Shaping up the future of Europe
The process of nominating the new EU leadership will start on 28 MayMaria Koleva , Brussels
The leaders of EU27 displayed devotion and unity during their informal meeting to discuss the future of Europe, held on 9 May in the Romanian city of Sibiu. At a press conference after the six-hour sitting, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker conceded that it was the easiest European Council he has ever attended.
Praising the Romanian Presidency and especially the President of the country, Klaus Iohannis, for the preparation of the event “in the best possible way”, he referred to another reason as well - that “there was no urgent decision to take” and that this meeting was a trial run for the June European Council.
This extraordinary summit in Sibiu was proposed by President Juncker in September 2017 in his State of the Union speech, in order to discuss future actions for the years to come. The main aim was this gathering to be convened after the official Brexit Day - 29 March, and that is why British PM Theresa May was not invited to take part.
The host of the summit Klaus Iohannis stated that in Sibiu the leaders discussed about how they want to pursue and “where we want to take the European project further”. About the declaration adopted by the leaders, he commented: “I hope it will stay as an important benchmark, a landmark in the history of the European Union.”
In the declaration, the heads of state and prime ministers recognised their responsibility “to make our Union stronger and our future brighter”. In the same document, they unanimously agreed on 10 commitments that will help them live up to that obligation.
“We will defend one Europe - from East to West, from North to South. Thirty years ago, millions of people fought for their freedom and for unity and brought down the Iron Curtain, which had divided Europe for decades. There is no place for divisions that work against our collective interest,” is the first of the commitments. The next one says that they will stay “united, through thick and thin”. And will show each other solidarity in times of need and will always stand together. “We can and we will speak with one voice.”
We talked both about internal affairs as well as global challenges, bearing in mind that the world around us is becoming increasingly changeable and unpredictable, European Council President Donald Tusk said. The result of this discussion will come in June, when we will adopt the EU's priorities for the next five years, also known as the Strategic Agenda, he added.
According to him, 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, President Tusk said.
The European Council President intends to maintain this spirit of the discussion during the preparation of the EU's priorities for the coming years and in the process of nominating the new EU leadership. On 28 May, after the European Parliament elections, he will call a meeting of all 28 EU leaders, in order to start the nomination process. He disclosed that his intention is to carry out the election of heads of EU institutions “in a swift, smooth and effective manner”.
He expounded as well that this process will follow the rules set down in the Treaties. It should reflect geographical balance, demographics, and both large and smaller countries will be represented in the highest positions in the EU. Gender as well as political balance will be observed.
Of course, it would be best if we managed to reach consensus on all these decisions, he said, noting: “But we have to be realistic.” I will not shy away from putting these decisions to the vote, if consensus proves difficult to achieve. The aim is simple: we need effective institutions, and so we need swift decisions. His intention is for the European Council to nominate the new EU leadership in June.
Accenting on the unity of the Council, President Juncker asserted: “It was not just a facade, it was genuine unity and indeed the last five years we succeeded in acting together.” He recalled that 90% of the directive regulations, out of 340 proposed by the Commission, have been adopted unanimously by the co-legislator. Our Commission kept its promises “to be big on the big issues” and this approach will continue with the new leadership. A week ago, the Commission tabled its contribution to the debate in Sibiu, which also contained the next five-year strategic agenda.