17 Dec 2014
EUROPEAN COUNCIL 18-19 DECEMBERBrussels Daily
BACKGROUND NOTE EUROPEAN COUNCIL –Thursday 18 and Friday 19 December in Brussels
The European Council, the first one to be chaired by its new president, Donald Tusk, will start at 16.00 on Thursday afternoon. It will do so with the traditional exchange of views with European Parliament president Martin Schulz.
The European Council will then dedicate its first working session to a main theme of the summit: improving the investment climate in Europe.
Over dinner on Thursday evening, the heads of state or government will discuss the situation in Ukraine involving Russia as well as EU support for the reform process in Ukraine.
Friday morning, leaders will have an opportunity to reconvene to wrap-up the discussions economic issues and adopt the conclusions.
The European Council will devote it first working session to investments. The leaders are expected to call for the setting-up of a European Fund for Strategic Investments and for a fast-track legislative procedure for its activation. The European Council is further expected call for measures to improve the regulatory environment for investments. Leaders are likely to underline the need to remove barriers in the internal market, especially in the field of services, to strengthen the multilateral trading system and to conclude bilateral trade agreement with important partners. The European Council should equally call on the Commission to present a proposal for an Energy Union, and on the Council and the European Parliament to step up work on proposals regarding the Digital Single Market. Efforts that should all have a positive effect on increasing investments in Europe.
The European Council will stress that the new focus on investment should be seen in the context of the overall EU strategy for jobs and for a lasting economic recovery in Europe. This includes the equally important efforts to intensify structural reforms – both at national and European level, and sound public finances.
For more information on the Commission proposal for the EU investment plan, see also the Commission website.
Leaders are also expected to call for advances in discussions on tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning.
The European Council is expected to agree a timeframe for the further work on closer coordination of economic policies in the Economic and Monetary Union.
The European Council is expected to evaluate the situation in Ukraine and have a strategic discussion on the implications of the Ukraine crisis and how this relates, in terms of EU policy, vis-à-vis Russia and the Eastern Partnership.
Leaders are also expected congratulate Ukraine on its new government and welcome its determination to carry out political and economic reform.
Ahead of the summit, the Council is expected to adopt additional sanctions in view of the continued illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
The EU continues to advocate full and swift implementation of the Minsk protocol as a step towards a sustainable political solution of the crisis, which needs to be based on respect for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU has repeatedly called on Russia to withdraw from eastern Ukraine, to stop supplying troops and equipment, to allow effective control of the border and to allow the OSCE to carry out its mission.
The EU supports the Ukrainian economy with a package including macro-financial assistance (up to € 1.6bn) and a state-building contract (up to € 355m).