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00:00:01
>> European leaders are gathering in Brussels for the final summit of what could charitably be called a memorable year. Brexit, Trump, the migrant crisis, and the rise of anti-establishment parties. Never has the EU had so many issues to confront. In Brussels, I'm Reuters' reporter Julian Satterthwaite. The leaders here under pressure to show that they have answers to at least some of these problems.
00:00:22
But one simple fact suggests that maybe they haven't. The summit being downgraded from two days to one, and there is little talk of big decisions being made. Brexit, perhaps the one subject where there is a kind of unity. It's not officially on the agenda because the 27 Member States besides Britain have agreed they won't talk about it.
00:00:40
Not until the exit process is formally triggered at least. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, pointedly uninvited to tonight's summit dinner. The migrant crisis is on the official agenda. Again though, little sign of big developments. Southern countries like Greece and Italy saying they're taking too much of the burden.
00:00:57
But Hungary and other Eastern Europeans saying their doors will remain firmly shut. One reason is that insurgent anti-immigration parties have governments running scared. Elections due next year in France, Germany and the Netherlands. And the Populists hope to do well in all three. French President Francois Hollande may be something of a lame duck here.
00:01:16
He's decided not to run next year. And there's real fear in Brussels that he could be succeeded by Marine Le Pen. She's pledged to push for a Frexit, and that would surely be a mortal blow for the bloc. One area of possible agreement is Russia and EU Nations look pretty certain to extend sanctions for maybe for the last time.
00:01:33
No one at all sure what happens next year when Donald Trump has sworn-in, as he wants warmer ties with Vladimir Putin. All this isn't even to mention Aleppo or Greece's debt problems, which some fear are building up again. Little wonder perhaps if leaders want to cut this summit short and put 2016 behind them.
00:01:51
One relief for them on Thursday though. Nigel Farage, the founding father of Brexit and Brussels tormentor-in-chief, says he won't be coming.