Today and tomorrow, the spring European Council (EC) will be held in Brussels. Although the main focus will be put on economic affairs and trade, Heads of State or Government will address a number of current pressing issues, including taxation, the Western Balkans and Turkey. Following the recent declaration of the United States President, Donald Trump, regarding an increase of tariffs on steel and aluminium, the EU will affirm its commitment to free and fair trade, in a firm but proportionate response, in order to avoid a trade war. The current economic situation in the EU will also be discussed and conclusions will be adopted on this matter with the European Central Bank (ECB) President, Mario Draghi. Luis de Guindos, will also be formally appointed Vice President of the ECB.
Tonight, European leaders will debate on taxation of digital platforms, following a proposal made by the Commission, to tax up to 3% gross revenues of some activities of big companies in the digital field. Also, leaders will probably discuss the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK. In his invitation letter to the members of the EC, President Donald Tusk, condemns the attack and expresses the EU « full solidarity with the UK », adding that the European Union « should also continue to bolster [its] capabilities to address hybrid threats, including in the areas of cyber, strategic communication and counter-intelligence ».
In the wake of their informal meeting last February, leaders will also discuss recent evolutions in the relations with Turkey. Finally, the EC will discuss the Western Balkans, in anticipation of the summit to be held in Sofia on May, 17th. It will also be confirmed in these conclusions that the topic of enlargement will be examined by the Council in June. Moreover, Prime Minister Borissov, representing the Bulgarian presidency, will give an overview of progress made in the implementation of the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
For the second and last day of the summit, on Friday, EU leaders (only 27 without the UK) will also address Brexit. They will review progress on negotiations about the UK withdrawal, and agree on a future bilateral relationship framework. Finally, as part of the Eurozone summit, leaders of the euro area Member States will debate on the long-term development of our Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Heads of State or Government of the 19 countries of the Eurozone will discuss the possible creation of a specific budget capacity for the euro area.
For further information:
- consilium.europa.eu Conseil européen, 22-23/03/2018 – Principaux points de l’ordre du jour
- consilium.europa.eu Invitation letter by President Donald Tusk to the members of the European Council ahead of their meetings on 22 and 23 March 2018
- agenceeurope.eu Les Dix-neuf plancheront sur une capacité budgétaire pour la zone euro
- agenceeurope.eu Les Vingt-sept acteront les progrès réalisés sur l’accord de retrait britannique et plancheront sur les relations bilatérales post-Brexit