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Press statement by President Donald Tusk after the informal meeting of heads of state or government

European Council
  • 12/02/2015
  • 23:00
  • Statements and remarks
  • 57/15
  • Home Affairs
  • Foreign affairs & international relations
  • Euro area
  • Economy & finance

Good evening. We have just finished several hours of discussion, focusing on three great challenges facing Europe.

First, Ukraine. President Poroshenko briefed us on the terrible situation in his country as a result of Russian aggression. He gave us a sobering assessment of the deal reached this morning in Minsk.

We thanked Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande for their indispensable efforts for peace in Ukraine. They presented the results of the Minsk talks. We give it cautious support. Words put down on paper must translate into real deeds. The ceasefire must be respected. We must see a real de-escalation of the conflict. This is not just about the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The whole geopolitical order in Europe after 1989 is at stake.

We will be ready for any development, good or bad. Our debate focused on how to support the implementation of the agreement. If this does not happen, we will not hesitate to take the necessary steps. We stand united. We will stay the course.

As well as threats to peace outside, the European Union faces enemies within. Only five weeks ago, terrorists killed 17 people in France.

We will co-operate together to face this threat, not with emotion or over-reaction, but with calm and determination. We have agreed on new priorities in the fight against terrorism. What is needed most is agreement on the exchange of passenger records within the European Union. We need this soon.

On Greece, the President of the Eurogroup briefed us on the intensive discussion Finance Ministers had yesterday. The European Council did not enter into negotiations on this issue. Today, Prime Minister Tsipras and the President of the Eurogroup asked the institutions to work on a technical assessment. This is to establish common ground before the Eurogroup meets next Monday.

We also spoke about improving economic policy in the eurozone. After the recent decision by the ECB, it is vital to make national economies fully compatible with monetary union. To make this happen, structural reforms need strong political ownership at the national level. We will continue to work towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union.

This was an "informal" summit. Yet we have made real progress. In five weeks, we will meet again in March. Until then we will follow developments closely. Thank you.