format, at least for some time.

In the EU summits, heads of government from each of the EU member states, the EU council president and the president of the EU commission meet once every quarter to define the EU's overall political direction and priorities.

On 1 December 2019, the current prime minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, will take office as the new president of the EU council, replacing Donald Tusk.

Likewise, this EU summit will be the last one of the outgoing president of the commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who will be replaced by the commission president-elect, Germany's Ursula von der Leyen.

Von der Leyen will meet all EU leaders for the first time since her nomination at the EU summit on Thursday.

Consequences for voting system

The EU Council normally decides by consensus.

However, multiple important appointments, such as the commission president and the whole commission, require a double majority - 72 percent of the member states representing at least 65 percent of all EU citizens.

When the proposals come from the commission, the double majority only needs 55 percent of voting members states, still representing 65 percent of all EU citizens.

Other decisions, such as the approval of new member states, require unanimity among European countries.

The UK's withdrawal will have some consequences for the power relations within the council.

According to the EU parliament, Poland, Spain, France, and Germany are gainers in voting power, while the smallest member states, of the population size of Croatia and smaller, will be the losers.

Only in France and Germany the population proportion will rise (to over 33 percent) and as a result, they will have more theoretical possibilities of blocking decision-making.

EU leaders to warn von der Leyen over 'giving in' to MEPs

The new commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen will meet for the first time with EU leaders who nominated her for the job. She will be asked to lay out her plans for getting her commission through parliament.

EU Parliament ready for Council spat on top EU posts

The majority of political groups in the European Parliament - with the now exception of ALDE - are gearing up for a fight with EU premiers on who and how people will get the top posts of the EU institutions.

Croatia's EU presidency optimism beset by problems

Croatia wants to focus on economic development, connectivity, internal and external security and a globally more assertive Europe over its six-month presidency - but Brexit and the next budget negotiations may put pay to that.

Spain poised for first coalition government since Franco

Spanish caretaker prime minister and Socialist Party (PSOE) leader, Pedro Sánchez, is expected to win the second investiture vote on Tuesday - after he lost the first attempt on Sunday in an extremely tight result.

Catalan support for Sanchez breaks Spanish deadlock

Catalonia's largest separatist party to abstain during the upcoming confidence vote in the Socialist-led government in exchange for promises of political dialogue. Meanwhile a Belgian judge has suspended an arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftist MEPs to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us