The Prime Minister, Charles Michel, met with twelve heads of state and government of the European Union, for an informal diner at the Val-Duchesse château, in Brussels. Organised on the eve of the summit of the of 27 EU countries, the Prime Minister’s circle stated this meeting was held in a “warm and positive atmosphere.”
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and even the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, were taking part in this diner. The heads of government Boïko Borissov (Bulgaria), Leo Varadkar (Ireland), Paolo Gentiloni (Italy), Juha Sipilä (Finland), Xavier Bettel (Luxembourg), Mark Rutte (the Netherlands), Antonio Costa (Portugal), Mariano Rajoy (Spain) and Robert Fico (Slovakia) were also present.
This dinner, organised by Mr Michel within a format never before seen – gathering both the various parts of Europe and of all political leanings – was an opportunity for the leaders present to have “more direct” exchanges than during the usual summits. Trade, the transition to other energy sources, defence, migration, Europe’s position in the world and even the future post-Brexit framework were some of the topics broached during the dinner.
By gathering together these various leaders, the Belgian Prime Minister, who regularly asserts wanting to be in the cockpit of the EU, was emphasising that Belgium will play “an active role to give Europe a new momentum,” his private staff explained on the eve of the meeting. These private staff also stated, “Belgium wishes to build bridges in the various European discussions taking place.”
On Friday, the protagonists at the dinner are meeting at a summit of the 27 European Union countries, without the United Kingdom. Friday’s meeting is devoted to institutional issues, as well as to the European budget post-Brexit.