Written by Suzana Elena Anghel, Stanislas de Finance, Ralf Drachenberg
This 25-26 June 2015 summit witnessed an intense debate. While the agenda originally covered Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), the digital single market and the European Semester, in addition to a presentation from David Cameron, United Kingdom Prime Minister to outline his vision on renegotiating his country’s relationship with the EU, the summit became a crisis Council. Many discussions again focused on the situation in the Mediterranean, with several lively exchanges. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel described the issue as the ‘biggest challenge’ Europe had faced during her time in office.
The Council’s conclusions nevertheless managed to address all issues on the agenda. The Heads of State or Government concentrated on three key dimensions of the European Commission’s agenda on migration: the relocation/resettlement of migrants; their return/readmission/reintegration; and cooperation with countries of both origin and transit. Clear differences in opinion persisted on the voluntary or mandatory nature of the relocation scheme, but agreement was reached on ‘the temporary and exceptional relocation, over two years, from the frontline Member States: Italy and Greece, to other Member States of 40 000 persons in clear need of international protection’.
Although the debate on CSDP fell short of its original ambition, the Council conclusions included a statement that the European Council ‘will keep security and defence policy on its regular agenda’, thereby clearly underlining the future importance of CSDP.
United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron’s presentation of his vision on renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU, did not outline any specific details, however, it provided an impetus for European level discussions on this issue, with Council President Donald Tusk seeing it as ‘the first step in a longer process that will also end at the European Council’. This issue is certain to reappear on the agenda for the Council meeting in December 2015.
The significantly shortened debate on the Commission communication on a Digital Single Market strategy for Europe, nevertheless led to Council conclusions calling for the rapid adoption of the Telecommunications Single Market Regulation, the Directive on Network and Information Security, and the Data Protection package. Heads of State or Government also stressed that action must be taken on key components of the Commission communication, such as eliminating mobile roaming charges. On this issue, on 30 June 2015, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, reached agreement to end roaming surcharges by 15 June 2017.