The EU faces a tough short-term future with Russia, Brexit and migrants all snapping away at unity, which the latest summit hopes to repair.
Day One of the EU summit has been and gone, and it was dominated by Russia, migrants, trade and Brexit.
Today will see more discussions, but the EU is embarking on a difficult period with Britain at its heart, and the Brexit negotiations could have huge repercussions for the remaining 27 EU members. Teresa May laid out her plans for taking Britain out of the EU, and everyone heard a list of Russian attempts to destabilise the Union.
“Leaders emphasised all sorts of Russian activities, from air-space violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks, interference in the EU’s political processes and beyond. Hybrid tools in the Balkans, to developments in the MH17 investigation. Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU,” said EU President Donald Tusk.
Sanctions were discussed with opinion divided as to whether more were needed
in the wake of the latest Syrian air strikes.
“In my eyes there is no room for additional sanctions, for that you need unanimity. There is also no room for lifting the sanctions, I find this correct, because as long as the Minsk agreement is not entirely applied we should not lift the sanctions,” said the European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
Migration policy needed to be strengthened, and members heard this had to include economic and trade co-operation with Africa to succeed, along with more repatriations of failed economic migrants, and tighter border security. International trade agreements were also discussed, especially the soon-to-be-signed one with Canada, which has run into a last-minute snag.
Dramatic tones by #EU's Tusk over #CETA: “It may be our last free trade agreement”. #EUCOpic.twitter.com/y2NlvAtBAt— Yannis Koutsomitis (@YanniKouts) 20 October 2016
“According to press reports the EU member states are ready to give new guarantees to Wallonia so that the Belgian region accepts the trade deal between Europe and Canada. The talks are at the level of ambassadors, if there is an agreement, the heads of states and governments will approve this on Friday,” reports euronews’ Sandor Zsiros.