Friday

30th Oct 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

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

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.

Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study

A new report on gender equality in the EU makes it clear: improved gender equality in decision-making is the main driver of progress in the EU. And most progress so far is due to outliers Sweden, Denmark and France.

Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law

Much still depends on if the German EU presidency is willing to sign up to a strict time limit for member states to decide on possible sanctions in the new rule-of-law conditionality.

MEPs hear clash over occupied Hungarian drama school

The dispute over control of the film and theatre school has generated global support with dozens of internationally recognised artists - including actresses Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren and author Salman Rushdie - supporting the school and its autonomy.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us