The Brief: what to expect at the EU summit

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By Stefan Grobe, Meabh Mc Mahon, Sandor Zsiros
The Brief: what to expect at the EU summit

It's showtime again in Brussels: For the last time of the year, EU leaders come together for a European summit this Thursday and Friday, trying to make the pre-Christmas season bright.

On the agenda is a lot of unfinished business like Brexit or the long-term budget of the bloc - and of course climate policy, which has emerged as the number one priority for citizens, according to the latest opinion surveys.

Member states are expected to commit to a road map to climate neutrality by 2050 under the Green Deal - probably after a tough talk.

“We think its not a game, its a serious matter. And for this we need a plan. And we would like to have a clear plan, an agenda with all technical and financial aspects how the EU will reach carbon neutrality," Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian Foreign Minister.

Pressured by a wave of public demonstrations this year in favor of a more muscular climate policy, leaders have at least pledged that they would take the issue seriously.

Yet, critics are not convinced that the EU is imbued by a sense of urgency.

"Hopefully, the EU will come to an agreement on this climate neutrality target which is basically to cut all emissions. But what we really want them to do and need them to do if we look at the science, if we listen to all the kids on the street, is urgent action to tackle the climate emergency. What measures can they take now that they're in government, in power, not in 2050 when they're be long gone, to start addressing the crisis," questions Mark Breddy, Head of Communications at Greenpeace Europe.

An effective climate policy comes with a price tag - but EU leaders are still struggling with the long-term financial planning. There is no agreement in sight.

Complicating the issue is Brexit - and the question how long Britain will keep paying into the common budget.

The summit might get a taste of future problems when they will monitor the outcome of the British elections - in real time.