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European Council conclusions, 13-14 December 2018 | EU Council Press

The European Council on 13-14 December 2018 adopted conclusions on the MFF, the single market, migration and other items, namely external relations, climate change, security and defence, disinformation, the fight against racism and xenophobia and citizens’ consultations.

I. MULTIANNUAL FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

1. The European Council welcomes the intensive preparatory work carried out during this semester on the future Multiannual Financial Framework and takes note of the Presidency’s progress report. It calls on the incoming Presidency to continue that work and develop an orientation for the next stage of the negotiations, with a view to achieving an agreement in the European Council in autumn 2019.

II. SINGLE MARKET

2. The Single Market is one of the great achievements of the Union which has delivered major benefits to Europeans. It is our main asset for ensuring citizens’ welfare, inclusive growth and job creation, and the essential driver for investment and global competitiveness. Twenty-five years on, we need to press ahead with the Single Market agenda in all its dimensions and develop a forward-looking approach. The European Council:

  • invites the European Parliament and the Council to agree, before the end of the current legislature, on as many of the pending proposals relevant for the Single Market as possible. It is also important to remove remaining unjustified barriers, in particular in the field of services, as well as to prevent any new barriers and any risk of fragmentation. The European Council calls on the Commission to continue its analysis and its work in this respect;
  • calls for implementing and enforcing, at all levels of government, decisions taken and rules adopted, as well as upholding standards and ensuring the smart application of better regulation principles, including subsidiarity and proportionality;
  • stresses that more needs to be done to ensure that the Single Market provides a solid underpinning for an outward-looking, confident and more autonomous European Union in a challenging global environment;
  • underlines the need for the Single Market to evolve so that it fully embraces the digital transformation, including Artificial Intelligence, the rise of the data and service economy, connectivity, and the transition to a greener economy;
  • calls for strengthening the coherence with all related policies.

3. The European Council will hold an in-depth discussion next spring on the future development of the Single Market and European digital policy in preparation for the next Strategic Agenda.

III. MIGRATION

4. The European Council addressed the implementation of its comprehensive approach to migration, which combines more effective control of the EU’s external borders, increased external action and the internal aspects, in accordance with its conclusions of June and October 2018.

5. The European Council notes that the number of detected illegal border crossings has been brought down to pre-crisis levels, and that the overall downward trend is continuing. This is the result of the external migration policy of the Union and its Member States, based, in particular, on control of the external borders, the fight against smugglers and cooperation with countries of origin and transit, which has been intensified in recent months. This policy should therefore be continued, further developed and fully implemented. Vigilance on all existing and emerging routes should be maintained, in particular in view of recent increases on the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Routes.

6. As regards the internal policies, the European Council invites the co-legislators to rapidly conclude negotiations on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG). It welcomes the agreement reached at the level of the Council on 6 December 2018 with regard to enhancing the EBCG’s mandate in the area of return and cooperation with third countries. It also calls for further efforts to conclude negotiations on the Return Directive, on the Asylum Agency and on all parts of the Common European Asylum System, respecting previous European Council conclusions and taking into account the varying degree of progress on each of these files.

IV. OTHER ITEMS

External relations

7. The European Council discussed preparations for the upcoming summit with the League of Arab States on 24 and 25 February 2019.

8. The European Council expresses its utmost concern regarding the escalation at the Kerch Straits and the Azov Sea and Russia’s violations of international law. It reconfirms its commitment to international law, the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine and the EU’s policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea. There is no justification for the use of military force by Russia. The European Council requests the immediate release of all detained Ukrainian seamen as well as the return of the seized vessels and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Straits. The EU stands ready to adopt measures to strengthen further its support, in particular in favour of the affected areas of Ukraine.

9. The European Council warmly welcomes the positive vote in the European Parliament on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and looks forward to its imminent entry into force.

Climate change

10. Further to the presentation of the Commission Communication “A Clean Planet for all” and taking into account the outcome of COP24 in Katowice, the European Council invites the Council to work on the elements outlined in the Communication. The European Council will provide guidance on the overall direction and political priorities in the first semester of 2019, to enable the European Union to submit a long term strategy by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement.

