European Union/European Council
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Minister of State for European Affairs made a statement on the European Council meeting, held in Ypres on 26 June to commemorate the First World War centenary and on 27 June in Brussels.
The European Council nominated Jean-Claude Juncker as candidate for president of the European Commission. It now falls to the European Parliament to elect the Commission president. A meeting of heads of state and government will be held in Brussels on 16 July to discuss the other nominations.
The European Council adopted a strategic programme setting out the European Union’s priorities for the next five years:
growth and employment: the programme mentions the flexibilities offered by the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, the necessity of facing up to investment needs, the need to boost the EU’s attractiveness as a production location with a solid and competitive industrial base and thriving agriculture, and the necessity of strengthening Economic and Monetary Union;
taking into account citizens’ aspirations and their need for protection, by intensifying the fight against youth unemployment, facilitating mobility and combating tax avoidance and evasion;
implementing a European policy on energy and the fight against climate change: we must have financially viable, safe, green energy, and this requires ambitious climate targets, in particular in the run-up to the COP21 to be held in Paris in 2015; with regard to energy and climate, the European Council has taken stock of the progress made since its March meeting, with a view to taking a final decision, in October 2014 at the latest, on a European framework for the period 2020-2030 that defines ways of achieving a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and increasing renewable energy’s share to 27%;
strengthening the area of freedom, security and justice (by more effective handling of migration, the prevention of crime and terrorism, and enhanced judicial cooperation); in this regard, the European Council defined the strategic guidelines in the field of justice and home affairs: the necessary coordination between the EU’s home and foreign policies, cooperation with third countries, the fight against terrorism and radicalization, and in particular the fight against illegal immigration;
the EU’s role as a leading global player (thanks to cooperation with its neighbours and strategic partners and to the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy).
Regarding external relations, the European Council discussed the situation in Ukraine in the presence of President Poroshenko. The remaining chapters of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine (the political aspect of which had already been signed on 20 March) were also signed, as were the EU-Georgia and EU-Moldova association agreements. The European Council also confirmed that Albania is being granted the status of candidate for membership of the European Union.
Finally, the European Council expressed support for the adoption of the euro by Lithuania, which should thus become the 19th member state of the Euro Area on 1 January 2015./.