The bumpy road from Bratislava to Rome

Janis A. Emmanouilidis

Post-summit Analysis

Brussels 10/2016

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The EU’s October 2016 Summit was dominated by three main issues: migration, international trade and relations with Russia, with EU leaders being eager to display a certain degree of unity and normality. This analysis argues that the Summit was a rather unspectacular meeting in terms of actual results. But it did not pass unnoticed, given that it was overshadowed by the veto of Wallonia to CETA, which questions the Union’s credibility as in international trade actor. With respect to migration, the focus was once again on the security aspects and on fire-fighting rather than on the remaining structural deficiencies. The debate on relations with Russia showed major divisions between national capitals. However, the fact that President Putin seems ready to do whatever it takes to re-establish Moscow as a global power increases the chances that the EU front will remain united. In more general terms, the inability to reach concrete decisions and the divides between member states on many core policy issues displayed at the October Summit indicate that the road from Bratislava to Rome, where EU leaders want to give the public a “vision of an attractive EU”, will be a bumpy road. This is a worrisome perspective given that what is at stake is much more than the EU itself: it is the danger of the emergence of a regressive and illiberal Europe – a Europe in which key values, orientations, norms and principles are being increasingly undermined.

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