Security and Defence

11. The European Council welcomes the significant progress made in the area of security and defence, including in implementing Permanent Structured Cooperation, in improving military mobility, in implementing the European Defence Industrial Development Programme and in the negotiations on the proposed European Defence Fund. It endorses the Civilian CSDP Compact. These initiatives contribute to enhancing the EU’s strategic autonomy and its capacity to act as a security provider, while complementing and reinforcing the activities of NATO and strengthening EU-NATO cooperation, in full respect of the principles of inclusiveness, reciprocity and decision-making autonomy of the EU.

Disinformation

12. The spread of deliberate, large-scale, and systematic disinformation, including as part of hybrid warfare, is an acute and strategic challenge for our democratic systems. It requires an urgent response that needs to be sustained over time, in full respect of fundamental rights. The European Council:

  • stresses the need for a determined response, that addresses the internal and external dimensions and that is comprehensive, coordinated and well-resourced on the basis of an assessment of threats;
  • calls for the prompt and coordinated implementation of the Joint Action Plan on disinformation presented by the Commission and the High Representative so as to bolster EU capabilities, strengthen coordinated and joint responses between the Union and Member States, mobilise the private sector and increase societal resilience to disinformation;
  • calls for swift and decisive action at both European and national level on securing free and fair European and national elections.

13. The Council is invited to continue work on this issue and to report back to the European Council in March 2019.

Fight against racism and xenophobia

14. The European Council condemns all forms of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, and underlines the importance of combating intolerance. It welcomes the adoption on 6 December 2018 of the Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism.

Citizens’ Dialogues and Citizens’ Consultations and Preparations for the Strategic Agenda

15. The European Council welcomes the holding of Citizens’ Dialogues and Citizens’ Consultations, which was an unprecedented opportunity to engage with European citizens and which could serve as an inspiration for further consultations and dialogues. The joint report prepared by the current and the incoming Presidency, together with the different national reports and input from the other European institutions, identify a number of concerns and expectations on the part of the participating citizens in terms of concrete results from the EU. At their informal meeting in Sibiu on 9 May 2019, Heads of State or Government will discuss priorities for the next institutional cycle, with a view to agreeing on the next Strategic Agenda in June 2019.

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Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the European Council meetings on 13 December 2018 | EU Council Press

I will start with Brexit. Today Prime Minister May informed the leaders about the difficulties with ratifying the deal in London and asked for further assurances that would, in her view, unlock the ratification process in the House of Commons. After discussing the Prime Minister’s intervention among 27 leaders, and bearing in mind our full respect for the parliamentary process in the United Kingdom, we have agreed the following:

“1. The European Council reconfirms its conclusions of 25 November 2018, in which it endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration. The Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation.

2. The European Council reiterates that it wishes to establish as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future. It stands ready to embark on preparations immediately after signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations can start as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal.

3. The European Council underlines that the backstop is intended as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and ensure the integrity of the Single Market. It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements, so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.

4. The European Council also underlines that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided. In such a case, the Union would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.

5. The European Council calls for work on preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal to be intensified, taking into account all possible outcomes.”

On foreign policy, we discussed the recent escalation in the Sea of Azov. The European Council is united in the conviction that there is no justification for the use of military force by Russia. Therefore, we request the immediate release of all detained Ukrainian seamen. Russia must not limit the freedom of navigation through the Kerch Strait. While the EU continues to follow developments in the Sea of Azov, we will provide additional assistance to the affected regions.

This evening, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron also presented the state of implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and we decided to renew our economic sanctions against Russia, given that no progress has been made. We also discussed the ongoing preparations for the first EU-League of Arab States summit, to take place next February in Egypt.

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European Council conclusions on the multiannual financial framework and on external relations, 13 December 2018 | EU Council Press

I. Multiannual financial framework

1. The European Council welcomes the intensive preparatory work carried out during this semester on the future Multiannual Financial Framework and takes note of the Presidency’s progress report. It calls on the incoming Presidency to continue that work and develop an orientation for the next stage of the negotiations, with a view to achieving an agreement in the European Council in autumn 2019.

