A meeting of the leaders of the European Union this week will focus on other simmering crises amid stalled Brexit negotiations instead of Britain’s march out of the block which was once heralded as a crucial moment in Britain’s history and association with the block.
There has been insufficient progress in separation talks with the U.K. to allow parallel trade negotiations to begin, EU chiefs meeting in Brussels are set summarily to declare. Hehnce issues ranging from U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to ditch the Iran nuclear accord to the threat posed by North Korea are issues that can thus be discussed at the meeting.
Here are some highlights of what assumes importance for the EU leaders.
While avoiding any policy changes, such as formally suspending the country’s 12-year-long negotiations on joining the bloc, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on domestic political opponents is expected to be a topic that the leaders plan to vent frustration over. With the membership talks already stalled and the bloc keen for Erdogan to uphold a 2016 agreement stemming an influx of Middle Eastern refugees, this reveals the extent to which the status quo suits the 28-nation EU.
Iran’s Nuclear Deal
After Trump last week threatened to walk away from the deal (which took 12 years of diplomacy to reach) and asked Congress to toughen the terms within 60 days, the EU government chiefs will reiterate a determination to uphold the Iranian nuclear agreement. Lawmakers in Washington will ultimately preserve the 2015 pact is what Europe is pinning its hopes on.
French Trade Brake
When the new French President Emmanuel Macron warns the bloc against rushing into more free-trade deals, heh will be taking a page out of France’s old EU handbook. Key to countering Trump’s protectionist tilt is more free-trade deals is what other European governments believe.
To revamp European asylum rules by establishing a system for relocating refugees across the bloc when a gateway country is overwhelmed by arrivals, push for a long-sought breakthrough over a controversial 2016 proposal, opposed by eastern members, is being led by EU countries including France and Germany. To manage the flow of migrants from across the Mediterranean, he would continue his country’s “battle” at the summit for “a greater commitment” from other member states, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told lawmakers in Rome on Wednesday.
With Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy committed to revoking the region’s devolved powers unless the separatist leaders back down by 10 a.m. Thursday, leaders will have half an eye on events in Catalonia, even while not formally on the summit’s agenda.
Russian Gas Pipeline
For a plan by the European Commission to make the Nord Stream 2 Russian natural-gas link project compliant with EU energy law, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo may seek support from her counterparts.
Including closer defense cooperation and deeper euro-area integration, EU leaders will look at their road map for the bloc over the next two years. Calling for EU leaders to be more actively involved European Council President Donald Tusk mapped out how the EU should move ahead in key areas in a letter on Tuesday.
(Adapted from Bloomberg)