EU leaders met in Brussels on 19 and 20 March. They focused on the major strategic challenges facing Europe: endorsing plans for an Energy Union, delivering growth and jobs, and dealing with instability on our borders.
Press conference by President Juncker and President Tusk
Energy Union endorsed
Following a presentation by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker i, EU leaders (the European Council) endorsed and supported the Commission's ambitious plans for an Energy Union, set out on 25 February. This is a fundamental transformation of the EU's energy market, reforming and reorganising for energy that is integrated, interconnected, affordable, resilient, secure and increasingly clean. The Council highlighted the importance of all 5 mutually reinforcing and interrelated areas of the Commission's strategy.
Citing the 4 fundamental freedoms set out in the EU Treaties (free movement of people, goods, services and capital), President Juncker noted that "We are adding a fifth freedom - the free movement of energy in Europe… these are epoch-making decisions".
Delivering growth and jobs
The European Council also discussed the economy, in particular of the euro area. It noted that recovery is on its way. But, in the words of President Juncker, "The general economic conditions have improved. But we must make use of this respite to relaunch the process of structural reforms — reforms which remain needed to build the medium-term growth potential of the European economy."
The Council endorsed the Commission's economic strategy, focused on the three pillars of investment, structural reform and fiscal responsibility. And it took a number of additional steps to strengthen growth and jobs in Europe.
It discussed the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). All EU governments support the call for an ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial deal to be agreed by the end of 2015.
And it noted progress with EU's €315 billion Investment Plan - calling for the European Fund for Strategic Investments to be fully deployed by mid-2015.
The European Council also discussed the situation beyond our borders: as instability in Europe's neighbourhood affect us all, with implications for energy, migration and more.
In Russia/Ukraine, our ultimate goal remains a sustainable political solution to the crisis, respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine; leaders called on all parties to swiftly and fully implement the Minsk Agreements.
Ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, the Council committed to strengthening, in a differentiated way, relations with its eastern partners — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.
On Libya, the European Council called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and for a government of national unity, and is committed to ongoing UN efforts. The Council also welcomed the Commission's plans for a European Agenda for Migration, due in May.
The Council also condemned the appalling terrorist attack against Tunisia this week. It extended its deepest sympathy to the victims, their families and the Tunisian people, and held one minute of silence in tribute.