IV. Other items

External relations

7. The European Council discussed preparations for the upcoming summit with the League of Arab States on 24 and 25 February 2019.

8. The European Council expresses its utmost concern regarding the escalation at the Kerch Straits and the Azov Sea and Russia’s violations of international law. It reconfirms its commitment to international law, the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine and the EU’s policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea. There is no justification for the use of military force by Russia. The European Council requests the immediate release of all detained Ukrainian seamen as well as the return of the seized vessels and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Straits. The EU stands ready to adopt measures to strengthen further its support, in particular in favour of the affected areas of Ukraine.

9. The European Council warmly welcomes the positive vote in the European Parliament on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and looks forward to its imminent entry into force.

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Special meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) (13 Dec ember 2018) – Conclusions | EU Council Press

1. The European Council reconfirms its conclusions of 25 November 2018, in which it endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration. The Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation.
2. The European Council reiterates that it wishes to establish as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future. It stands ready to embark on preparations immediately after signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations can start as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal.
3. The European Council underlines that the backstop is intended as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and ensure the integrity of the Single Market. It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements, so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
4. The European Council also underlines that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided. In such a case, the Union would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.
5. The European Council calls for work on preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal to be intensified, taking into account all possible outcomes.

MEPs agree on new rules to tax digital companies’ revenues | EU Parliament Press

  • List of taxable services: MEPs added supply of content via digital interfaces
  • Threshold of minimum taxable revenues within the EU lowered to €40 million
  • EP opinions adopted by overwhelming majority ahead of Council’s move

The plenary proposed widening the scope of the directives on taxing digital businesses operating in the EU.

The European Parliament adopted both its two opinions on the proposals for Council directives on the corporate taxation of a significant digital presence and a Digital Services Tax (DST) by an overwhelming majority.

Supply of digital content added to taxable services

MEPs added to the list of services that qualify as taxable revenues the supply of “content on a digital interface such as video, audio, games, or text using a digital interface”, regardless of whether the content is owned by that entity or if it has acquired the rights to distribute it. Online platforms selling digital content, such as Netflix, can therefore be taxed.

Lower threshold of taxable revenues made in EU

MEPs agreed to reduce the minimum threshold above which a company’s revenues are liable to be taxed. The rules would apply to any entity generating revenues within the EU of more than EUR 40 000 000 during the relevant financial year. The European Commission had proposed that this should be EUR 50 000 000.

Digital Services Tax: just a temporary solution

MEPs underlined that the DST is a temporary measure. Adopting the Significant Digital Presence, the Common Corporate Consolidated Tax Base or similar rules reached at the OECD or at UN level would be permanent solutions.

Quotes

The rapporteur on the Digital Services Tax Paul Tang (S&D, NL) said: ““Both the European Parliament and the European people want tech giants to pay their taxes. That is why we voted for a more ambitious digital service tax, also taxing revenues from online streaming services. We are talking about basic fairness, where everyone pays their fair share”.

The rapporteur on the Significant Digital Presence Dariusz Rosati (EPP, PL) said: “Taxes have to be paid where a company creates its value – irrespective of if it is a digital or a traditional enterprise. The quarrels and mutual vetoes in the Council lead to the EU being unable to tackle this problem. The European Union should be a trendsetter, while also continuing to work on an international solution at OECD level. It is high time to act!”.

Vote results

The report on the digital services tax directive was adopted with 451 votes in favour, 69 against and 64 abstentions.

The report on the corporate taxation of a significant digital presence directive was adopted with 439 votes in favour, 58 against and 81 abstentions

Next steps

The Parliament has a consultative role when it comes to taxation laws, (Art. 115 TFEU). Therefore, it will be up to the Council to decide by unanimity on the final content of the rules. The Parliament is pushing for an approval before the end of its mandate in April 2019.

Background

In July 2013, EU ministers agreed on the need to establish a common corporate tax base. The European Commission then split its previous 2011 proposal into two directives: a directive establishing a common corporate tax base (CCTB), and a directive on a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB). Both draft directives were tabled in October 2016 and are still awaiting Council’s agreement. In its resolutions, the European Parliament strongly supported this major reform of corporate taxation and introduced the notion of “digital presence” that would enable member states to tax digital companies.

