EU Relationship with Russia at the Heart of EU Summit
EU leaders will meet again in person on Thursday and Friday at the annual June summit in Brussels. Most of the spectacle is to be expected in the discussion on Russia, EU sources say.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, backed by French President Emmanuel Macron, proposes an EU summit with President Vladimir Putin on cooperation in areas of common interest, such as public health and climate. It is likely Merkel’s last EU summit, and she wants Russia as the main course of the working dinner.
After a working lunch at 1 p.m. with António Guterres, the top executive of the United Nations, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his colleagues continue to discuss Covid-19. According to the latest figures, 58 percent of adult EU citizens, or just over 200 million people, have been vaccinated at least once. This leads to many relaxations of corona measures, but there are major concerns about new variants advancing. Leaders will discuss lessons learned from the pandemic to better prepare for future crises, Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, wrote in his invitation.
Migration is the next topic. This spring, the number of illegal migrants trying to reach the EU via the Mediterranean Sea increased again after a slowdown last year due to global lockdowns. Because most member states do not want to take over asylum seekers from countries such as Italy and Greece, the focus is mainly on return policy.
At 8 p.m., people will sit down to dinner, possibly a good time to address Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán about the proposed, controversial law that would seriously discriminate against gays and other LGBTI people in the country. Many EU countries are indignant, hoping that Orbán will take a step back under political pressure from his EU colleagues. In addition to Russia, the working dinner is devoted to relations with a range of countries, including Turkey.
On Friday morning, the focus will be on the economy and the recovery plans that give the Member States access to billions of aid from the temporary corona fund. Eurozone policy will also be discussed in the presence of European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.
Both days will be concluded with a joint press conference by Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.