Special meeting of the European Council
16 July 2014
EU leaders met on 16 July to discuss a number of key appointments to be made for top EU positions. They also discussed new sanctions on Russia and the situation in Gaza.
The next institutional cycle
At the end of the meeting, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, concluded on the need for further consultations to decide on names for EU top positions :"We are not yet at the point where we can get a consensual solution on a full package of appointments. We will continue consultations."
EU leaders decided to meet again on 30 August to discuss further the topic.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the new President-elect of the Commission, joined part of the meeting to debate the priorities set in the strategic agenda for the Union and how he intends to organise the work to move them forward.
On Ukraine, EU leaders stressed their support for a peaceful settlement of the crisis and regret that Russia and the separatists did not take the requested steps set out in the 27 June European Council conclusions. They agreed on targeting Russia with a new set of 6 restrictive measures:
- a new list of entities and persons, including from the Russian Federation that are materially or financially supporting actions against Ukraine will be established by the Council by the end of July. Possible measures against individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine will also be studied
- the signature of new financing operations in the Russian Federation by the EIB will be suspended
- member states will coordinate with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to adopt a similar position
- the Commission will reassess and potentially suspend the implementation of EU bilateral and regional cooperation programmes with Russia
In line with the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, the European Council also requested the Commission and the EEAS to present proposals for additional measures:
The European Council is following with great concern the continued violence in Israel and Gaza. It welcomed on-going efforts by regional partners to establish a cease-fire and called on Hamas to agree on such cease-fire.
EU leaders highlighted the need for both parties to work towards a resumption of the diplomatic process and to make the strategic choice of peace.
Nomination procedure for top EU positions
At their June meeting, EU leaders adopted the decision proposing to the European Parliament Jean-Claude Juncker as candidate for President of the European Commission. The Parliament elected the proposed candidate on 15 July. Leaders also asked Herman Van Rompuy to conduct consultations on the nominations for the other top positions.
During the course of 2014 there will not only be a new College of Commissioners, but also a new President of the European Council, and a new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
President of the European Council
According to Article 15(5) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the European Council shall elect its President by a qualified majority for a period of two and a half years, renewable once.
Herman Van Rompuy was appointed for the first time in November 2009, and re-elected in March 2012. His current mandate will expire on 1 December 2014. He has been asked to start consultations with EU heads of state or government to identify the best possible candidate for his succession.
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The post-holder is responsible for coordinating the EU's common foreign and security policy and contributes to the development of that policy. The High Representative is also a Vice-President of the Commission and ensures the consistency of the Union's external action.
The European Council, acting by a qualified majority, with the agreement of the President of the Commission, appoints the High Representative (Article 18 TEU). His or her term of office is 5 years, in line with that of the other Commissioners.
EU leaders appointed Catherine Ashton (UK) as High Representative in November 2009. She will step down when the current Commission's term ends on 31 October.
Members of the Commission
Each EU member states proposes a candidate for the position of Commissioner. These names are submitted to the incoming President of the Commission who is responsible for the distribution of portfolios. The list of nominations is then, by common accord with the President-elect, adopted by the Council.
- the President, the High Representative and the other members of the Commission shall be subject as a body to a vote of consent by the European Parliament
- on the basis of this consent, the Commission shall be appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority