After months of frenzy, the holiday season is descending on Brussels, and the circus is leaving town.

For a few weeks the arena will be empty, except for its overflowing rubbish bins.

But the artistes' suitcases are bulging with more than swimsuits and suntan lotion. Copies of the new Treaty, lists of new Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament, and revised drafts of EU budgets and long-term spending plans spill from their baggage.

The tradition of the August shutdown is being eroded year by year by the harsh realities of EU business in hand. And this Summer has more business in hand than most.

Immediate unresolved questions include the shape of the new Commission and the strength of the new Parliament. And holiday-making diplomats and officials may also find their clear blue skies clouded by renewed in-fighting over who pays for what in the EU from 2007, by continued turbulence in the Doha trade talks, and by concerns over Darfur and Transdnistria.

More generalised anxieties trouble the horizon - over whether an EU of 25 is capable of functioning, how far a new Commission will reinvigorate the European project, and whether EU understanding will be fatally wounded by fights over EU financing.

Summer reflections will range across the chances of the new Constitution being ratified - and what happens if it isn't, and on...

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