(SIBIU) – With the European Parliament elections only two weeks away, EU leaders met at a summit in Romania to begin a discussion on what sort of EU future they want to build if and when Brexit finally takes place.
The informal European Council brought together the EU heads of state or government under the Romanian EU presidency to focus on strategic plans for the Union in the coming years.
When the European elections have taken place, EU leaders will meet in Brussels on 28 May. There they will discuss the outcome of a vote many fear will result in a continuation of the rise of populism in Europe. They will also start the nomination process for the heads of the EU institutions.
President of the EU Council Donald Tusk said that with the world becoming “increasingly changeable and unpredictable”, the result of the discussion will come in June, when the European Council will adopt the EU’s priorities for the next five years, also known as the Strategic Agenda.
“Without prejudging the outcome of this debate – as it will also be influenced by the European Parliament elections – I can state one thing with complete certainty,” said Mr Tusk: “The leaders have categorically demonstrated that they want to take full political responsibility not only for single events or challenges, but for the European Union as a whole. Put simply, the member states and their democratically elected leaders want to actively shape the way the EU functions and develops.”
At the informal summit, EU leaders discussed the EU’s next strategic agenda for the period 2019-2024. They exchanged views on the challenges and priorities for the EU for the years to come. The discussions were divided in two parts: one on the external dimensions and one on the internal dimensions.
Mr Tusk said he would like the European Council to nominate the new EU leaders in June 2019.
“Naturally, this process will follow the rules set down in the Treaties. It should reflect geographical balance as well as demography, so that both large and smaller countries are represented in the highest positions in the EU,” he said.
The strategic agenda will be used to plan the work of the European Council, and form the basis for the work programmes of the other EU institutions.
The current agenda was agreed in June 2014 by the European Council. It focuses on five priority areas: jobs, growth and competitiveness; empowering and protecting citizens; energy and climate policies; freedom, security and justice; and the EU as a strong global actor.
With the summit taking place on Europe Day, the heads of state or government adopted the ‘Sibiu Declaration’ as a sign of their unity and confidence in the future of the EU.
The declaration states: “We reaffirm our belief that united, we are stronger in this increasingly unsettled and challenging world. We recognise our responsibility as leaders to make our Union stronger and our future brighter, while recognising the European perspective of other European States.”