BRUSSELS: Summits are usually a chance for European Union leaders to discuss problems and try to strengthen their union. But after two days of talks in Brussels, the only issue they could agree on is the very one that’s a symbol of disunity: Brexit.
Ironically, on the question of actually adding two more member states, North Macedonia and Albania, the leaders bickered and agreed to disagree.
They made no headway on setting the bloc’s next long-term budget, and failed to set tougher climate targets ahead of December’s U.N. global conference on climate change in Chile.
While several leaders celebrated the unity that the 27 member states had maintained during the tortuous talks with Britain, their lack of summit achievements reflects strains and mistrust between them on a host of issues.
“The EU faces many very difficult choices,” said Guntram Wolff, director of the Brussels-based Bruegel think tank. “One of the core problems is that on many issues France and Germany do not see eye to eye.”
“I expect that differences on key strategic issues will be overcome when the need is overwhelming. This way of operating is not optimal but the only way the EU advances at this stage.”
For British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the summit was a win. On Thursday he clinched a deal that clears the way for Britain to leave the bloc on Oct. 31, and flew back to London where he now needs parliamentary backing for the agreement.