Stockholm, Dec. 17(ChinaEuropeDialogue) — The main topics on the agenda at the European Council held on Thursday 16 December in Brussels were the COVID-19 pandemic, crisis management and resilience, energy prices, security and defence, migration, and external relations. The Euro Summit held in connection with the meeting focused on the state of the European economy. Prime Minister Sanna Marin represented Finland at the meeting.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson represented Sweden attended the European Council for the first time since she became Prime Minister two weeks ago.
The European Council called for increased vaccination coverage both in the EU and globally. Vaccination is crucial in the fight against the worsening pandemic. In this context, efforts are being made to overcome vaccine hesitancy, including by addressing disinformation. Vaccine solidarity also plays a key role in ensuring effective vaccine coverage even in the world’s poorest countries. The EU will continue its coordinated joint efforts, such as the harmonisation of EU Digital COVID Certificate practices. The European Council stressed that any restrictions affecting freedom of movement and the functioning of the Single Market must be based on objective assessments of the health risks.
The EU leaders also took stock of the good work that has been done in the Union to develop resilience and preparedness for future crises. Continuing this comprehensive work is a major priority.
The European Council stated that in a world of growing instability, the EU will take more responsibility for its own security and defence. The EU will promote its interests and values, and reinforce its resilience and
preparedness to tackle security threats and challenges effectively. With this goal in mind, the Strategic Compass sets out a common strategic vision over the next decade and makes best use of the entire EU toolbox. The European Council stated that cooperation between the EU and NATO is key to our overall security.
With regard to Ukraine, the European Council stressed the urgent need for Russia to de-escalate tensions caused by the military build-up along its border with Ukraine and by aggressive rhetoric. The European Council reiterated its full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stressed that any further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response.
The EU leaders strongly condemned the instrumentalisation of migrants by the Belarusian regime. The EU will continue to counter the hybrid attack launched by Belarus with a determined response. The EU will effectively protect its external borders and combat smuggling and trafficking, and is prepared to adopt additional restrictive measures following the adoption of the fifth package of listings. The European Council encourages diplomatic efforts and supports the Normandy format in achieving the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
The European Council noted the importance of addressing all migratory routes comprehensively. The Council called on the Commission and Member States to ensure that the action plans for countries of origin and transit are implemented without delay in cooperation with partner countries. It is also important to ensure effective returns for migrants who are not entitled to asylum.
The European Council also held a short Euro Summit in connection with its meeting. At the summit, the EU leaders discussed the state of the economy in Europe after hearing an overview of the situation by President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde. The Summit also took stock of progress in achieving the Economic and Monetary Union.