Brexit will take a backseat for once as leaders do battle over who should replace European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker over the next five years. EU talks could go on for several hours, with feuding has already broken out throughout on how the successor will be chosen, with European Council President Donald Tusk expressing “cautious optimism” leaders will be quick to agree on a way forward. Theresa May will also be present, despite only her having approximately five weeks left as the UK’s Prime Minister until a winner of the Conservative Party leadership race is crowned.
This afternoon sees the heads of states discuss and adopt conclusions on the EU’s long-term budget, or Multiannual Financial Framework.
They will also discuss climate change, disinformation and hybrid threats as well as external relations, including on Ukraine/Russia and Turkey’s illegal drillings in Cypriot waters.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, of the current rotating presidency of the Council, will provide an update on the implementation of previous European Council conclusions.
The evening dinner will see the crunch part of the summit begin, with discussions taking place over the appointments to the top EU jobs.
The heads of state will aim to appoint a new European Council President.
The will also look to nominate candidates for the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Central Bank and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
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2.11pm update: Rutte admits ‘positions are far apart’ on job decisions
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is hopeful EU leaders can decide on the next President of the European Commission today.
But he admitted: “Positions are still far apart. I hope we’ll get as far as possible.”
Mr Rutte is backing Margrethe Vestager to become European Commission President.
2.07pm update: Merkel backed by former German Social Democrat leader for top job
Sigmar Gabriel has thrown his weight behind Angela Merkel being appointed as the next European Council President.
He wrote in German business newspaper Handelsblatt: “Europe will have to reinvent itself if it wants to survive and for that Europe needs leadership.”
2.03pm update: Macron dismisses France v Germany battle
The French President is asked on whether the EU Summit should be billed as a match between the two countries.
He replies: “I think that’s an error and you shouldn’t read it that way, I’m going to see Madame Merkel now.”
2pm update: Bettel rules himself out of running for top EU jobs
Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel is “pleased” his name is being linked with the top EU jobs, but will not be putting himself forward for any of them
He said: “I love Brussels very much, but Luxembourg is my favourite place.
“For the moment, I’m very pleased that my name is circulating (for Council president) but I am not the candidate for the top jobs.”
1.45pm update: ‘I don’t want to lock myself up in a name’ – Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived and has spoken about the all-important nominations for the next European Commission President.
He said: “What’s happening doesn’t surprise me,” Emmanuel Macron said of Manfred Weber.
“We have to now succeed at finding the men and women who will carry this ambition, I will support the strongest figures. We must have nominations that respect gender parity.
“I can see that the Parliament expressed itself around one candidature.
“The role of France is to build a constructive solution and make sure the best team for Europe emerges. I don’t want to lock myself up in a name.”
1.30pm update: Merkel reiterates position on Commission President selection process
Angela Merkel has said both parties in her Government coalition support the Spitzenkandidat system, but admitted not everyone in the European Council favours that.
She said: “I do not see this as dangerous … our goal should be to find a solution before the first European Parliament assembly in early July.”
But she also warned: “The Council must be respected, but the Parliament must also be respected. It is not acceptable to me that the Council makes a proposal that in the end is not supported by Parliament.”