As their ancestors stood shoulder to shoulder in trenches and on battlefields 100 years ago, so the EU’s leaders gathered in Ypres in Belgium on Thursday to solemnly commemorate the start of World War One.
A continent divided by war is now united, although it took a second cataclysm just 20 years after the first for the penny to finally drop, and for co-operation to replace conflict. Poppy petals rained down from the Menin Gate war memorial, and the leaders later placed poppies of their own at the memorial, with the major protagonists of old, the British, French and German leaders joining hands.
Thursday evening sees the leaders around the dinner table to debate a strategic agenda for the 28-member block, where in private the public show of unity may fray a little over Britain’s David Cameron’s seemingly futile rearguard action to try and prevent Jean-Claude Junker becoming the president of the European commission.
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