The European Council adopted the EU’s strategic agenda for 2019-2024. Leaders also focused on climate, disinformation, the long-term EU budget, and external relations, including Russia and Turkey.
On the matter of appointments for the EU’s top jobs, they decided to continue their talks at another meeting on 30 June 2019.
On 21 June 2019 EU27 leaders discussed Brexit and the euro area.
Based on the discussions at the informal meeting on 28 May 2019 and subsequent consultations between President Tusk and the heads of state or government and representatives of the European Parliament, the European Council discussed the possible candidates for the top positions in the EU. The leaders’ talks on nominations will continue at the next summit, on 30 June 2019.
Strategic agenda for 2019-2024
The European Council agreed on an agenda for the EU for the next five years. ‘A new strategic agenda 2019-2024’ sets out the priority areas that will steer the work of the European Council and provide guidance for the work programmes of other EU institutions.
The strategic agenda focuses on four main priorities:
- protecting citizens and freedoms
- developing a strong and vibrant economic base
- building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe
- promoting European interests and values on the global stage
It also sets out how to achieve those objectives.
Multiannual financial framework (MFF)
The European Council welcomed the work done under the outgoing Romanian presidency on the MFF package for 2021-2027.
EU leaders called on Finland’s upcoming presidency to further develop the negotiating box, which will serve to clarify the options on the negotiating table.
On this basis, the European Council will hold an exchange of views in October 2019, aiming for an agreement on the EU’s long-term budget before the end of the year.
EU leaders emphasised the importance of stepping up global climate action to achieve the Paris agreement objectives ahead of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September.
The European Council invited the Council and the Commission to advance work on processes and tools to be put in place to ensure a transition to a climate-neutral EU that will:
- take into account specificities of the EU countries
- preserve the competitiveness of European industry
- use just and socially balanced measures
- respect member states’ right to decide on own energy mix
- build on the measures already in place to achieve 2030 reduction target
For a large majority of member states, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050.
The European Council will finalise its guidance before the end of the year with a view to the adoption of the EU’s long-term strategy in early 2020.
EU leaders called for more efforts to tackle disinformation following the last EU elections. More needs to be done to raise awareness, increase preparedness and strengthen resilience to disinformation.
Leaders welcomed the Commission’s intention to assess the implementation of commitments undertaken by online platforms under the Code of Practice.
EU leaders welcomed the recent adoption of a new sanctions regime to deal with cyberattacks. They called for new measures to boost the EU’s resilience to cyber and hybrid threats from outside the EU.
They also highlighted the importance of better protecting the EU’s information and communication networks, and its decision-making processes, from malicious activities.
The European Council discussed latest developments and the situation in eastern Ukraine and the Azov Sea. It reiterated its call on Russia to release the captured Ukrainian sailors, return the seized vessels and ensure free passage through the Kerch Strait. EU leaders also called on Russia to fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the downing of flight MH17.
Chancellor Merkel and President Macron briefed the leaders on the overall implementation of the Minsk agreements and the negotiations in the Normandy format. EU leaders unanimously agreed to roll over the economic sanctions on Russia for another 6 months and called for an urgent resumption of negotiating efforts to implement the Minsk agreements. The European Council will continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to consider further options, including non-recognition of Russian passports issued in violation of the Minsk agreements.
On Libya, the heads of state or government said that the country’s peace and long-term stability were a common priority. They reiterated their support for the UN-led political process.
Regarding Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, the European Council expressed serious concerns and underlined the negative impact that such actions had across the range on EU-Turkey relations. The European Council called on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions. The EU will monitor developments and stands ready to respond in full solidarity with Cyprus.
EU leaders reaffirmed the importance of the Eastern Partnership as 2019 marks its 10th anniversary. They invited the Commission and the High Representative to present new long-term policy objectives by early 2020, ahead of the next Eastern Partnership summit.
Leaders also discussed the EU’s strategic partnership with Africa, the renewed impetus in EU-Morocco relations and the peaceful transfer of power in the Republic of Moldova.
The European Council endorsed the conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association processadopted by the Council on 18 June 2019.
In the context of the European Semester, the European Council discussed the country-specific recommendations.
On 21 June 2019, the Euro Summit in an extended format of EU27 leaders looked at the economic situation together with European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi.
Leaders also discussed work done by the Eurogroup regarding deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), in particular:
- a budgetary instrument for convergence and competitiveness (BICC) for the eurozone
- changes to the treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)
- strengthening the banking union
The Euro Summit welcomed the progress made by the Eurogroup and invited it to continue working on all the elements of the package.
At the end of the meeting, the EU27 leaders briefly addressed the issue of Brexit. Presidents Tusk and Juncker updated the heads of state or government on the state of play. Leaders agreed that the EU27:
- look forward to working together with the next UK Prime Minister
- want to avoid a disorderly Brexit and establish as close a future relationship as possible with the UK
- are open to talks when it comes to the Declaration on future UK-EU relations if the position of the United Kingdom were to evolve, but the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation
- have been informed of the state of play of planning for a no-deal scenario