Damaged by Brexit, EU heads to show united front at Romania meeting

Damaged by Brexit, EU heads to show united front at Romania meeting

European Union leaders meeting in Romania on Thursday will hammer home their goal of staying united “through thick and thin” after the turmoil of Brexit and will have their first go at assigning the bloc’s most powerful jobs.

The leaders of all members except Britain meet on Europe Day in the town of Sibiu, which has German and Hungarian roots, 15 years after the EU’s expansion east finally consigned the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War Two to history.

While rich in symbolism, the summit will be short on substance – a reflection of how the EU has been engulfed by problems and divisions that are now playing out ahead of European Parliament elections on May 23-26.

The bloc is divided over issues ranging from migration to democratic standards, grappling with Brexit and a wave of populism, and faces external challenges from China to Russia to the United States. It is also lagging behind on challenges from climate change to cyber security.

But the 27 leaders will sign off on a declaration promising to “defend one Europe”, “stay united, through thick and thin” and “always look for joint solutions”, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

Deepening euro zone cooperation, developing artificial intelligence capabilities and promoting a transition to more environmentally friendly policies are among more than a dozen “strategic agenda” points they will discuss for 2019-2024, although no decisions will be taken.

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