On 25 March, EU leaders will come together in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, which were signed on this day in 1957. Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, will participate in the Rome Summit, where a number of events are being organised to mark the occasion and to reflect on Europe’s common future. This anniversary is a moment to look back on our collective achievements and to discuss the future of the EU at 27. Following the presentation of the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe, EU leaders are expected to adopt the Rome Declaration, which will feature the Union’s past achievements, present challenges and pledge to work for unity at 27 and strengthen common action in key policy areas, to the benefit of citizens. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Our parents and grandparents founded this Union with one common vision: never again war. It was their strong conviction that breaking down barriers, working together – and not against each other – makes us all stronger. History has proven them right. For 60 years, the values on which this Union is built have not changed: peace, freedom, tolerance, solidarity and the rule of law bind and unite us. They must not be taken for granted and we must fight for them every day. Our democracy, our diversity and our independent and free press are the pillars of Europe’s strength – no individual or institution is above the law. The European Union has changed our lives for the better. We must ensure it continues to do so for those that will follow us. For now, all roads lead to Rome. After Rome and however it is paved, there is only one way forward: European unity.” The Commission will also be organising in the months ahead public debates with the European Parliament and Member States, as well as online consultations, so that Europe’s citizens have their say and are able to share their views on the future of Europe via the Commission Representations and a dedicated website, which will be launched on 25 March. As part of this process, today High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini, together with the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, will take part in a Citizen’s Dialogue in Rome. Follow it live here. For more information on the White Paper process see this timeline.
President Juncker will be in Rome, Italy on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 March to participate in events marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome – an occasion which paved the way for the creation of the European Union as we know it today. Tomorrow afternoon, President Juncker, accompanied by Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen, will attend an extraordinary meeting of EU social partners and EU institutions in the Palazzo Chigi, hosted by the Italian Prime Minister, to reaffirm the importance of Europe’s social dimension and to pave the way for progress on the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as reflect on the social dimension of the EU within the framework of the White Paper on the future of the European Union. In the evening, President Juncker, along with Heads of State or Government of the European Union, will have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis in Vatican City before having a working dinner with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Nicola Alemanno, the Mayor of Norcia – theItalian town devastated by an earthquake in October 2016 and where the European Commission is contributing to reconstruction efforts. On Saturday, President Juncker will participate in the official ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome which takes place in Campidoglio. There he will join Presidents Tajani and Tusk as well as Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, and Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy to deliver a speech. The 27 Heads of State or Government and the Presidents of the Institutions will then sign the Rome Declaration– in the room where exactly 60 years ago the Rome Treaties were signed. The Rome Declaration will feature the Union’s past achievements, present the challenges it faces and pledge to work for unity at 27 and strengthen common action in key policy areas, to the benefit of citizens. In that regard, it follows the presentation of the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe published on 1 March, which sought to kick-start discussions on what future Europeans want for the European Union.
Meeting at the European Council, leaders noted that for the first time in almost a decade, all 28 economies are expected to grow over the next 2 years. They agreed that this good outlook needs to be sustained by continued structural reform efforts and determined action to complete the single market. Leaders also underlined trade policy as one of the most powerful engines for growth, welcoming the positive European Parliament vote on the EU-Canada trade agreement. Speaking at the press conference, President Juncker signalled that good progress is being made on concluding a trade agreement with Japan, saying “We will seize this opportunity to show the entire planet that we remain a continent of free and organised trade.” Leaders also discussed migration, welcoming the Commission’s Action Plan and Recommendation on returns. President Juncker called for renewed efforts in implementing agreed solidarity measures, whilst leaders agreed they would strive to agree on the Asylum policy reforms by June. President Juncker welcomed the re-election of Donald Tusk to serve a second term as European Council President.
As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, he yesterday presented the “White Paper on the Future of Europe: Avenues for Unity for the EU at 27”, which forms the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit on 25 March 2017. President Juncker said: “Quo vadis Europe at 27? There is no better time, there is also no other time, than now to have this admittedly difficult debate.” The White Paper sets out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade. It presents five scenarios for how the Union could evolve by 2025 depending on how it chooses to respond. “The choices we make today, tomorrow, in two years from now, until 2025, have to be guided by a full understanding of their implications, not for us, but for the generations to come. Because we will be judged not for what we inherited but for what we leave behind,” said President Juncker. Read the full speech here.
As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, the European Commission will present today the “White Paper on the Future of Europe: Avenues for Unity for the EU at 27”, which will form the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit on 25 March 2017. This follows an orientation debate held by the College of Commissioners on the White Paper on the Future of Europe on 22 February and a seminar with the Heads of Cabinet on 23-24 February. Following the meeting of the College of Commissioners yesterday and today, President Juncker will address the European Parliament at 3 pm CET. You can watch the presentation of the White Paper on the Future of Europe at the European Parliament live on EbS+. A joint press conference will be held in the European Parliament by President Juncker and Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament.
