EU Summit Wrap Up: Ukraine, Banking Union, Security and Defence

Written by | Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

When heads of state and government gathered for teh last time this year in Brussels on 19 and 20 December for a European Council Summit, security and defence as well as the economic and monetary union, along with a post-mortem on Ukraine’s apparent shun of closer ties, was very much high on the agenda were the main topics on the agenda. Apart from the still unfolding drama on the streets of Kiev, the two day summit also saw talks held on Central African Republic, where fresh fighting engulfed its capital, and also while the civil war in Syria was still raging and a long-waited-for shared economic recovery for the 28 nation bloc was taking place.
While repudiating a planned EU deal in favour of Russian financial assistance, the Ukrainian government drew the ire of many of its own people, with street protests engulfing Kiev. In Brussels, the European Council Summit gave a message that was somewhat milder, with one EU leader stressing that the door remains open to Ukraine, just perhaps not its current government. Commenting on the current ‘stand-off’ situation, José Manuel Barroso, European Commision President, said that “For the European, as the President of the European Council already stated, the offer of an association agreement including a deepen and comprehensive free trade area has always been precisely that: an offer, a proposition. It was never an imposition. And as we stated in Vilnius the European Union remains committed to the signing of the agreement.”
On other issues, EU leaders hailed the planned pan-European banking union, while stressing that arduous negotiations with European Parliament are widely anticipated. The final details on the banking union were ironed out by finance ministers meeting yesterday, but the negotiating teams failed to agree so-called “contractual arrangements” designed to push member states to reform their economies. The Summit also put Georgia, Moldova on fast track to the association with the European Union. Having learned the bitter lesson of procrastinating with Ukraine, which has put its EU association agreement (AA) on ice, EU leaders decided today to put Georgia and Moldova on a fast track to sign their respective association agreements by August 2014.
It has been more than 10 years since France and the UK launched the European Security and Defence Policy through the St Malo Declaration. The European Commission attempted to relaunch cooperation in 2007 with the objective to foster a more competitive European defence industry. For the first time in five years, EU leaders dedicated a European Council summit to defence and security policy, which had been kept under the carpet during the still lingering economic crisis. The outcome was far less ambitious than some EU member states may have expected, and leaders said in their final conclusions that they would bring up the issue again in the coming year.

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