The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, is opening today’s EU summit in the Belgian city of Ypres. The 28 heads of state and government are due to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of troops who died on the battlefields of the First World War around the town in Flanders. “It will be a moving ceremony as we will be testifying to what Europe is: a project of peace, solidarity and cooperation”, Van Rompuy commented, reports

In fact, Ypres is likely to be a symbol for the opposite: national discord, social conflict and war; and for the end of the European Union in its current form.

In the run-up to the summit, the conflict over who should be the future president of the European Commission escalated to a point that makes any compromise virtually impossible. British Prime Minister David Cameron is determined to prevent the election of former Luxembourg government leader Jean-Claude Juncker, who is supported by the majority of the EU parliament and of government heads. A vote, which Cameron will lose, seems inevitable. For the first time in the history of the EU, the influential head of the Brussels bureaucracy with its 33,000 employees will not be determined by consensus.

A humiliating defeat for Cameron would strengthen opponents of the EU in the UK and could initiate the country’s exit from the European Union. This would severely disrupt the balance of power in the EU. The political influence of France, and especially Germany, would increase in the short term; in the long term, however, the departure of the third largest economy in the EU would exacerbate tensions between the two countries. Both Paris and Berlin have repeatedly relied on London in the past to out-maneuver their neighbor.

Also on the agenda of the Summit is the signing of the economic part of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Refusal to sign this agreement led to the coup against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which was spearheaded by fascists and backed by the EU.

Originally the summit was also to decide on increased sanctions against Russia. Following a retreat by the Russian president, however, this will probably not take place. With the signing of the Association Agreement, however, which binds Ukraine tightly to the EU, the summit will makes clear that the EU is maintaining its aggressive offensive against Russia.