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EU, without Poland, agrees to aim for climate neutrality by 2050

EU, without Poland, agrees to aim for climate neutrality by 2050

Marin - Michel - von der Leyen - Photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - EU leaders, not including Poland, endorsed Friday the objective of making the EU climate-neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris agreement, as they ended their two-day summit in Brussels.

At the summit, EU leaders discussed climate change, the EU's long-term budget and external relations, as well as economic and monetary union and, on the day British PM Boris Johnson won endorsement of his Brexit strategy in an election, Brexit.

On climate change, the leaders endorsed the objective of making the EU climate-neutral by 2050, underlining that the transition to climate neutrality will bring significant opportunities for economic growth, markets, jobs and technological development.

"After the European Green Deal announced yesterday by the Commission, after the COP 25, we take this strong commitment," said new Council president Charles Michel: "we want Europe as the first climate-neutral continent."

However, Poland said it could not, at this stage, commit to implementing this objective, so the European Council will have to come back to the issue in June next year.

The European Council took note of the Commission communication on the European Green Deal and asked the Council to take work forward.

Leaders recognised the need to put in place an enabling framework to ensure a cost-effective, as well as socially balanced and fair transition to climate neutrality, taking into account different national circumstances.

The Council underlined that the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) will significantly contribute to climate action. Tailored support for regions and sectors most affected by the transition will be made available from the 'Just Transition Mechanism'.

All relevant EU policies need to be in line with the climate-neutrality objective and the Council invited the Commission to examine whether existing rules, including on state aid and public procurement, require adjustment. It also asked the Commission to report regularly on the environmental and socio-economic impact of the transition to climate neutrality.

EU leaders acknowledged the need to ensure energy security and to respect the right of the member states to decide on their energy mix and to choose the most appropriate technologies. Some countries have indicated that they use nuclear energy as part of their national energy mix.

Finally, leaders invited the Commission to prepare:

  • a proposal for the EU's long-term strategy as early as possible in 2020 with a view to its adoption by the Council and its submission to the UNFCCC
  • after a thorough impact assessment, a proposal for an update of the EU's nationally determined contribution (NDC) for 2030 under the Paris Agreement

On the long-term EU budget, the European Council discussed the main features of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. This followed the presentation of the MFF negotiating box with figures by Finland's presidency.

EU leaders called on the European Council President Charles Michel to take the negotiations forward with the aim of reaching a final agreement.

Regarding relations with Russia, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron informed the leaders about the implementation of the Minsk agreements, following the meeting in Normandy format on 9 December 2019 in Paris. EU leaders have agreed to roll over the economic sanctions on Russia for another 6 months.

The EU leaders also discussed relations with Turkey, in light of Turkey's actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. They reconfirmed previous Council conclusions condemning Turkey's illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. They also denounced the Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions and reaffirmed their full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus on this matter.

Regarding trade, the European Council reiterated its full support for the global rules-based international order and noted with concern the paralysis of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) mechanism for settling disputes.

Leaders supported the Commission's efforts to set up interim arrangements with third countries while actively pursuing a permanent solution. In that connection, the Council called on the European Parliament and the Council to examine the Commission's proposal to adapt the EU legislation referring to the EU's rights under international trade agreements.

Finally, regarding Brexit, the EU27 leaders discussed Brexit and preparations for the negotiations on future EU-UK relations after the withdrawal. They reconfirmed their aim of establishing as close as possible future relationship with the UK and welcomed the Commission's decision to reappoint Michel Barnier.

European Council conclusions, 12 December 2019

Statement of the Euro Summit, 13 December 2019

European Council (Art. 50) conclusions, 13 December 2019

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