Ahead of the first European Council summit without Britain, attitudes across Europe are mixed. Most are keen not to punish the UK or damage their own national interests in the upcoming negotiations, while staying firm on the necessity to respect the EU’s four freedoms. But Brexit will not dominate proceedings. The show must go on, and many are keen to demonstrate progress on security and growth initiatives, in particular, while avoiding over promising through grandiose declarations.
Expect modest rhetoric and an emphasis on Bratislava as the beginning of a process of reflection, rather than a defining moment. In all of this, Warsaw is the outlier, and it remains to be seen how hard it will push its counter-revolution agenda for a return of competences to the national level.
Concrete progress on central challenges are the way to respond to the crisis in Europe.
When the future of the EU is discussed in Sofia, keeping the four freedoms intact takes primacy over any desire for a cultural counter-revolution.
Sweden has much to lose from a hard divorce.
The vacuum created by Brexit could be the perfect opportunity for Spain to step up - if only it could form a government.