15 Dec 2017


Brexit, Brussels, Brussels Daily

Main results

On 14 December, EU leaders adopted conclusions on security and defence, social issues, education and culture, climate change, and Jerusalem.

On 15 December, EU27 leaders assessed the progress of Brexit negotiations and agreed it was sufficient to move to the next phase. They adopted guidelines for the second phase of the Brexit negotiations.

EU27 leaders also discussed the future of the economic and monetary union and the banking union during the Euro Summit.


EU leaders welcomed the launch of the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on defence. They stressed the importance of quickly implementing the first joint projects.

“For many years, the strongest argument against PESCO had been the fear that it would lead to the weakening of NATO. But it is quite the opposite. Strong European defence naturally strengthens NATO. This is why PESCO is not only good news for us, but it is also good news for our allies. And bad news for our enemies.”

President Tusk’s remarks at the event on PESCO

The European Council called for the adoption in 2018 of:

  • the European defence industrial development programme, in view of financing the first capability projects in 2019
  • a Council recommendation on a new instrument for capacity building in support of security and development after 2020

EU leaders expect the Council to complete the reform of the Athena mechanism. This is the instrument used for financing common costs of EU military missions and operations.

The European Council also discussed EU-NATO cooperation. Leaders called for the full implementation of the joint actions, including the additional ones agreed on 5 December 2017.

Social issues, education and culture

EU leaders exchanged views on social issues, education and culture. Their discussion built on the Leaders’ Agenda debate on culture and education as well as the Social Summit, which took place in Gothenburg in November 2017.

EU leaders highlighted priorities to further develop the EU’s social dimension, such as:

  • implementing the European pillar of social rights at the EU and national level
  • facilitating a well-functioning social dialogue at all levels
  • making progress on pending social files at EU level
  • following up on the priorities of the EU action plan to tackle the gender pay gap

They also agreed to do more in the field of education and culture, including the following priorities:

  • making the Erasmus+ programme broader and more inclusive
  • enabling students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries
  • ensuring that more young people speak at least two foreign European languages
  • promoting cooperation on mutual recognition of higher education and school leaving diplomas at secondary education level

The Commission is invited to present, where relevant, proposals in spring 2018 with a view to adoption by the Council as soon as possible.


EU leaders held a debate on the external and internal dimensions of the EU migration policy. They assessed what has and has not worked in the past two years, and discussed how to strengthen the policy.

The discussion aimed, amongst others, to pave the way towards an agreement on the reform of the asylum system by June 2018:

“Mandatory quotas remain a contentious issue, although its temperature has decreased significantly. If only for this reason, it was worth raising this topic. Will a compromise be possible? It appears very hard. But we have to try our very best. We will assess progress in this respect in March, while the leaders want to make decisions in June.”

President Tusk’s remarks following the European Council meetings on 14 and 15 December 2017

The debate was based on a note circulated by President Tusk ahead of the summit, which focused on:

  • preventing mass arrivals at the external borders
  • tackling root causes of migration
  • resolving internal deadlocks that hamper policy development


EU leaders reaffirmed their firm commitment to the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.


The European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, reviewed the latest developments in the Brexit negotiations.

EU27 leaders agreed that sufficient progress has been achieved in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.

On this basis, they adopted the draft guidelines to move to the second phase of negotiations where they will also start discussions on:

  • a transition period
  • the framework for the future relationship

” Opening the second phase of our negotiations wouldn’t be possible without the unity of the EU27, the hard work of Michel Barnier and the constructive effort of Prime Minister May. As for the framework for future relations, it is now time for internal EU27 preparations and exploratory contacts with the UK, to get more clarity on their vision.”

President Tusk’s remarks following the European Council meetings on 14 and 15 December 2017

Euro Summit

The Euro Summit discussed the future of the economic and monetary union (EMU) and banking union.

“The summit participants agreed with my proposal that in the next 6 months, the work of our finance ministers should concentrate on areas where the convergence of views is the greatest.”

President Tusk in his remarks following the European Council meetings on 14 and 15 December 2017

EU leaders exchanged views on how to ensure that the EU has the appropriate means to face potential economic shocks.

The debate built up on a note circulated by President Tusk ahead of the summit as part of the Leaders’ Agenda. This note outlined a number of ideas on which there is a broad convergence, such as:

  • putting into operation a common backstop for the Single Resolution Fund, possibly in the form of a credit line from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM);
  • further developing the ESM, possibly to become a so-called European Monetary Fund
  • further developing the Ecofin Council Roadmap of June 2016 on completing the banking union, including the gradual introduction of a European Deposit Insurance Scheme
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