European Council, 10-11 December 2020

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Publication Date December 2020
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EU National leaders gathered for a meeting of the European Council on 10-11 December 2020. A Euro Summit in an inclusive format was also held on 11 December.

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European Council

At the summit, leaders reached an agreement on issue concerning a draft Regulation on a general regime of conditionality in relation to the EU budget, linking respect for rule of law to access to budget funds . This matter was raised by a number of Member States in the framework of the negotiations relating to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027.

EU leaders discussed the epidemiological situation in Europe in the context of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, and welcomed the latest announcement concerning the vaccines and the common advance purchase agreements concluded by the European Commission. They agreed to enhance the sharing of experiences and plans for the future and prepare for a gradual lifting of restrictions and a return to normal travel. The European Council also underlined the need to work on increasing resilience in the area of health, and argued for the development of a coordinated approach to vaccination. The European Commission was invited to present a proposal for a Council Recommendation on a common framework for rapid antigen tests and for mutual recognition of test results.

The European Council endorsed a binding target for the European Union (EU) of a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990). The European Commission was invited to table a legislative initiative for an EU green bond standard, and to assess how economic sectors can best contribute to the target and make the necessary proposals.

Leaders condemned the latest terrorist attacks across Europe and reaffirmed their unity in the fight against terrorism, radicalisation and extremism. They welcomed the Commission's Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU, called for the full use of European databases and information systems and underlined the importance of ensuring all persons crossing EU external borders are checking against relevant databases.

The summit also held a discussion on the bilateral relations between the European Union and the United States of America. Following up on its conclusions from October 2020, the European Council analysed the relations between the EU and Turkey, in light of the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. Leaders invited the Council of the European Union to adopt additional restrictive measures in view of Turkey's drilling activities in the region. The European Council also invited the European Commission to investigation potential measures preventing commercial electricity imports from third countries' nuclear facilities that do not fulfil EU recognised safety levels. Finally, leaders adopted the adopted by the Council of the European Union of an EU global human rights sanctions regime.

Euro Summit

The President of the Eurogroup reported on the state of progress of the Banking Union. Leaders welcomed the agreement on the reform of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and invited the Eurogroup to prepare a plan on all remaining elements needed for the completion of the Banking Union. They also called for progress on the European Commission's New Action Plan for the Capital Markets Union (CMU).

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Commentary and Analysis
GMFUS: Blog, 09/12/2020: European Leaders Meet to Address Turkey, U.S. Relationship, Rule of Law
Bertelsmann Foundation: Projects: Opinion Piece, 09/12/2020: Not up for debate: democracy and the rule of law in the EU
EPRS: Briefing, December 2020: Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders on 10-11 December 2020
Euronews, 10/12/2020: EU summit in Brussels: Five key things to look out for
Euro|topics, December 2020: Veto row in the EU: close to an agreement?
Deutsche Welle, 10/12/2020: German-led EU summit reaches budget deal — what's next?
Euro|topics, December 2020: EU imposes new Turkey sanctions
BBC News, 12/12/2020: Brexit: EU leaders close ranks as no-deal talk mounts
EUObserver: Opinion, 14/12/2020: The rule-of-law deal that saved Merkel's legacy
Euro|topics, December 2020: Green light for EU budget and coronavirus package
CEPS: In Brief, 17/12/2020: The European Council’s compromise on the Rule of Law Regulation. Capitulation to illiberal states or misplaced expectations?

EurActiv, 09/12/2020: African leaders nix EU-AU summit as tensions simmer
Reuters, 09/12/2020: EU leaders unblock 1.8 trillion euro budget, recovery fund, eye climate goals
EurActiv, 10/12/2020: EU leaders unlock historic €1.8 trillion budget deal
Reuters, 10/12/2020: After heated debate, EU to prepare new sanctions over Turkish gas drilling
EurActiv, 11/12/2020: EU clinches hard-fought deal on 2030 climate target
Deutsche Welle, 11/12/2020: EU leaders back sanctions on Turkey over gas drilling
The Guardian, 11/12/2020: UK to stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects
Associated Press, 11/12/2020: EU leaders agree to reduce emissions after all-night talks
Politico, 11/12/2020: ‘Rather exhausted’ EU leaders sign off on higher 2030 climate goals
EurActiv, 11/12/2020: Merkel and Borissov blocked EU sanctions against Turkey at summit: sources
Kathimerini, 11/12/2020: After heated debate, EU to prepare limited new sanctions over Turkish gas drilling
EurActiv, 11/12/2020: EU capitals requests framework for cross-border renewable energy
RTÉ News, 11/12/2020: EU leaders agree target to cut emissions by 55% by 2030

Euro Summit, 11 December 2020
Eurogroup: Letter from President Donohoe to President Michel ahead of the 11 December Euro Summit, 4 December 2020
European Council: Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their meeting on 10-11 December 2020
European Council conclusions, 10-11 December 2020
Statement of the Euro Summit, 11 December 2020
European Council: Statement by President Charles Michel at the end of the European Council meeting and Euro summit on 10 and 11 December 2020
European Commission: Opening remarks by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel and Chancellor Merkel following the European Council meeting of 11 December 2020

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