When 27 EU leaders meet on Friday, the UK's absence will not prevent sparks from flying over issues such as filling a post-Brexit budget hole and picking a new European Commission chief.
However, current EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker got his job through a different route - by topping the list of all the centre-right European political parties which competed in the last European Parliament elections in 2014 and by claiming that, since his grouping won that election, he was entitled to become commission president.
When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, it is also expected to leave up to €12 billion ($15 billion) per year in a funding gap for the remaining members to find.
The executive Commission wants the budget to increase to 1.1-1.2 percent of European Union gross national income from 1.0 percent now.
But the debate promises to be toxic, with several net contributor states such as the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden refusing to pay more, and mainly Eastern European countries on the receiving end of cuts also likely to be up in arms.
But the 27 countries that will remain in the European Union when Britain leaves are deeply divided over the proposal and officials do not expect any agreement on Friday.
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There is no shortage of potential answers but, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted on the eve of the summit, all will prove to be "very challenging", a diplomatic way of saying that major difficulties lie ahead. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov also attended the meeting, bTV reported. "So no increase, modernize". Britain has agreed to pay its budget share until 2020.
Finland and Belgium sympathize with that view.
"This is the start of an intense and hard process", cautioned Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
The European Commission has warned of cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy if member states are not prepared to increase funding. Italy and France, the next biggest net contributors, are also ready to increase payments, albeit with certain conditions.
The Commission has opened a formal procedure against Poland to examine whether it is complying with its own constitution.
"Additionally, we will have to face the issue of a gap in the European Union budget due to Brexit". Heads of State and Government will discuss the size of the future Eurobudget and its priorities.