Video conference of the members of the European Council
Ministers examined a statement for the video conference of the members of the European Council on 25 and 26 March. The EU leaders will discuss the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Single Market, industrial policy, digital transformation and the economy, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, and relations with Russia.
-COVID-19: The leaders will take stock of the roll-out of vaccines and the epidemiological situation and pursue the coordinated response to the pandemic crisis.
-Single market, industrial policy, digital transformation and the economy: They will discuss the key priorities for the single market, industrial policy and the digital transformation. The leaders will look at the Digital Compass, including targets set for 2030, and review work on digital taxation. They will address the priorities for the 2021 European Semester and leaders will be invited to endorse the recommendation on the economic policy of the Eurozone in their next formal meeting.
-Eastern Mediterranean: The EU leaders will discuss the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The High Representative and the Commission are expected to submit a report on EU-Turkey relations ahead of the meeting, following the conclusions of the European Council in December 2020.
-Russia: The EU leaders will discuss relations with Russia.
The key of our collective action to tackle the pandemics is to accelerate the production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. No effort will be spared.
Ana Paula Zacarias, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs
The Council examined a presidency synthesis report on the contributions of several informal video conferences of ministers responsible for economic and financial affairs, employment and social affairs, internal market and industry, environment and research, regarding the 2021 European Semester and the recovery and resilience plans.
The report notes that, according to the Commission’s latest winter forecast, the economic outlook crucially depends on the evolution of the pandemic and of the restrictions on economic activity to contain it and that policy support at national and EU level will be crucial for the recovery.
In the context of the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the report emphasises that the national recovery and resilience plans should become the main reference document on the Member States’ forward-looking policy initiatives. The plans have to encompass the national agenda of reforms and investments, be consistent with the relevant country-specific challenges and priorities identified in the context of the European Semester, be in line with the EU policy objectives and focus on the green and digital transitions.
The Council also agreed to forward a draft recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area to the European Council.
The Presidency presented an updated roadmap on the 2021 European Semester. This roadmap was prepared having in mind the particular context deriving from the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for continued adjustment to articulate the Recovery and Resilience Facility with the European Semester.
Conference on the Future of Europe
The Presidency informed ministers about the state of play on the Conference on the Future of Europe, aimed at involving citizens in a wide-ranging debate on Europe’s future in the coming decade and beyond, including in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council, the European Parliament and the Commission signed on 10 March a joint declaration that sets out the objectives, structure, scope and timing of the Conference.
The constitutive meeting of the Conference’s Executive Board will take place on 24 March 2021 to discuss a range of issues, including internal arrangements and the launch of the online platform, as well as the planning for future Conference events.
The Council will be represented on the Board by the Presidency and the two subsequent presidencies, with the following four presidencies having observer status.
The Conference’s activities are expected to start soon. The Conference’s joint presidency will invite the Conference to reach conclusions by Spring 2022.
-23 March 2021