EU leaders choose Juncker to lead the future of the Union
Meeting in the European Council on 26-27 June, EU leaders decided on their candidate for President of the European Commission. They also discussed a strategic agenda for the EU, the peace plan proposal in Ukraine and congratulated Greece on the main achievements of its presidency.
The European Council adopted the decision proposing to the European Parliament Jean Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission after a formal vote by qualified majority.
The decision follows the extensive discussions Herman Van Rompuy had with the main European Parliament parties and member states' representatives to identify the best possible candidate for the job.
The European Council decided to meet again on 16 July to discuss the nominations for the other top EU positions.
European strategic agenda
At a specific event in Ypres on 26 June, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, EU leaders discussed the future of the EU, its priorities and purpose in the years to come.
They agreed on a strategic agenda which focuses on 5 main objectives and the means to achieve them:
- stronger economies with more jobs
- societies enabled to empower and protect all citizens
- a secure energy and climate future
- a trusted area of fundamental freedoms
- effective joint action in the world
Leaders repeated their commitment to reforms and fiscal consolidation, but also their will to carry out the investments needed for the future. To balance fiscal discipline with the need to support growth, the EU's existing fiscal framework offers possibilities which should be used.
President Van Rompuy said: "We are all committed to the Stability and Growth Pact and that it is a matter of making best use of the flexibility that is built into the existing Stability and Growth Pact rules."
Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change
EU leaders welcomed President Poroshenko's peace plan. But the European Council regrets that the cease-fire has not led to the full cessation of military hostilities.
Regarding sanctions, the European Council is committed to reconvene at any time to adopt further significant restrictive measures if a detailed list of concrete steps are not taken by Russia and the separatists by Monday 30 June:
- agreement on a verification mechanism monitored by the OSCE, for respect of the cease-fire and effective border control
- return to the Ukrainian authorities of three border checkpoints
- release of hostages including all of the OSCE observers;
- launch of substantial negotiations on the implementation of President Poroshenko's peace plan.
Council conclusions on Ukraine
Association Agreements with Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine
On 27 June, EU leaders signed the Association Agreements with Georgia and with the Republic of Moldova. The signature process with Ukraine was completed, in the presence of Mr Poroshenko, the newly elected President of Ukraine.
President van Rompuy recognised the historical nature of the ceremony: "These are not just any other agreements – but milestones in the history of our relations and for Europe as a whole. In Kiev and elsewhere, people gave their lives for this closer link to the European Union. We will not forget them."
He also recalled that: " The European Union stands ready to engage with Russia as much as need be, to dispel misunderstandings where they may exist (…)."
Other topics on the agenda
The European Council endorsed the country-specific recommendations and thus concluded the 2014 European Semester. EU countries should follow these recommendations when drafting their budgets and designing structural reforms, as well as in employment and social policies.
EU leaders also highlighted the need to continue fiscal consolidation efforts "in a growth-friendly and differentiated manner" and growth-enhancing structural reforms.
Euro area enlargement
The European Council endorsed the Commission's proposal that Lithuania adopt the euro on 1 January 2015. The final decision will be adopted by the Council of the EU after the European Parliament has given its opinion.
Strategic guidelines within the area of freedom, security and justice
The European Council defined the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning for the coming years. These guidelines cover fields including immigration, asylum, borders, police and judicial cooperation, fundamental rights and the fight against serious crime and terrorism.
The overall priority for this period is to consistently transpose, effectively implement and consolidate the legal instruments and policy measures already in place.
Climate and energy
Leaders took stock of progress on the 2030 framework for climate and energy policies and stressed the need to quickly develop its key elements. They also held a discussion on the Commission's European energy security strategy.
The European Council confirmed that it would take the final decision on the 2030 framework, including on measures to increase energy security and on interconnection objectives, no later than October 2014.
Albania candidate status
The European Council endorsed the Council conclusions of 24 June 2014 to grant candidate status to Albania.
Press conference video