EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss the long-term EU budget and the institutional issues. Syria, Brexit, and relations with Turkey were also on the agenda.
Multi annual financial framework
The heads of state or government also debated on the political priorities of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) after 2020, i.e. the EU's long term budget.
"We agreed that the EU will spend more on stemming illegal migration, on defence and security, as well as on the Erasmus+ programme." Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
President Tusk said that some leaders stressed the continued importance of the cohesion policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, investments in research and innovation, and pan-European infrastructure. He highlighted that the priorities were linked with the size of the budget, and in this context the EU needs to address the revenue gap caused by Brexit.
EU leaders discussed two sets of issues related to the next institutional cycle:
. high-level appointments, including the so called 'Spitzenkandidaten' process
. the European Parliament's composition after the 2019 elections and the idea of transnational lists
At the press conference after the summit President Donald Tusk said that there was agreement among leaders that European Council couldn't guarantee in advance that it would propose one of the lead candidates for President of the European Commission.
"There is no automaticity in this process. The Treaty is very clear that it is the autonomous competence of the European Council to nominate the candidate, while taking into account the European elections, and having held appropriate consultations." Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Concerning the European Parliament composition after Brexit, leaders broadly supported the idea that fewer member states should mean fewer seats, which means reducing the number of MEPs from 751 to 705.
As regards transnational lists, leaders will come back to this issue in the future, with a view to the 2024 elections.
Leaders discussed the situation in Syria and called for an immediate ceasefire.
"The Assad regime is brutally attacking innocent men, women and children. Its backers, Russia and Iran, are allowing this to happen. We urge them to stop this violence." Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
President Tusk informed the leaders about the draft guidelines on the future EU-UK relationship he was going to present at the March summit.
"Our intention is to adopt these guidelines, whether the UK is ready with its vision of our future relations, or not." Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Relations with Turkey
During the summit President Anastasiades and Prime Minister Tsipras informed the leaders about the latest developments regarding Turkey's violations in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Aegean. President Tusk expressed solidarity with Cyprus and Greece and called on Turkey to stop these activities.
"We are ready to cooperate with Turkey and will asses at our March European Council whether the conditions are there to hold the Leaders Meeting with Turkey in Varna on 26 March." Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
The meeting took place under the Leaders' Agenda. As the discussions were future-oriented, the meeting was held in an EU27 format.