EU leaders - minus UK prime minister Theresa May - meet in Bratislava in a search for new solutions to what European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, calls its 'existential crisis'. As Ivor Bennett reports, Brexit may dominate the mood - but with little progress expected on it.
27 countries present. But it's the one that's missing that's making the headlines. Even if the UK and its divorce from the EU isn't strictly on the agenda. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "What Europe should not do, is to continue sleepwalking in the wrong direction." Brexit isn't the only elephant in the room. The refugee crisis and the economy are still the source of deep divisions. The aim in Bratislava is to agree a road map for reform. Wise then to stick to what common ground there is. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: "We wish to set an agenda with three simple themes so that Europeans regain confidence in the European project: protection, that means security; preparation for the future, that means being capable of being a big power on the world economic stage and creating jobs and finally giving hope to young people". Talking the talk is one thing though. Walking the walk another. Especially with elections looming in Germany, France and the Netherlands next year. Angela Merkel already doing her best to manage expectations. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "The point is not to simply expect a solution to Europe's problems from one summit - we are in a critical situation - but rather it is about showing through actions that we can be better." SOUNDBITE (English) JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, SEVEN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, SAYING: "It's going to be very interesting to see because if Germany falters, in terms of its clear vision of it wants to achieve; if it falters in terms of the continued development of the economy; then the EU idea and concept is going to be under serious question and more to the point the euro will be." A time then, for answers. In case any of these faces are about to change.