Chapter News

Main Results of the European Council

On 12 December, EU leaders discussed climate change, the EU’s long-term budget and external relations, among other issues. On 13 December, they focused on the economic and monetary union and Brexit.

Climate change

EU leaders endorsed the objective of making the EU climate-neutral by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement. They underlined that the transition to climate neutrality will bring significant opportunities for economic growth, markets, jobs and technological development. Poland, at this stage, could not commit to implementing this objective, which is why the European Council will come back to this issue in June 2020.

The European Council took note of the Commission communication on the European Green Deal and asked the Council to take work forward.

Leaders recognised the need to put in place an enabling framework to ensure a cost-effective, as well as socially balanced and fair transition to climate neutrality, taking into account different national circumstances.

The European Council underlined that the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) will significantly contribute to climate action. Tailored support for regions and sectors most affected by the transition will be made available from the Just Transition Mechanism.

“All relevant EU legislation and policies need to be consistent with, and contribute to, the fulfilment of the climate neutrality objective while respecting a level playing field.”

European Council conclusions, 12 December 2019

The European Council recognised that all relevant EU policies need to be in line with the climate-neutrality objective and invited the Commission to examine whether existing rules, including on state aid and public procurement, require adjustment. It also asked the Commission to report regularly on the environmental and socio-economic impact of the transition to climate neutrality.

EU leaders acknowledged the need to ensure energy security and to respect the right of the member states to decide on their energy mix and to choose the most appropriate technologies. Some countries have indicated that they use nuclear energy as part of their national energy mix.

Finally, leaders invited the Commission to prepare:

  • a proposal for the EU’s long-term strategy as early as possible in 2020 with a view to its adoption by the Council and its submission to the UNFCCC
  • after a thorough impact assessment, a proposal for an update of the EU’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) for 2030 under the Paris Agreement

Long-term EU budget

The European Council discussed the main features of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. This followed the presentation of the MFF negotiating box with figures by Finland’s presidency.

EU leaders called on the European Council President Charles Michel to take the negotiations forward with the aim of reaching a final agreement.

Conference on the Future of Europe

The European Council considered the idea of a Conference on the Future of Europe, starting in 2020 and ending in 2022, to involve the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission in their respective roles.

External relations

EU-Africa partnership

EU leaders reaffirmed the importance of the EU-Africa partnership. They stressed the need for a strategic discussion, on Africa relations and on the next EU-African Union summit, at the June 2020 European Council.

Relations with Russia

Chancellor Merkel and President Macron informed the leaders about the implementation of the Minsk agreements, following the meeting in Normandy format on 9 December 2019 in Paris. EU leaders agreed to roll over the economic sanctions on Russia for another 6 months.

Turkey

EU leaders discussed relations with Turkey, in light of Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. They reconfirmed previous Council conclusions condemning Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. They also denounced the Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions and reaffirmed their full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus on this matter.

Albania

The European Council expressed solidarity with Albania in light of the recent earthquake. EU leaders welcomed the Commission’s announcement to provide humanitarian assistance and to organise a donors’ conference.

Trade

The European Council reiterated its full support for the global rules-based international order and noted with concern the paralysis of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) mechanism for settling disputes.

Leaders supported the European Commission’s efforts to set up interim arrangements with third countries while actively pursuing a permanent solution. In that connection, the European Council called on the European Parliament and the Council to examine the Commission’s proposal to adapt the EU legislation referring to the EU’s rights under international trade agreements.

Economic and monetary union

EU27 leaders took stock of progress made on the implementation of the June 2019 Statement of the Euro Summit, including the:

  • revision of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Treaty
  • budgetary instrument for convergence and competitiveness (BICC)
  • technical work on the strengthening of the banking union

Brexit

EU27 leaders discussed Brexit and preparations for the negotiations on future EU-UK relations after the withdrawal. They reconfirmed their aim of establishing as close as possible future relationship with the UK and welcomed the Commission’s decision to reappoint Michel Barnier.

Compliments of the European Commission