EU summit starts in Brussels: situation in Ukraine on agenda

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EU summit starts in Brussels on Thursday, the aim of it is to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the appointment of a new EU leadership. The main working day of the summit will be Friday, June 27, which will begin with a ceremony of signing association agreements with Moldova and Georgia, and the economic bloc of the Association Agreement with Ukraine.

Then already without the leaders of partner countries, Heads of State and Government of the European Union will consider the situation in Ukraine, discuss the feasibility of economic sanctions against Russia, the prospects for strengthening the EU’s energy security, as well as opportunities to increase employment and economic growth in the European Union.

Furthermore, EU leaders finally approved the decision on admission of Lithuania to the euro zone starting from January 1, 2015.

As for Thursday, contrary to tradition, leaders of the 28 EU countries will gather in the evening not in the headquarters of the European Council, the palace “Justus Lipsius” in Brussels, but in the Belgian town of Ypres, where the ceremony will be held in memory of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

The first day of the summit will end with informal dinner of Heads of State and Government in the Town Hall in Ypres. It will focus on the main priorities of the EU for the next five years. However, the new composition of the European Commission has yet to be formed, and before that, EU leaders should identify candidates for key leadership positions of the European Union. This issue will become a major at this summit, and the discussion about it will start on Thursday.

The main candidate to replace Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President for 2014-2019 years is a former prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker. In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, Heads of State when appointing the Chairman of the Commission “should take into account the results of the elections to the European Parliament.” However, there is no exact procedure in this document.

Juncker is a candidate from the largest faction of the European Parliament of the new convocation – European People’s Party. All heads of state except the UK Premiere David Cameron supported his candidacy to a greater or lesser extent. For moderate Eurosceptic Cameron, former head of the Euro group and one of the architects of the euro – Junker, is the personification of the “old” and unfriendly EU. Favorite for the presidency of the European Council, the successor to Herman Van Rompuy, is currently the representative of the Social Democratic Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

EU leaders on senior positions seek to balance between the political parties of the European Union, between men and women, between people from different geographical regions of Europe. Based by all three criteria Denmark Prime Minister can make a good team with Juncker. Thorning-Schmitt herself has repeatedly stated that she would prefer to remain the head of the Danish government, but many observers, including her party colleagues believe that she can change her mind if she receives a direct offer from EU summit.

However, former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta is another candidate on that position. The Head of the EU External Action Service, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton is likely to be replaced by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski or his Dutch colleague Frans Timmermans.

As for the head of the European Parliament, there is a possibility that the mandate of its current head, German Martin Schulz, will be extended. However, Schultz must find a “partner” as the head of the European Parliament mandate lasts not 5, but only 2.5 years. As the probable replacement of Schulz in 2017 a number of candidates have been mentioned, including the representative of the leader of a faction of liberals and former prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt, reports Itar-Tass.

 

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