The most important news out of Brussels this week isn’t happening

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 21, 2021

The European Commission in Brussels. Photo by Guillaume Périgois on Unsplash

Everything – except the one thing that really matters — is happening in Brussels this back end of the week.

European Union (EU) leaders are meeting in the Belgian capital today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) for the European Council summit.

Nato defence ministers are getting together at the end of the week and everyone will be looking to assess their spirits nine weeks after the Afghan exit.

But Iranian diplomats aren’t meeting their EU counterparts to discuss how to break the deadlock with the US on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

Everything is important in its own way (and the European Council summit will have its share of significant cliff-hangers, not least a fraught discussion of Polish bullishness). But the Iran talks, had they gone ahead, would probably have been the most significant of this week’s Brussels confabs. Imagine the market fizziness were there to be agreement on the nuclear deal. Sanctions on Iran would be lifted, Iranian crude would surge onto markets at a testing time for energy supplies and there would be a sense of returning equilibrium to the world order overturned by Donald Trump.

As things stand though, the only glimmer of hope is EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s bland expression of “hope that we will have preparatory meetings in Brussels in the days to come, but I cannot be sure of that”.