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European Council

Greater coordination of economic policy

The heads of state and government of the EU have agreed to complete the digital single market by 2015. Another item on the agenda of the European Council was youth unemployment. And the allegations that US intelligence agencies have been eavesdropping were also the subject of deliberations.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel im Gespräch mit Ratsteilnehmern Weitere Anstrengungen zur Stärkung von Wachstum, höherer Wettbewerbsfähigkeit und mehr Arbeitsplätzen notwendig Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

The heads of state and government of EU member states used the October summit meeting to discuss topical European issues in depth. The agenda included ways of strengthening competitiveness, developing the economic and monetary union and realising the banking union.

The digital agenda offers a huge potential for growth and employment. The heads of state and government of the European Union thus agreed to harmonise digital regulations and step up investment in this sector.

Capacity development is another important element. There was general agreement that school pupils, trainees and students must be prepared to cope with the challenges of the digital economy. The aim is to achieve a common digital market that will enable the states of Europe to act jointly. The Chancellor was calmly confident that this can be done by 2015.

The heads of state and government also agreed that Europe is serious about its moves to boost e-government and digital administration. This too is an important factor in competition.

Europe is emerging from the crisis

Summit participants noted that while economies in the EU are slowly recovering, greater efforts are needed to bolster growth, boost competitiveness and create jobs.

Innovation policy too must gather pace. Ideas and innovation must be translated more swiftly into marketable products and services. Research and innovation policy will thus be at the top of the 2014 agenda of summit participants.

Developing economic and monetary union

“We believe that the existing system of economic-policy coordination is inadequate, also in terms of the social dimension and the coordination thereof,” declared the Chancellor. Since there is a lack of funds and means of realising mandatory reforms effectively at European level, what we need is a “qualitative leap forward in the coordination of our economic policy”.

The Chancellor believes that member states should undertake to implement the recommendations of the European Commission. Currently the figure is only ten percent. “That is not enough for an economic and monetary union, especially for a monetary union,” explained Angela Merkel.

Fighting youth unemployment

The European Council has repeatedly explored ways of creating jobs for young people. The aim is to have the Youth Employment Initiative fully operational by January 2014. The next step is a conference on 12 November 2013 in Paris to follow up the Berlin youth employment conference held earlier this year.

Solidarity with refugees

The European Council announced its deep sorrow and regret in the face of recent tragic events in the Mediterranean. EU measures are to be stepped up to prevent any repetition. The Chancellor pointed out that no qualitative change is needed to European policy on asylum. What is important, is to step up cooperation with the countries of origin of refugees. The task force appointed by EU interior ministers is called on to identify priority actions.

Eastern Partnership Summit

The member states of the EU attach great importance to the Eastern Partnership. It is important for building a common area of democracy, prosperity and stability in Europe. The Chancellor declared her conviction that the Association Agreement with Ukraine can be signed at the Vilnius Summit. The EU’s expectations vis à vis Ukraine have been clearly laid out, she said.

Elaborating a framework for intelligence work

Another issue discussed was data protection and privacy in the EU and the activities of the NSA. All 28 member states expressed their concern. Germany and France announced bilateral talks with the USA. Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “Europe and the USA are partners, but this partnership must be based on trust and respect.”

Friday, 25. October 2013

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