On day two, the European Council held a full debate on trade policy, starting with its importance for jobs and growth and the need to quickly modernise the EU's trade defence instruments.
The European Council assessed the state of play of on-going negotiations with the EU's main partners. It underlined the importance of a "swift decision" to sign and provisionally apply CETA, and encouraged further negotiations with a view to finding a solution as soon as possible. Speaking at the post-Summit press conference, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, underlined that CETA was the "best agreement" the EU had ever concluded. The EU and Canada aim to sign the agreement at their Summit on 27 October.
As part of a broader debate on the EU's trade defence instrument, the European Council welcomed the Commission communication, 'Towards a robust trade policy for the EU in the interest of jobs and growth', which was adopted on 18 October. President Juncker said, "While we remain fervent supporters of free trade - but free trade has to be fair - we must not abstain from using trade defence instruments, because others certainly don't […] We need to defend our industry, which is as much a social concern."
The first day of the Summit, on 20 October, dealt with migration and external relations.
Speaking about the new migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit, which the Commission proposed in June this year, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said, "In the last four months we made substantial progress, because we were able to put into place a new working method; we have changed the terms of our dialogue with partner countries, and we have opened new avenues for managing jointly with them migration challenges. We are pursuing this important piece of work."
The European Council welcomed the launch of the European Border and Coast Guard, which became operational on 6 October, only nine months after the Commission put the proposal on the table. Member States are now deploying staff and equipment so that the Guard can offer rapid reaction teams by the end of the year.
On the strengthening of the EU's external border, EU leaders called for swift adoption of the revised Schengen Borders Code, which will enforce systematic controls on all travellers crossing EU external borders. They now look forward to the Commission's proposal to set up a European Travel Information and Authorisation System, which will allow for advance security checks on visa-exempt travellers.
The EU-Turkey Statement continues to deliver tangible results - since the agreement came into force, the number of daily arrivals on the Greek islands has averaged only 95 - but the European Council called for further efforts to accelerate returns from the Greek islands to Turkey.
In its discussion on relations with Russia, the European Council strongly condemned the attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, notably Russia, on civilians in Aleppo. The EU is calling for a cease-fire and considering all the options if the atrocities continue. In their conclusions to the meeting, EU leaders stated that "those responsible for breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be held accountable." The EU's High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will continue her diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.