European Council President Tusk outlines the main highlights of the December meeting of the Council: Brexit, completing EMU and the single market, migration, terrorism and how to keep Schengen alive, among others. Commission President Juncker talks afterwards about Brexit and other European issues.
The December European Council debated in fact all the major crises that confronted Europe in 2015. Whether it was the migration and refugee crisis, EMU reform or Brexit, in all of these discussions we made some progress but for sure not enough. Let us have no doubt that 2016 will also be overshadowed by these challenges. Our community is experiencing a stress test. And what is most challenging is that we are being tested on all possible fronts at the same time. Today, let me say it loud and clear. I will not rest until we work out solutions to all these challenges. Our strength comes from our unity. Therefore keeping European unity will continue to be my main goal in 2016. [...]
Dear members, let me turn to the UK. In December, leaders had a substantive and constructive discussion on the UK question. Prime Minister Cameron set out his position in detail, in particular regarding benefits and free movement. He explained his request for a model based on four years and reiterated the openness to alternative solutions but only if they achieve the same objective. Leaders voiced their concerns on specific issues, but also demonstrated willingness to look for compromises. Building on this positive debate, we agreed to work together to find solutions in all four baskets raised by PM Cameron: relations with the euro area, sovereignty, competitiveness and on benefits and free movement. Hard work on all these baskets is progressing and as we speak my people are working with the Commission to bring us closer to the solution. In the run-up to the February European Council, I will table a concrete proposal for a deal with the UK to all EU leaders. Let me stress again that from the very beginning of these negotiations I have been very clear. There will be no compromise on fundamental values like non-discrimination and free movement. At the same time I will do everything in my power to find a satisfactory solution, also for the British side. As of today the result of the referendum is more unpredictable than ever before. Time is of essence here. And this is why I will work hard to strike a deal in February. It will not be easy but it is still possible. [...]
Last, but certainly not least, the European Council addressed economic challenges. Leaders confirmed their commitment to work towards completing EMU further based on the Five Presidents' report. Even if Europe is overwhelmed by the migration crisis, we cannot afford to wait with the necessary EMU reforms for better days. In this spirit ministers were asked to advance their work rapidly on a number of areas, including the banking union.
The European Council also emphasised the importance of deepening the single market in key areas. Delivering a digital single market and building a capital markets union are our top priorities.
Speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker – EP Plenary session – Conclusions of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 December 2015
Regarding the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union, the European Council held a constructive debate on the four baskets that the British government set out. Let me underline what I said at the time: none of these four baskets are simple and easy to address. We are treating each of them seriously.
But let me also underline that the Commission, as I said before, wants a fair deal for Britain. The Union is stronger with Britain inside, and Britain is stronger inside the Union. That is why we do think that the deal we are seeking has to be a fair deal for the European Union too. The Commission is working together with the colleagues and representatives of the Council into that direction.
© European Council
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