In March 2018, the European Commission presented two distinct legislative proposals on a fairer taxation of digital activities in the EU. The first proposal (Corporate taxation of a significant digital presence), presented as the preferred solution, aims to reform corporate tax rules, so that profits are registered and taxed where businesses interact with users through digital channels. The second proposal (Digital Services Tax) is an interim tax which covers the main digital activities that currently escape tax altogether in the EU.

“InvestEU” programme: new boost for jobs, growth and investment | EU Parliament Press

  • Launchpad for investments which otherwise would have been difficult 
  • MEPs demand bigger EU guarantee: €40.8 billion to trigger €698 billion in investments 
  • Increased accountability and new objectives, like employment and climate protection 

Budgets and Economic Affairs committees adopted their position on a new EU programme to support investment and access to finance during 2021-2027.

The new InvestEU programme, approved on Thursday, follows and replaces the current EFSI (European Fund for Strategic Investments), set up after the financial crisis.

The two committees adopted improvements to the Commission proposal, including:

  • increasing the EU budget guarantee to €40.8 billion (current prices) to mobilise more than €698 billion of additional investment across the EU (Commission proposed €38 billion to mobilise €650 billion);
  • introducing a steering committee to ensure the right balance between policy and banking experience in governing the programme; an EP appointee will also sit on the committee;
  • to ensure better accountability to European citizens, the Commission and the Steering Board should report annually to Parliament and Council on the progress, impact and operations of the InvestEU Programme;
  • clearer and new objectives, such as increasing the EU employment rate, climate protection and economic, territorial and social cohesion.

The draft report was adopted with 52 votes in favour, 5 against and 3 abstentions.

Quotes

“InvestEU will mobilise almost 700 billion euros from 2021 to 2027, in infrastructure, research and innovation and support to SMEs. It is an excellent tool for creating jobs and strengthening the competitiveness of the European Union. It aims to foster inclusive growth and strengthens investment in the social dimension”, said José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), co-rapporteur for the Committee on Budgets.

“Today we adopted a good text that marks a decisive step towards creating jobs and mobilising investments to support growth and enhance cohesion. Investment in sustainable infrastructure, research and innovation is still inadequate; InvestEU can continue and improve the positive change brought about by the European Fund for Strategic Investment. It can help to bring strategic and long-term benefits to key areas that are underfunded and thereby improve the EU’s competitiveness and socio-economic convergence. We made sure that the InvestEU Fund would support social infrastructure and programmes, along with projects that are technically and economically viable. The programme should continue to facilitate access to finance for SMEs, the cultural and creative sectors and climate actions”, said Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), co-rapporteur and Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary affairs.

Next steps

Once the full house has confirmed the Committees’ position during the January session, MEPs will start negotiations with the Council.

Background

Despite numerous initiatives to remedy the situation, there is still an important investment gap in the EU. The InvestEU programme (part of the MFF 2021-2027 package “EU budget for the future”) aims to address this problem.

It aims to bring together the various EU financial instruments currently available (among others: EFSI, the CEF instruments, specific facilities under the COSME programme, as well as specific guarantees and facilities under EaSI) in order to benefit from economies of scale, and expand the Juncker Plan’s model (i.e. using guarantees from the EU budget to bring in other investors).

InvestEU will consist of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal (More information)

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future | EU Parliament Press

MEPs want €43.85 billion to be invested in continued development of trans-European transport, energy and telecom networks and to foster innovation with a €11.5 billion EU Defence Fund.

Connecting Europe Facility

The proposal to renew the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) between 2021 and 2027 to ensure continued development of trans-European transport, energy and telecom networks was approved by 434 votes to 134 against, and 37 abstentions.

A total budget of €43.85 billion in constant (2018) prices should be reserved for the Connecting Europe Facility, of which €33.51 billion will go to transport projects, €7.68 billion will fund energy network projects and €2.66 billion will be reserved for digital network development.

For more details on the vote on the Connecting Europe Facility, read the full press release here.

A €11.5 billion European Defence Fund

The proposal for the European Defence Fund for 2021-2027 financing to foster innovation was approved by 337 votes to 178 against, and 109 abstentions.

