The Iranian attacks on Israel will be on the plates of the leaders at the first day of the Summit as they sit down to dinner, kicking off the European Council on Foreign Relations at around 20.00 today local time.

On the basis of the latest draft available to TO BHMA, the European Council is expected to condemn Iran’s attack on Israel strongly and unequivocally and to reiterate both its total solidarity with the people of Israel and its commitment to Israel’s security and to regional stability.

At the same time, the leaders will call on Iran and its proxies to stop all attacks, and urge all parties to show maximum restraint and refrain from any action that could increase tensions in the region. The EU is ready to impose further restrictive measures on Iran, in particular in relation to drones and missiles.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell spoke of the need to “coordinate the European response” after the extraordinary teleconference attended by EU foreign ministers following the Iranian attacks. As he pointed out, the latest events “constitute a major escalation of an already highly tense situation in the region.”

“The region is on the edge of the abyss,” said Josep Borrell, echoing the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and comparing it to a game of chess, explaining that “one side attacks the other, the other responds and the other responds back and if the level of the game increases at every step, we find ourselves engaged in all-out war by the end, and that we can do without. The region does not need a full-scale war throughout the Middle East.”

Josep Borrell spoke of a powerful unity in condemning the Iranian attacks against Israel, while “some member states have called for the restrictions imposed on Iran to be extended.”

“I will send the request to the foreign affairs service, so they can begin the work required for the imposition of sanctions” against Iran, he said.

In relation to Turkey, the draft conclusions state that “the European Council held a strategic debate on EU-Türkiye relations, taking into account the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission on the state of EU-Türkiye political, economic and trade relations. The European Union has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. The European Council asks that the preparations for the Joint Communication proceed in line with previous European Council conclusions and in a gradual, proportionate and reversible manner, subject to further guidance from the European Council as required.”

France, for its part, proposed more positive and active language, while Germany was against the use of conditional language.

In relation to the Cyprus issue, the draft notes that the European Union attaches great importance to the resumption and progress of the Cyprus settlement talks, which can also strengthen EU-Turkey cooperation. “Recalling its previous conclusions, the European Council remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU and its acquis are based. The European Council welcomes the appointment of María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar as the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Cyprus”.

“The European Union stands ready to play an active role in supporting all stages of the UN-led process with all appropriate means at its disposal,” the statement notes.

The letter of invitation sent by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, stresses that the “strategic debate” will be “framed by our strategic interest in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship. Enhancing this relationship should also contribute to promoting a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean. Consistent with our approach, our work in this regard should be taken forward in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner.”

On the second day of the Summit (Thursday), leaders will focus on competitiveness, with European Council President Charles Michel noting that the full potential of the single market must be exploited in order “to eliminate fragmentation of every sort” and that the recommendations which Enrico Letta will be presenting in his report should be acted upon.

In his draft report, Enrico Letta writes that “the single market has always been intrinsically linked to the EU’s strategic objectives. Often perceived as technical in nature, it is actually inherently political. Its future is bound up with the EU’s strategic objectives and therefore to the framework within which the EU operates. Consequently, it should never be viewed as a completed effort, but rather as an ongoing project.”

Finally, the President of the European Council underscores that “a new agreement on competitiveness and a new perspective are long overdue. This strong and urgent response is of paramount importance in ensuring our prosperity and our global leadership. In essence, we need to collectively bridge the growth and innovation gap between us and our global counterparts and protect our economic, industrial and technological base.”