© European Union, 2012
On 2 March, heads of state or government discussed questions related to the EU's economic strategy and the international situation. They also prepared a number of international summits.
As regards economic questions, leaders endorsed five priorities for 2012 for action in order to
- pursue differentiated and growth-friendly fiscal consolidation
- restore normal lending to the economy
- promote growth and competitiveness
- tackle unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis, and
- modernise public administration.
They called for action both at the national - e.g. in the areas of fiscal consolidation, the employment rate or tax policy - and at the EU level, the latter involving efforts aiming at bringing the single market to a new stage of development, completing the digital single market and reducing the regulatory burden. Particular emphasis was placed on the importance of making progress towards the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.
Syria and other foreign affairs issues
The leaders took stock of developments in the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood and agreed on the priorities for upcoming international meetings. The situation in Syria is of particular concern.
"The situation in Syria is not only preoccupying", said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, "we are in fact horrified by the atrocities which have been and are being committed in Syria." The massive violence and human rights abuses must stop immediately. The EU will step up the pressure against the Syrian regime and is ready to take further targeted restrictive measures. The European Council remains determined to ensure that those responsible for the atrocities being committed in Syria are held accountable for their actions and will coordinate closely with and assist those working to document these appalling crimes. It has already mobilised humanitarian funding and will step up help when the conditions allow more relief operations to be undertaken.
The European Council expresses its concern over the further deterioration of the situation in Belarus. The EU is ready to extend the list of persons subject to a travel ban and an assets freeze.
The leaders took stock of developments in the Southern Neighbourhood, including the Middle East and the Gulf region. The EU is committed to assisting countries engaged in political reforms towards democracy.
They also agreed on the priorities to be pursued at the upcoming G20 meeting with a particular emphasis on growth and financial market reforms. Green growth and sustainable development will be promoted by the EU at both the G20 and the Rio+20 summits.
Press statement by President Van Rompuy (pdf )
Council conclusions (pdf)
Fact sheet on Syria (pdf)
Press conference webcast