you're reading...
Economic and Social Policies, Institutional and Legal Affairs, International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

The European Council in 2016: Overview of decisions and discussions

Written by Suzana Elena Anghel Gavrilescu, Izabela Cristina Bacian, Ralf Drachenberg and Susanna Tenhunen,

The European Council in 2016: Overview of decisions and discussions

Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com

The European Council held five formal meetings in 2016. The analysis of the conclusions of the debates shows that it dedicated 50 % of its attention to migration. The two other main topics were foreign and security policy; and economic governance, competitiveness, and trade, each attracting 20 % of the leaders’ attention.

Taking migration as a case study, it shows that within one year, the European Council was able to move from setting strategic priorities to deliberating and/or endorsing concrete measures, while finally concentrating on follow-up activities by acknowledging the adoption or implementation of concrete actions. It also showed that the European Council has shifted its focus from the Western Balkans route to the Central Mediterranean, based on rapidly changing developments on the ground.

Agenda items constitute the building blocks of policies and the European Council deals with them in a flexible manner. For example, Libya was discussed in some instances within the framework of the migration debate and in other cases as part of the foreign policy debate. Similarly, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), was discussed both in the migration debate, and also in the context of internal security. The Heads of State or Government discussed external security (defence) both as part of the foreign and security policy debate and as part of a broader debate on security, thus reflecting the internal and external security nexus.

This In-depth Analysis confirms last year’s finding that certain agenda items, particularly in the foreign policy realm, are difficult to include when the ‘Annotated draft agenda’ is published, which is almost six weeks ahead of a European Council. Sometimes topics for discussion are added later, and their inclusion on the agenda is confirmed only days before the start of the European Council, at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting.

The analysis also shows the recurrence of certain political messages. For example, in the case of migration, the Heads of State or Government repeatedly called for the implementation of the relocation and resettlement regulations. With respect to Syria, EU leaders recognised the dramatic humanitarian situation on many occasions, and called for humanitarian access within the country. When dealing with economic governance, the European Council repeatedly underlined the importance of deepening and modernising the single market.

The European Council’s focus on Europe’s economy included the performance evaluation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the proposal to extend it; upgrading the Single Market; and EU support for Member States in tackling youth unemployment. EU leaders also discussed trade issues at greater length than in 2015, focusing on trade defence instruments and free trade agreement negotiations in particular. This focus reflects important changes in international trade, such as rising protectionist tendencies and global overcapacity in certain industrial sectors. Even within the EU, the signature of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) fuelled a broad debate over the future of trade policy, particularly on certain provisions, which have been met with resistance in several Member States.

Continued United Kingdom (UK) membership of the European Union was the focus of the February 2016 European Council. The EU’s leaders reached an agreement, conditional upon a UK vote for the country to remain in the EU, which would (and indeed did), become void following the 23 June 2016 referendum in the UK to leave the EU. The referendum result had an impact on the functioning of the European Council, as it introduced a twin-track approach, with EU-28 and EU-27 meetings. The EU-28 focused on developments linked to the above-mentioned policy topics, whilst the EU-27 concentrated on the future of the EU and on the procedural arrangements for the negotiation process, which would follow the United Kingdom’s notification to leave the EU under Article 50 TEU. The EU-27 met three times in an informal format. Most progress was achieved in September 2016 in Bratislava, when EU leaders adopted a Declaration and Roadmap diagnosing the EU’s problems and laying the groundwork for an EU at 27, in addition to steering short and medium-term EU policy.


Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘The European Council in 2016: Overview of decisions and discussions‘.

About ECOS

The European Council Oversight Unit within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS)monitors and analyses the delivery of the European Council in respect of the commitments made in the conclusions of its meetings, as well as its various responsibilities either in law or on the basis of intergovernmental agreements.

Discussion

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The European Council in 2016: Overview of decisions and discussions | Vatcompany.net - July 14, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

High Level Conferences
EU Legislation in Progress
Topical Digests
EPRS Podcasts

Visit the European Parliament page on

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,354 other followers

Disclaimer and Copyright statement

The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. Copyright © European Union, 2014. All rights reserved

%d bloggers like this: