The Swedish government is preparing to hold an extra summit of national government leaders in Brussels in mid-September.
Sweden, which holds the presidency of the EU, wants the member states to agree on a common position for the G20 summit, which will be held in Pittsburgh on 24-25 September. The Swedes are preparing to schedule a dinner-meeting of heads of state or government on or near 16 September.
A final decision on whether to go ahead with the summit is not expected before mid-August, but EU diplomats said the meeting was “likely” to take place.
A spokesman for Anders Borg, Sweden's finance minister, said: “The presidency is in a state of readiness to call for an extra informal meeting of the European Council in Brussels in September.” He said that whether there would be an extra meeting would depend on the agenda for the G20 summit.
The G20 summit will primarily discuss progress in restoring confidence in financial markets and setting up new structures for their supervision. The meeting will discuss whether and how to scale back economic stimulus packages and monetary easing once the global economy starts to recover. The Swedish presidency has already scheduled an extra meeting for the EU's finance ministers, who will meet for an informal lunch on 2 September to prepare the G20 summit. G20 finance ministers are to meet in London on 4-5 September to prepare for the Pittsburgh meeting.
If the Swedes do convene an extra summit, they will be following the pattern established for the G20 summits in Washington, DC, in November 2008 and in London in April this year. Those were preceded by formal European Councils in Brussels to co-ordinate the EU's position, but an informal summit would not have formal decision-making power.
One of Sweden's aims is to ensure that leaders from EU member states who are not attending the G20 meetings are fully informed about the agenda for the G20 meeting and that they approve the common EU position that the presidency intends to put forward. The London summit was attended by leaders from 22 of the world's leading developed and developing economies. From the EU, the leaders of France, the UK, Italy and Germany, took part, as members of the G8, as well as the prime ministers of Spain, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The latter held the presidency of the EU at the time. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso also attended.
Diplomats said that the G20 summit could also be an important opportunity to discuss climate change ahead of the UN-backed negotiations in December in Copenhagen, where a new global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions is supposed to be struck. The G20 will be attended by China, India and Brazil – important developing countries that will be crucial players in Copenhagen.
If an additional EU summit does take place, then other international developments, such as financing Ukraine's purchase of gas from Russia and the situation in Iran, might yet be added to the agenda.
The meeting comes at an important time in the EU's calendar. On 15 September, the European Parliament is expected to vote on whether to give José Manuel Barroso a second term as Commission president, although Socialist and Green MEPs want the decision delayed until October. On 18 September, the Bundesrat, Germany's upper house, is set to approve new legislation on how the national parliament is consulted on EU decisions if the Lisbon treaty comes into force. On 2 October, Ireland will hold its second referendum on the Lisbon treaty.
The presidency has scheduled its mid-term European Council for 29-30 October. Swedish ministers have said that they want to use that meeting to decide on appointments to new EU posts created by the treaty, including a full-time president of European Council and a high representative for foreign and security policy.