‘Anti-EU sentiment is diminishing’ Tusk makes rallying cry ahead of Brussels summit

The 39-year-old will sweep into Brussels for a two-day European Council summit covering the most urgent issues facing the union, including counter-terrorism, immigration and free trade. 

His situation is a far cry from that of Theresa May, who will meet EU leaders for the first time since this month’s humiliating General Election result. 

Having repeatedly pledged “strong and stable” leadership with an increased Conservative majority to strengthen the UK’s hand in Brexit talks, the embattled Prime Minister arrives in Belgium as head of a minority government struggling to negotiate a pact with the right-wing DUP. 

Instead, it is Mr Macron who holds the strong and stable mandate, based on a centrist, pro-European agenda that will should see him fit comfortably into the bosom of the EU. 

European Council president Donald Tusk alluded to Mr Macron’s sweeping election victory in his invitation letter to fellow leaders, saying: “The current developments on the continent seem to indicate that we are slowly turning the corner.

“In many of our countries, the political parties that have built their strength on anti-EU sentiments are beginning to diminish. 

“We are witnessing the return of the EU rather as a solution, not a problem. 

“Paradoxically, the tough challenges of the recent months have made us more united than before.”

Although Mr Tusk does not mention Brexit specifically, his invitation includes several references to “unity” as well as “a new-found optimism for the future”. 

The first day of talks begins today at 4pm BST. 

Top of the agenda is security and defence, where heads of state will discuss counter-terrorism and how to better combat online radicalisation.

There will also be talks on jobs, growth and competitiveness, where leaders are expected reaffirm their commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system and review efforts to deepen the single market. 

Immigration is also high on the list, where topics include reform of the common European asylum system, developments in the eastern Mediterranean route and tackling the root cause of mass migration.

After a working dinner tonight, all 27 member states will meet for an update on Brexit talks, which began this week. 

It is there that Mrs May is expected to try and reassure leaders that the rights of the 3.1m EU citizens living in the UK will be preserved after Nritain withdraws from the EU. 

In the margins of that same meeting, leaders are expected to endorse the procedural arrangements for the relocation of the EU agencies currently located in the UK.

Daily Express :: World Feed

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