MEPs approved the proposal to allocate €11.5 billion in 2018 prices (€13 billion in current prices) to the EU Defence Fund for 2021-2027, aiming for a more ‘European’ approach to defence.

MEPs agreed that it will provide €3.62 billion in 2018 prices (€4.1 billion in current prices) to directly finance competitive and collaborative research projects, in particular through grants. Beyond the research phase, €7.84 billion in 2018 prices (€8.9 billion in current prices) will be available to complement member states’ investment by co-financing the costs for prototype development and the ensuing certification and testing requirements.

For more details on the vote on the European Defence Fund, read the full press release here.

Financing Horizon Europe research programme

The proposal for the 2021-2027 Horizon Europe rules for participation and desemination was approved by 548 votes to 70 against, and 49 abstentions. The proposal for the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe was approved by 569 votes to 74 against, and 20 abstentions

Parliament asked for an additional €36.5 billion (compared to the European Commission’s proposal) to be added to the programme budget, bringing the total to €120 billion in 2018 prices (€135.25 billion in current prices).

The Parliament wants to prioritise programmes that include women, SMEs or participants from lower-performing EU countries when deciding on two equally strong applications.

For more details on the Horizon Europe programme, read the full press release here

Financing green objectives through the LIFE programme

The proposal for the LIFE programme for 2021-2027 financing of environmental and climate objectives was approved by 580 votes to 41 against, and 45 abstentions. MEPs propose to double funding for the LIFE programme compared to the last 7-year period. The total financial envelope foreseen is €6.44 billion in 2018 prices (€7.27 billion euros in current prices compared to the Commission’s proposal of €5.45 billion).

The EU programme for the environment and climate action will contribute to mainstreaming climate action and to reaching an overall target of at least 25% of the EU’s budget expenditure supporting climate objectives over the 2021-2027 period.

Space and digital Europe programmes to be put to the vote tomorrow

The EU Space Programme

  • Debate: Wednesday evening
  • Vote: Thursday 12.00 – 14.00

The Digital Europe programme

  • Debate: Wednesday evening
  • Vote: Thursday 12.00 – 14.00

This press release will be updated online after these votes.

Next steps

The European Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with EU member states. MEPs want to agree on as much as possible on the MFF-related files as soon as possible, in order to avoid any serious setbacks in launching the new programmes due to late adoption, as experienced in the past.

European Citizens’ Initiative: Council and Parliament negotiators reach agreement on a set of improvements | EU

On 12 December 2018, the Austrian presidency and representatives of the European Parliament reached a provisional deal on changes to European Citizens’ Initiative.

A new regulation agreed between the Council and the Parliament includes a number of improvements aimed at making this instrument easier to use and widening participation.

The European Citizens’ Initiative offers an opportunity for everyone to engage directly with the EU decision-makers. I hope that this revision will encourage more Europeans, in particular young citizens, to be actively involved in shaping EU policies and laws which affect their lives.

Juliane Bogner-Strauss, Austrian Federal Minister for Women, Families and Youth

The changes include the introduction of a central online system for the collection of signatures, which will be freely available by 1 January 2020. The system will allow signatures collected on paper to be uploaded and offers e-ID for support. The Commission will involve stakeholders in its further development.

In order to allow for a smooth transition to the common system, individual collection systems can also continue to be used for initiatives registered before the end of 2022.

Other improvements include:

  • enhanced information and assistance to the organisers, including the creation of contact points in Member States and an online collaborative platform
  • the possibility of partial registration of initiatives
  • translation of initiatives and their annexes into all EU languages
  • enabling organisers to choose the start date of the 12-month collection period
  • allowing EU citizens to support an initiative regardless of their country of residence
  • extending the examination phase and providing for a more inclusive public hearing for successful initiatives

Initiatives can be signed by EU citizens whose age entitles them to vote in elections to the European Parliament. However, member states will have the possibility to set the minimum age at 16 years and are encouraged to consider doing so, in accordance with their national laws.

Next steps

The provisional agreement reached between the presidency and the Parliament will be submitted to the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) for approval on 19 December.

