Migration, digitalisation and Brexit at European Council

When Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met his colleagues at the European Council meeting of 19–20 October, the heads of state or government adopted conclusions on migration, a Digital Europe, security and defence, and external relations. Afterwards, they discussed Brexit, without the participation of the UK.When Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met his colleagues at the European Council meeting of 19–20 October, the heads of state or government adopted conclusions on migration, a Digital Europe, security and defence, and external relations. Afterwards, they discussed Brexit, without the participation of the UK.

Stefan Löfven
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met his colleagues at the European Council meeting of 19–20 October. Photo: Daniel Holmberg/The Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU

Migration

The heads of state or government began the meeting by discussing migration. They agreed to continue the work on migration carried out so far in the EU, and to provide the proper support to Member States as necessary. In their conclusions from the meeting, the EU leaders also pointed out the importance of cooperation with countries of origin and transit, and called for further efforts to increase returns.

The European Council also reiterated the importance of vigilance on all migration routes and readiness to react to new trends. The Council undertook to ensure funding, including through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

The EU leaders also said that they would return to the reform of the Dublin system and the issue of responsibility and solidarity at the European Council meeting in December, and seek to reach a consensus during the first half of 2018.

Digital Europe

The EU leaders followed up on the Tallinn Digital Summit and emphasised that digitalisation offers immense opportunities for more jobs, growth, and global competitiveness. To build a Digital Europe, the EU needs a future-oriented regulatory framework, a first rate e-infrastructure, a common approach to cybersecurity, and training and education systems that are fit for the digital age. It is also important that funding opportunities are available for research and innovation that support a Digital Europe.

Security and defence

The EU leaders welcomed the progress made to reach agreement on enhanced security and defence cooperation, and look forward to the launch of a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the area of defence at the European Council meeting in December.

North Korea, Iran and Turkey

The European Council held a debate on relations with Turkey. It also reaffirmed its commitment to the nuclear deal between the EU and Iran. The Council also urged North Korea to abandon its missile programmes and stressed that lasting peace must achieved through peaceful means.

Brexit

The European Council welcomed the progress made in the negotiations. This applies to the first phase, regarding citizen’s rights, and how concerned citizens and their family members can be guaranteed the rights they currently enjoy as EU citizens, even after Brexit.

The Council also acknowledged that the EU and the UK have made progress on convergence on objectives and principles concerning Ireland, primarily as regards protecting the Good Friday Agreement and maintaining the Common Travel Area. With regard to the UK’s financial obligations, the European Council noted that it was waiting for greater clarity from the UK.

At its next session in December, the European Council will reassess the state of progress in the negotiations. If sufficient progress has been achieved, the Council will adopt additional guidelines on the EU’s future relationship with the UK and possible transitional arrangements. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven represented Sweden at the meeting in Brussels.