Frustration, crashes and threats: Start a tense summit in Brussels

There are transcendental European summits, there are irrelevant summits and there are peaks loaded with explosive material that can jump the delicate balances o

Frustration, crashes and threats: Start a tense summit in Brussels

There are transcendental European summits, there are irrelevant summits and there are peaks loaded with explosive material that can jump the delicate balances of forces, priorities and needs of the continent. The one that starts this Thursday in Brussels is one of the latter. There is nothing, in principle, that on its own it is going to have the power to cause a catastrophe, but the agenda is so charged with complicated topics, and encouragement in the EU are so altered, which can leave surprises everywhere.

The strategic themes that the Heads of State and Government have to approach are four or five, but that inevitably be intertwined. They will start without the traditional meeting with the president of the European Parliament, since David Sassoli remains very headed for the pneumonia he took in September in Strasbourg and is not yet in condition. A anecdotal issue in principle, but it puts full on the table somewhat deeper, because the mandate of Sassoli, two and a half years, expires in January. There is a signed agreement that says that the position would correspond to a 'popular' candidate, but the socialists are reluctant to honor it, appealing to the fact that the world of 2021 has nothing to do with that of 2019 and that conservative supremacy in the National governments have been diluted, so they should keep office. The problem is that Sassoli, the logical option that could sustain the idea, is not clear that he will be in condition, what these days have the corridors of the boiling Eurocámara of rumors, conspiracies and theories.

Then there will be a special family photo, farewell to Angela Merkel after 107 European councils followed. The chancellor is still fun, but all assume that for the December Summit, Olaf Scholz will be. It will not be discussed, but the exit of Merkel and the Broncas that multiply as never around an indisputable leader, but also evidently weakened in the last year of it, they will mark the tone in the coming months. Something has changed and you will have to address at some point.

Formally, the first agenda item that will be touched is that of energy. Then Covid and Rule of Law. At dinner, trade and external relations, thinking about the Balkan partners, Glasgow COP26 in November, or friction with Russia. And for the next day, migrations and digital topics. That in theory because if today the thing enters, the calendar can be adapted.

Listed aseptically, it does not seem serious, but fucked everything complicates. Spain, France, Greece and to a lesser extent Romania, Czech Republic or Portugal are annoying because they believe that the issue of energy prices is not being taken seriously. They believe that the proposal of the European Commission last week is a bad joke and that you have to get hand to the system. The rest resist, sometimes with some disdain, and Charles Michel has complicated sail. It may be the longer discussion and Madrid theme works intensely to change the language that is on paper right now.

To that collateral threats are joined. On the one hand, Greece, which is pressing the Commission, asking for "realism and constructive solutions" because it believes that the environmental objectives for the transport sector are a mistake, and its shipping industry is very threatened. On the other, Poland. Always Poland, which is leading a small rebellion (growing) against the common energy transition strategy, against the rhythm of emissions reduction. Against Fit For 55, the European Commission's plan, which in theory has generalized support, but which is accumulating waterways. Warsaw, who has other open wars, has a margin of hurting here, and he will not miss it. It has already distributed a 'non-paper', a provocative contribution for the debate asking for much more lax limits, so noise is expected. As if that were not enough, France is in an aggressive campaign in favor of nuclear energy, Germany with gas, and that is impacting in Brussels, where an agreement on call taxonomy is not achieved, defining what is exactly a green energy and what Projects can benefit from Community funds and which ones not in this transition.

That leads to the elephant in the room. Charles Michel has resisted himself as a belly cat above not to put a discussion about the rule of law on the agenda, after what is happening mostly in Poland, with the decision of the Constitutional Court to put in check the Community legal order. But also by Hungary or Slovenia. The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has pressed to speak, and he leaves his, but half. There will be discussion, but not reference to the topic in the final conclusions document.

Michel knows that it is a topic too hot, divisive, potentially very toxic that can suffocate the EU, but can not prevent it from being addressed. In the Netherlands, it is a priority, and more while negotiating the training of government, and the European Parliament has just announced a complaint to the European Commission for not having activated the so-called conditionality mechanism to freeze the funds of Budapest and Warsaw. However, and precisely for that, other partners, such as Spain, press so that it does not be between. They do not want to monopolize the debate as he passed before summer with Hungary. They want to try energy or migrations and know that if the rule of rule is opened, sparks and everything else can be eclipsed and even blocked. The tweet fight between Rutte and the Slovenian Janesz Jansa, the closest thing on Twitter to Donald Trump, is the perfect example of how nerves and control can be lost and leaving an unrecoverable image.

The third strategic issue is migratory, fueled by what happens in Belarus, which makes Alexander Lukashenko for months. The situation is worsening especially in the humanitarian as winter approaches. Aircraft are still arriving from Baghdad to Minsk to abandon and push refugees towards EU territory and the political situation is complicated. "The European Council will not accept any attempt by third countries to instrumentalize immigration by political objectives and condemns these hybrid attacks on their borders," is read in the draft conclusions that is being negotiated.

"The EU remains determined to ensure the effective control of its external borders. Efforts must be made to reduce secondary movements," adds the paper. And here is the second problem. It is not just what happens in Lithuania or Poland because of the pressure of Moscow or the allies of it. Neither in the Mediterranean, orienta or western. There are countries, such as Holland, annoyed by the system. They detect that more than 50% of those who ask for asylum in their country actually carry many years in Europe, have not processed their roles where they should. And they denounce that the system, which erases the data every five years, does not work, so they want so much effort in foreign control and the prevention of illegal movements.

The fourth subject, related tangentially, is the Covid. Vaccination is one of the great successes of the EU and all take breast, from the Commission to Parliament going through the capitals. But in reality, it is almost a success story, because the differences between partners are so brutal that they are close to provoking a serious problem. Some, like Spain, have rates for vaccinated above 90%, but in others, with Bulgaria and Romania specially targeted, the figure is in some cases at 30%, and not due to lack of dose. They are not vaccinating, they do not want to do it, there is a lot of misinformation and that can end up generating problems with the free movement of people. On the verge of overcoming the pandemic, withdrawing measures of all kinds, some governments do not seem arranged that the delays of others endanger the return to normal.

A lot of load, from many fronts and a lot of uncertainty. No draft decisions are expected, there will be no solutions to any of the problems, but the experience of the last decade shows in Brussels that problems are unemployed and that it is not always reinforced, stronger and united crisis. There are existential, economic, migratory and social challenges, a cocktail too dangerous to look for another side. Everyone knows, but nobody knows exactly how to get everyone looking towards the same place at the same time.

Updated Date: 21 October 2021, 03:23

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