An EU summit without the UK prime minister on 16 September in Bratislava will kick off the discussion on the future of EU following Brexit, EU leaders decided today (29 June).
Under the Slovak Presidency, Bratislava will host an informal summit to start the discussion about the future of the EU. The summit is “informal”, because the UK has not yet left the Union, but its prime minister is not invited. In fact, it is unclear if the UK will even have triggered Article 50 by this date, opening the process of divorce negotiations, expected to last two years.
A “conclave” on the future of the EU was initially discussed for the second half of July, but the meeting was postponed after the August break.
In any case, the summit will not be about Brexit or the divorce talks, but rather on the need for the EU to undergo deep reform if it wants to survive at a time when nationalism prevail over common European action.
EU leaders touched on the matter at the informal summit that ended today, but they didn’t go into details.
“This was a first exchange so it is too early to draw conclusions. This is why we started a political reflection with 27 states and we’ll meet on 16 September in Bratislava to continue our talks,” Council President Donald Tusk said.
The Bratislava summit will come just days after Britain’s ruling Conservative party is due to choose a successor to Cameron, who announced his intention to resign on Friday (24 June) after his country voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%.
Former Polish premier Tusk stressed that negotiations on Britain’s future relationship with the EU cannot start until it formally triggers the two-year process leading to a divorce.
Cameron has said this is a task for his successor.
Tusk meanwhile said at the “calm and serious” discussion – the first EU talks without a British leader present for 40 years – that they agreed it was a “serious moment in our common history”.
“One issue is clear from our debate. Leaders are absolutely determined to remain united,” he added.
Sources told EURACTIV that there was no doubt that leaders in Bratislava would discuss the situation in case London has not triggered Article 50 by then. In case the procedure is delayed, it is likely that EU leaders might accuse London of triggering a crisis of the Union, and adopt a punitive strategy.