European Council, 24-25 June 2021

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National Leaders from the Member States of the European Union (EU) gathered for a meeting of the European Council on 24-25 June 2021, which included a Euro Summit. The agenda comprised discussions on a number of matters, including the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the economic recovery, migration and external relations, fundamental values in the EU and the challenges for the Eurozone. This is an information guide compiled by the Cardiff EDC team.

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Concerning the pandemic, leaders welcomed the progress on vaccination and the overall improvement in the epidemiological situation. They also acknowledged the importance of the agreement on the EU Digital COVID Certificate and the revised recommendations on travel within and into the European Union. The Council vowed to take forward work to support boosting global production of and universal access to vaccines, and welcomed the decision by the World Health Assembly to set up a special session of discuss a Framework Convention on Pandemic Preparedness and Response. Finally, leaders discussed the initial lessons learnt from the pandemic, based on a report from the European Commission.

The Council discussed the migration situation on the various routes into the EU, considering the concern risen by the latest developments on some of them. Leaders argued for mutually beneficial partnerships and cooperation with countries of origin and transit to reduce pressure on external borders, as part of the EU's external actions. They also condemned the instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes. They urged the European Commission to take policy action in this field.

There was a discussion on the EU fundamental value of LGBTQI non-discrimination. Media outlets reported on a tense exchange between Hungary and some other Member States due to the country's latest legislative initiative banning the depiction or promotion of homosexuality to those under 18 years old.

Leaders also discussed on EU external relations with a number of countries:

  • On Turkey, leaders welcomed the de-escalation in the eastern Mediterranean region and highlighted the need to sustain it. They reiterated the EU's readiness to engage in a phase, proportionate and reversible manner, subject to established conditionalities set out in previous conclusions adopted by the European Council. They also took note of work at technical level concerning a mandate for the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union. The Council urged the Commission to put forward proposals for the continuation of Syrian refugees and host communities across the region. It also reaffirmed concerns regarding rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey.
  • On Libya, leaders confirmed their commitment to the stabilisation process under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).
  • The Council discussed bilateral relations with Russia and reaffirmed the commitment to a united, long-term and strategic EU approach based on five guiding principles. Leaders urged Russia to ensure the full implementation of the Minsk agreement as a key condition for any substantial change in the EU's stance. They highlighted the need for Member States to coordinate a response to any further disruptive activity by Russia and invited the Commission to present options for additional restrictive measures. The Council reaffirmed openness to selective engagement with Russia in areas of EU interest. It also condemned the limitations on fundamental freedoms in Russia and the shrinking space for civil society. Media outlets reported on diverging views between the Franco-German axis and some other Member States regarding re-engagement with Russian leadership.
  • On Belarus, the Council welcomed the timely implementation of the measures in line with previous Council conclusions. They repeated calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners.
  • The Council reaffirmed their call on the Malian transition authorities to fully implement the Transition Charter.
  • The Council condemned the atrocities, violence and human rights violations in Ethiopia's Tigray region. It called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to all areas and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces.

The European Council also condemned the latest malicious cyber activities against Member States.

Leaders reviewed the state of play on the implementation of the EU's Next Generation EU recovery plan. They welcomed the entry into force of the Own Resources Decision (ORD). They underlined the importance of full and timely implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs). They welcomed the targets of the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan, in line with the Porto DeclarationThey also endorsed the draft Council Recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

In the framework of the Euro Summit, leaders discussed the economic challenges for the Euro area in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis and reviewed progress on the Banking Union and Capital Markets Union (CMU).

The President of the European Council also presented the Indicative Leaders' Agenda 2021-2022.

The outcome of this European Council was discussed during a plenary session of the European Parliament on 7 July 2021.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
EPRS: Briefing, June 2021: Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders on 24-25 June 2021
Amnesty International: News, 24/06/2021: Joint NGO letter: EU leaders should put human rights at the centre of EU-Turkey relations
Euro|topics, June 2021: To talk or not to talk? EU divided on Putin policy
Euro|topics, June 2021: Merkel and Macron routed: EU opposes Putin meeting

Politico, 23/06/2021: As it happened: EU summit
Euronews, 24/06/2021: EU leaders blast Viktor Orbán over anti-LGBT bill during tense and at times emotional summit
Reuters, 24/06/2021: Franco-German call for Russia summit meets EU resistance
The Guardian, 24/06/2021: EU leaders to confront Hungary’s Viktor Orbán over LGBTQ+ rights
Kathimerini, 24/06/2021: Mitsotakis among EU leaders suporting LGBT rights amid concern over Hungary law
RFE/RL, 24/06/2021: EU Summit To Discuss Strategy For Relations With Russia, Kyiv Warns On Meeting Proposal
Bloomberg, 24/06/2021: Dutch Leader Challenges Hungary to Leave EU Over LGBTQ Spat
VOA News, 24/06/2021: Engage or Disengage? EU leaders Divided on Russia
RFI News, 24/06/2021: EU summit underway to discuss Covid, migration, relations with Turkey and Russia
Associated Press, 25/06/2021: EU leaders defend LGBT rights amid concern over Hungary law
Deutsche Welle, 25/06/2021: EU leaders fail to agree on a summit with Vladimir Putin
EUObserver, 25/06/2021: EU leaders confront Orbán on anti-LGBTIQ law
France24, 25/06/2021: EU leaders reject France, Germany's proposal for Putin summit, 25/06/2021: France, Germany drop plans for Russia summit after EU outcry
The Baltic Times, 26/06/2021: Europe can set conditions and requirements for Russia - PM Karins

Eurogroup: Letter of the President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, to the President of the Euro Summit, Charles Michel ahead of the 25 June Euro Summit (18 June 2021)
European Council: Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their meeting of 24 and 25 June 2021 (23 June 2021)
European Parliament: Press Release, 23/06/2021: EU summit: step up work for recovery, and update migration and asylum system
European Commission: Speech by Vice-President Šefčovič on behalf of President von der Leyen at the European Parliament Plenary on the preparation of the European Council and the relaunch of the Malta Declaration (23 June 2021)
General Secretariat of the Council: European Council, 24-25 June 2021
Conclusions of the European Council meeting, 24-25 June 2021
General Secretariat of the Council: Euro Summit, 25 June 2021
European Council: Remarks by President Charles Michel following the European Council meeting, 24-25 June 2021
European Commission: Opening remarks by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel and Prime Minister Costa following the meeting of the European Council of 25 June 2021
Finnish Government: Press Release, 25/06/2021: European Council discussed external relations, COVID-19 situation and migration
European Parliament: Press Release, 07/07/2021: MEPs call for the protection of fundamental values in the EU and worldwide
European Commission: Speech by President von der Leyen at the European Parliament Plenary on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 24-25 June 2021 (7 July 2021)
European Council: Report by President Charles Michel to the European Parliament plenary session (7 July 2021)

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