Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the European Council meetings on 22 and 23 June 2017

European Council
  • 23/06/2017
  • 15:30
  • Statements and remarks
  • 409/17
  • Brexit
  • International trade & customs
  • Home Affairs
  • Employment
  • Economy & finance
23/06/2017
Press contacts

Preben Aamann
European Council President Spokesperson
+32 22815150
+32 476850543

Yesterday evening, leaders made three important decisions. First, we agreed to extend the sanctions against Russia for another six months. Second, Europe will continue to work to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, in cooperation with our international partners. And third, the EU27 leaders agreed the procedure on relocating the two UK-based EU agencies. This allows for the ministers to make a final decision, by vote in November. The quick agreement on this was another confirmation of our unity and determination to reduce the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Additionally, Prime Minister May informed us that on Monday she will make her proposal on the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Citizens' rights are the number one priority for the EU27, and we have made our position clear. We want to ensure the full rights for EU and UK citizens after Brexit. My first impression is that the UK's offer is below our expectations, and that it risks worsening the situation of citizens. But it will be for our negotiating team to analyse the offer line by line, once we receive it on paper.

As a matter of fact, Brexit took up very little time at this European Council. We devoted most of our work to addressing people's concerns over security, illegal migration and uncontrolled globalisation.

This morning we met with the ECB President Draghi, who confirmed that things have changed for the better in the EU. There is a renewed hope in the European project, which positively impacts on our economy. This confidence translates into strong growth, more consumption, more investments, and above all, more jobs. In fact, we have the highest number of jobs ever recorded. I wanted to share with you this optimistic assessment of President Draghi, because it's the first time in many years that we have heard such good news.

Leaders also had a long debate about trade and the balance between openness and protection. Europe is and will remain open for business. But we agreed that Europe needs to better protect our people from unfair trade practices, for example by introducing more reciprocity. We agreed that the Commission will analyse investments from third countries in strategic sectors.

Today, leaders discussed Libya and the Central Mediterranean route, where the situation remains critical in terms of irregular arrivals of migrants. While it is true that we are taking many of the right steps, the only result that really matters to us is to put a definitive end to this tragic situation. Leaders agreed that everyone will work harder in the coming weeks to better coordinate our efforts and support Italy more.

Finally, I really want to thank Joseph Muscat and his team for a very efficient Maltese presidency. Joseph, I truly appreciate your hard work. It is not a typical slogan, traditionally we should say something like that but believe me this has been one of the best experiences in my professional life. Thank you for your help with preparing the Brexit negotiations, and for moving things forward in the internal security agenda, on migration as well as for overseeing the final end of roaming charges. Seriously, Joseph, you deserve all the praise that you are rightly getting. Thank you!