European Council: President Barroso welcomes agreements on Ukraine, climate and energy policy and tax
President Barroso has welcomed the ambitious common positions reached at the March European Council on Ukraine, climate and energy, and savings tax, all of which he said reinforced the EU's global ambitions.
At a press conference following the first day of the summit, President Barroso saluted the "strong and united determination" of EU leaders to support Ukraine and make clear to Russia "that there will be consequences for some of the kind of behaviour that we think is simply unacceptable in the 21st century".
EU leaders at the European Council asked the Commission to:
- evaluate the legal consequences of the annexation of Crimea and propose economic, trade and financial restrictions for rapid implementation.
- prepare possible targeted measures for relations in a broad range of economic areas in case of any further steps by the Russian Federation to destabilise the situation in Ukraine
On the second day of the summit, 21 March, the EU and Ukraine signed the political provisions of an Association Agreement. "This political partnership delivers on the democratic choice Ukraine has made," President Barroso said. "We will help Ukraine to reform and be the stable, sovereign, democratic, and prosperous country its people long for."
The President explained that the Commission would also continue to roll out its planned €1.6 billion in financial assistance for Ukraine – part of an €11 billion package – as well as autonomous trade measures that will open the EU market to Ukrainian products. He added that it was the EU's "firm intention" to sign the remaining parts of the Association Agreement with Ukraine "in due course". He has asked Commissioner Füle, responsible for enlargement and neighbourhood policy, to go to Kiev next week to work with the Ukrainian authorities on these issues.
"Europe is committed to Ukraine for the long term," he said. "We will help Ukraine to reform and consolidate its independence and sovereignty."
The EU has also agreed to bring forward the signature of Association Agreements (including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements), with Georgia and Moldova, setting a target signature date in June.
Climate and energy
"The discussions on Ukraine also reflect the importance of a stronger and truly European energy policy, a policy that strengthens our energy security and competitiveness, and lowers our reliance on imported fossil fuels," President Barroso said.
With that in mind, EU leaders had a first discussion on the Commission's climate and energy proposals to 2030. President Barroso showed that the EU will achieve its 2020 climate and energy targets and should commit to further targets up to 2030.
"I was happy that the European Council, after very comprehensive discussions, has agreed that - already for the UN climate summit in September - we will be sure that the specific European Union target for 2030 for greenhouse gas emission reductions will be fully in line with the agreed ambitious European Union objective for 2050," President Barroso said.
While the European Council was never expected to agree on concrete targets for 2030, President Barroso said he was happy with the fact that the EU leaders have a clear "endorsement of the European Commission's proposal as the basis for our policy in the future".
He explained that the EU's climate and energy policy was based on three goals: "Security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability". "We should not see these as contradictory," he said. "We have already been diversifying our supplies and suppliers over the last years, for instance, with the adoption of this southern corridor. And we have been doing it not just because it is beneficial for the European economy, but also for reasons of a geopolitical nature."
He added that "we definitely need to go much further" and welcomed the clear determination by EU leaders to further diversify energy supplies. "That, I think, was one of the new facts in today's discussions."
On the economy, President Barroso said it was clear that "recovery is there, but we have to work to make sure that the recovery will last". He urged Member States to keep up the pace of economic reforms to address the "serious impact" of the crisis on "many aspects of our economic and social life".
He also welcomed two agreements that show the EU is committed to making the recovery as fair as possible.
- The President said the Single Resolution Mechanism for banks, agreed by the European Council and Parliament on 20 March, would ensure that "in the future, it is banks who will pay for their own failures, not taxpayers".
- He hailed the agreement by EU leaders on the Savings Tax Directive. "It took six long years of negotiations, but we did it. We are bringing an end to banking secrecy in Europe. And we will be in a strong position to negotiate with key international financial centres. I hope we can achieve real progress in this matter by the end of this year."
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