The regulation also needs to be voted in the European Parliament before final adoption by the Council next year.

Background

Under the EU treaties, the European Commission has the sole right of legislative initiative, with exceptions in only a few areas.

The European Citizens’ Initiative is an instrument of participatory democracy which enables one million EU citizens from at least one quarter of the member states to invite the Commission to propose a legal act in areas where it has the power to do so.

In the event of a successful European Citizens’ Initiative, the Commission is required to provide its answer in a communication setting out its legal and political conclusions on the initiative, the action it intends to take, if any, and its reasons for taking or not taking that action.

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Background brief – European Council meetings of 13 and 14 December 2018 | EU Council Press

Agenda highlights

The European Council on 13-14 December 2018 will focus on the EU’s long-term budget, single market, migration and external relations. EU27 leaders will also discuss Brexit on Thursday and the euro area on Friday.

At the start of the meeting, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, representing the Austrian presidency, will provide an overview of progress on the implementation of earlier European Council conclusions.

EU budget for 2021-2027

The European Council will have a first substantial exchange of views on the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework on the basis of a progress report by the presidency of the Council.

Single market

Following its conclusions of March 2018, and based on the Commission assessment of remaining barriers and options for action to tackle these barriers, the European Council will review the state of play regarding a fully functioning single market.

Migration

The European Council will return to the implementation of its comprehensive approach to migration, in accordance with its conclusions of June 2018.

Citizens’ Consultations

EU leaders will assess the outcome of Citizens’ Dialogues and Citizens’ Consultations held in the EU member states. The discussion will be based on the report prepared by the current and incoming presidencies, which identifies a number of concerns and expectations on the part of the citizens in terms of concrete results from the EU.

External relations

The European Council will discuss preparations for the upcoming summit with the League of Arab States on 24-25 February 2019.

In the light of events, the European Council may address other specific foreign policy issues.

Fighting disinformation

EU leaders will also revert to the issue of disinformation, on the basis of the action plan to be presented by the High Representative and the Commission, in cooperation with the member states and in line with its earlier conclusions.

Brexit

The EU27 leaders will meet on Thursday to discuss Brexit.

“We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario.”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

Euro Summit

EU leaders will discuss the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union on the basis of a report by the Eurogroup. 

The Euro Summit is expected to take concrete decisions and provide guidance on the way forward on EMU deepening.

Invitation letter by President Donald Tusk to the members of the European Council ahead of their meetings on 13 and 14 December 2018 | EU Council Press

We will meet on Thursday and Friday for the last European Council this year.

Given the seriousness of the situation in the UK, let me start with Brexit. The intention is that we will listen to the UK Prime Minister’s assessment, and later, we will meet at 27 to discuss the matter and adopt relevant conclusions. As time is running out, we will also discuss the state of preparations for a no-deal scenario.

Apart from Brexit, we will have a discussion about the EU’s budget for 2021-2027 (the Multiannual Financial Framework). Over the past months work has progressed speedily, and I propose that we aim for a deal next autumn.

As regards the Euro Summit we must deliver the concrete decisions we promised last June. Building on the outcome of the Eurogroup meeting we should endorse the decisions on ESM reform and the Banking Union. In order to keep strengthening the EMU, I propose we instruct finance ministers to work on a euro area budgetary instrument.

After the exchange of views with European Parliament President Tajani at 15.00 on Thursday, Chancellor Kurz will give an overview of progress in implementing conclusions. We will then discuss the Multiannual Financial Framework and adopt conclusions. At the end of the afternoon session, Prime Minister May will update us on Brexit. Following the break to brief the press we will discuss external relations and adopt foreign policy conclusions, including on the escalation in the Sea of Azov and the EU-League of Arab States summit. Chancellor Merkel and President Macron will report on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements with a view to rolling over the sanctions. After dinner, we will meet in the Article 50 formation to adopt Brexit conclusions.

On Friday, we will resume as EU28 to adopt the conclusions on the Single Market, climate change, migration, disinformation, the fight against racism and xenophobia, and citizens’ consultations. Finally, we will be joined by European Central Bank President Draghi and Eurogroup President Centeno for the Euro Summit in an inclusive format.

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