EU October 2017 Summit - The European Council Takes Over
The times of crises in the EU are over and now is the right moment to start building the next floor of the common construction. This is the message of the October European Council, which opens a new page in the relations between the member states and the institutions. The EU summit on 19-20 October will remain in history as an inter-institutional battle for power at a time when a part of the EU members is ready to make a big step forward, but another part has waged a war against the others by pulling the brake to further integration.
The most crucial issue will be the change of working methods. Under this innocent name is hiding an attempt by the European Council president to score a point against the European Commission chief, and in the same time to try and overcome divisions within the EU between pro-European and eurosceptic states.
On the menu of the two-day summit are several tough issues: migration, digital economy, integration in the area of defence, external affairs. Regarding migration, the leaders will open a new chapter - financing of the facilities for keeping migrants away. On the digital economy there are also painful points - taxation of digital companies, for instance. When it comes to defence, the member states have by the end of the year to notify whether they will participate in the so called permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), which means in fact the beginning of a common European army.
The leaders will also discuss relations with Turkey, but the country's membership will not be the focus of the debate. They will condemn North Korea and will urge the country to keep its international obligations. The European Council will also welcome the conclusions of the foreign ministers in support of the deal with Iran.
The Brexit issue will this time find its way on the leaders' table since there has been no progress so far in the negotiations. This is also expected to be the conclusion - that there is no sufficient progress to enable negotiations to continue in phase 2, which discusses the future relations after UK's leaving. Nevertheless, the leaders are willing to give the British prime minister a chance. The initial plan was the beginning of the second phase to be announced at the October summit. The issue will be discussed during the working dinner, when French President Emmanuel Macron plans to raise the issue of trade. This is expected to be a toxic issue.