Brussels, May 2 : Ahead of the meeting of EU27 leaders in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May 2019, the European Commission (EC) has set out a number of policy recommendations for how Europe can shape its future in an increasingly multipolar and uncertain world.
The Sibiu summit was called for by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, when he unveiled a roadmap for a more united, stronger and more democratic Union. With the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019 and the change of political leadership of the EU institutions that will follow, the time has come for new policy orientations and new priorities.
The EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The duty of every generation is to change the destinies of Europeans, present and future, for the better. To make good on our enduring promise of peace, progress and prosperity. The challenges we Europeans collectively face are multiplying by the day. For Europe to thrive, the EU's Member States must act together. I remain convinced that it is only in unity that we will find the strength needed to preserve our European way of life, sustain our planet, and reinforce our global influence.”
The EU has delivered in the past 5 years – by summer 2018, the Juncker Commission had tabled all of the legislative proposals it committed to at the start of its mandate and 348 of those 515 proposals have already been adopted or agreed by the European Parliament and Council during the current mandate.
In around 90pc of the cases, the final compromise was approved by consensus in the Council of Ministers, and thus supported by all 28 Member States. The European Commission listed today 20 key achievements, as well as 10 key proposals which remain ‘unfinished business', as they are still pending in Parliament and Council.
But the EU has to keep on delivering in the future. In the Commission’s view, future action should focus on the following five main dimensions:
1. Protective Europe: We should pursue our efforts to build an effective and genuine European Security Union and move towards a genuine European Defence Union to make defence cooperation within the EU the norm rather than the exception. We also need to be more proactive in managing migration. This requires comprehensive action at every level and a genuine EU approach built on the sharing of responsibility and on solidarity between Member States.
2. Competitive Europe: We need to upgrade, modernise and fully implement the single market in all its aspects. We need to focus research and innovation on the ecological, social and economic transitions and related societal challenges. We need to invest in key European digital capacities and work together to boost Europe-made and human-centric artificial intelligence. We need to continue to foster growth and ensure sustainable prosperity by deepening the Economic and Monetary Union. And we need to continue to support the transformation of the European labour market whilst ensuring its fairness.
3. Fair Europe: We must continue to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. We also need to work with Member States to achieve social inclusion and equality, including by addressing regional disparities, minorities' needs, gender issues and the challenge of an ageing population. We need to firmly uphold and promote the shared values on which the European Union is founded, such as the rule of law. We need a fair and modern taxation policy as well as high-quality, affordable and accessible health care and access to quality, energy-efficient affordable housing for all in Europe.
4. Sustainable Europe: We need to modernise our economy to embrace sustainable consumption and production patterns. We need to reinforce our efforts to fight climate change and reverse environmental degradation. We must transition towards a more resource-efficient circular economy by promoting green growth, bioeconomy and sustainable innovations. And we need to maximise the Energy Union's potential by addressing major remaining challenges including energy security, energy costs for households and businesses, and the impact on climate change.
5. Influential Europe: Europe needs to lead in the world through consistent and strong support for a multilateral, rules-based global order, with the United Nations at its core. The EU should also make it a priority to develop strong relations with close neighbours, based on a clear balance of rights and obligations. A strengthened international role of the euro would also increase Europe's economic and monetary sovereignty.
As both the priorities we set and the way we explain and engage with Europeans will be decisive in strengthening our Union, the Commission also made suggestions on how to better communicate the collective decisions.
European Citizens' Initiatives:
The EC decided today to register four new European Citizens' Initiatives: 'The fast, fair and effective solution to climate change', 'Ending the aviation fuel tax exemption in Europe', 'Cohesion policy for the equality of the regions and sustainability of the regional cultures' and 'PRO-NUTRISCORE'. At the same time, the Commission decided it cannot register a European Citizens' Initiative entitled 'Stopping trade with Israeli settlements operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory'. The initiative is legally inadmissible as it manifestly falls outside the Commission's powers to act according to the EU Treaties.
At this stage in the process, the Commission has not analysed the substance of the initiatives, but only their legal admissibility. Should any of the 4 registered initiatives receive 1 million statements of support within 1 year from at least 7 different Member States, the Commission will analyse it and react within 3 months. The Commission can decide either to follow the request or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning.
Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström debriefed the College on the latest developments in trade relations with the United States.
High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini informed Commissioners on the meeting held earlier in Berlin and which she attended with the Western Balkans' leaders, Slovenia and Croatia, organised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans debriefed the College on the latest developments on the rule of law in Poland and Romania.