EU leaders set vague ‘priorities’ for next five years

Migrant advocates. Hamburg, 2009. [Rasande Tyskar/Flickr]

EXCLUSIVE/ At the 26-27 June summit, EU leaders will adopt a four-page strategic blueprint which outlines the big political priorities for the next five years. EURACTIV has read the draft document.

The “Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change”,  added to the latest version of the Council Conclusions dating from today (23 June), is the result of the initiative of centre-left EU leaders who recently met in Paris to discuss the appointment of conservative Jean-Claude Juncker for the post of European Commission president, diplomats said.

>> Read: Socialist leaders back Juncker, want other top jobs

Reportedly, socialist leaders have asked Council President Herman Van Rompuy to add a more political text to the summit conclusions, charting the course for the next five years.

According to the draft, it is now time for EU leaders to set out their golas for the Union, including the functioning of the EU institutions, and sort out “the deepest economic crisis in a generation.”

The draft document says that EU leaders aim at “fully exploiting” the potential of the single market, promote a climate of entrepreneurship and job creation, invest and prepare the countries’ economies for the future, continue to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union and reinforce the global attractiveness of the Union.

The document may appear as a mixed wish-list, reflecting the priorities of different countries. The different goals appear as too general, and are not backed by concrete deadlines or benchmarks.

EU leaders commit to step up the fight against youth unemployment, tackle abuses in member states’ welfare systems, ensure that social protection regimes are fair for the future, better manage migration, prevent and combat crime and terrorism, and invest in security and defense cooperation.

Part of the text is dedicated to the goal of moving toward an Energy Union.

“To ensure our energy future is under full control, we want to build an Energy Union aiming at affordable, secure and green energy,” the draft document reads.

Poland has spearheaded efforts to set up a EU energy Union in recent months, especially in the context of the Ukraine crisis.

>> Read: Poland calls for EU energy union

But the idea of a new EU treaty to embark on a common energy policy has been advocated since 2010 by former European Commission President Jacques Delors and the then-European Parliament Polish President, Jerzy Buzek.

EU leaders are preparing for the 26-27 June regular Spring summit, the first day of which will be spent in in Ypres for a ceremony to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. The event will begin in the late afternoon, and will be followed by a dinner. The next day, leaders will hold working sessions in Brussels as usual.  

The commemorations this year of the centenary of World War I – still known as the “Great War” – are likely to reawaken the memories of a hesitant and divided Europe, reminiscent of its current handling of the Ukraine crisis.

Of the World War I battles, the largest and most costly in human suffering was the Third Battle of Ypres (21 July to 6 November 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele), in which nearly half a million soldiers from both sides died, and only a few miles of ground were won by Allied forces. During the course of the war the town was almost fully destroyed by artillery fire. Ypres was also one of the first places where chemical warfare was employed.

Almost half of the dead at Ypres were from British Commonwealth countries. Many Belgians, French and of course Germans died in Flanders Fields too.

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