Today European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave a speech to students at the University of Maastricht on the occasion of the 25 year anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty. He spoke of the Treaty’s achievements in creating the Economic and Monetary Union. Looking to the future, he called for more unity, structured cooperation and defence of our common achievements. He said “We can no longer explain European integration through its past. We have to explain the European Union through what it can bring for the future.” President Juncker explained that Europe is the smallest continent in the world and that only together can European nations continue to be influential on the world stage, saying “Those who think the time has come to deconstruct, to put Europe in pieces, to subdivide us in national divisions are totally wrong. We won’t exist as single nations without the European Union”.
Today the College has adopted the European Defence Action Plan, which proposes to create a European Defence Fund and includes a number of other actions to support Member States’ more efficient spending in joint defence capabilities, strengthen European citizens’ security and foster a competitive and innovative industrial base. In his 2016 State of the Union speech, President Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the importance of a strong Europe that can defend and protect its citizens at home and abroad – an ambition which cannot be achieved without innovating and pooling resources in the European defence industry. The European Defence Action Plan adopted by the Commission today delivers on that vision. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “To guarantee our collective security, we must invest in the common development of technologies and equipment of strategic importance – from land, air, sea and space capabilities to cyber security. It requires more cooperation between Member States and greater pooling of national resources. If Europe does not take care of its own security, nobody else will do it for us. A strong, competitive and innovative defence industrial base is what will give us strategic autonomy.” The Commission proposes to setup a European Defence Fund to support investment in joint research and the joint development of defence equipment and technologies, foster investments in SMEs, start-ups, mid-caps and other suppliers to the defence, and strengthen the Single Market for defence.
The European Commission is today hosting a half-day technical seminar on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. Mr. Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the UK, will chair the meeting, which includes senior officials from Member States, the European Parliament and the Secretariat of the Council of the EU. The aim of this seminar is to outline the issues at stake for the EU27. It should contribute to building a common understanding of the process to come. President Juncker and Michel Barnier are working hand-in-hand with the President of the European Council in forging a united position among the EU27. As this is a technical seminar only, there will be no press point afterwards.
At the 18th EU-Ukraine Summit, the EU reaffirmed its solidarity with Ukraine and its support for the government’s continuing reform efforts. Read the full press release on the Summit here. President Juncker welcomed the progress made: “Over the last two or three years, while working faithfully with President Poroshenko and his government, we have witnessed a great deal more progress during this short period than in the previous twenty years“. President Juncker spoke of the need for the European Parliament and Member States to reach an agreement in order to allow visa liberalisation to be granted before the end of the year. President Juncker welcomed President Poroshenko’s commitment to meet all remaining reform conditions for the next disbursement of the Macros Financial Assistance. Read the full remarks of President Juncker at the Summit press conference here. Cooperation was strengthened in a number of other areas with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Energy Partnership (press release available here) and the confirmation of a range of support programmes designed to foster accountable and transparent governance. A €15 million reform assistance programme to help Ukraine fight corruption is one element in a €300 million programme that also includes support for decentralisation (€97 million), the reform of public administration (€104 million), and the rule of law (€52.5 million). A full press release is available here, and information on the Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine here. The Summit also provided an opportunity to discuss other important aspects of the EU-Ukraine relationship, including the EU’s proposal for autonomous trade measures for Ukraine. Today, the European Union has increased its support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) with an additional €5 million, added to €25 million already provided. The European Union is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, which was reaffirmed by the EU leaders at the Summit.
The European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group are preparing a joint financial instrument to combine rural development funding with the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the core of the Juncker Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe. Using the EFSI guarantee in combination with European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) will increase the firepower of the support. Details of the initiative will be discussed now and will be announced in due time, including with pilot projects in several Member States over the next two years. Vice-President Katainen said: “EFSI financing is available to support and already supports agricultural SMEs and economically and technically viable projects in the agri-food sectors. This new Financial Instruments vehicle is a welcome step towards using more financial instruments on the agri-food sector – we are on the right track for more jobs and growth.” Commissioner Hogan said: “By developing financial instruments of the right type and right quantity in the agri-food sector, we can dramatically enhance the capacity of our farmers and agri-businesses to innovate, grow, export and create jobs. The new EAFRD – EFSI Initiative is a great new opportunity that offers excellent possibilities for attracting private capital. I am ready to throw my full support behind all Member States willing to open the financial world to their farmers and rural businesses.”