Fact of the Week: Will there be another “Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room”?

On 18-19 February, a European summit takes place in Brussels. European leaders gathered to tackle two major crises the European Union (EU) has been facing for months already, both external (refugees) and internal (Brexit).

It seems like EU leaders meeting to address existential crises has become quite a habit. Once more, they are divided between themselves; and once more they are facing the threat of a Member State leaving. In a letter to the heads of the 28 Member States, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said the summit is “a crucial moment for the unity of our Union and for the future of the United Kingdom’s relations within Europe”.

The last time Europe’s press and peoples looked to Brussels to reach an agreement on avoiding an existential crisis for the European project was less than a year ago. That time, European Heads of State and Government descended on the European Council’s Justus Lipsius Building to decide whether Greece would get another bailout or be forced to leave the Eurozone. The result of the emergency meeting on 12-13 July 2015 is rather well known, as are the apparent heroics by Donald Tusk who, after 14 hours of failing negotiations ‘saved’ the Eurozone by telling Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room”.  

The big question for the European summit this time will be whether the European leadership will be locked inside a building again if they fail to reach a common denominator with David Cameron, and more importantly, who will step up this time to save the European Union from breaking apart?