Future of climate policy, epidemiological situation, and foreign affairs were discussed during the European Council meeting in Brussels

The European Council meeting ended, in which the position of Poland – on behalf of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki – was represented by Andrej Babiš, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, and, on the second day of the meeting, by Victor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary. The Prime Minister of Poland was unable to go to Brussels because he is in quarantine. EU leaders discussed the current issues on the EU agenda. They discussed the current epidemiological situation in Europe, including the progress achieved so far on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The future of the climate policy, a new model for EU-UK relations after the transition period, and EU-Africa relations were also covered.

Flaga Unii Europejskiej.

Position of Poland has been heard at the EC meeting

In Brussels, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was represented by Andrej Babiš, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. On the second day of the meeting, he was represented by Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, because Andrej Babiš had to leave the EC meeting prematurely. The Prime Minister of Poland could not participate in the meeting because he is in quarantine. A similar situation occurred during the previous summit of EU leaders, where the Polish Prime Minister represented the position of the Czech Republic. It goes to show that the relations between the Visegrád Group countries are very good and are based on cooperation and trust.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was in constant contact with Andrej Babiš and Viktor Orbán, who also received information on the position of Poland concerning individual issues that were discussed at the meeting. The EU meeting was monitored on an ongoing basis by appropriate Polish units including the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the European Union in Brussels. The head of Polish government was regularly informed about the progress of the discussions.

V4 videoconference on EC agenda

Before the EC meeting, the heads of the Visegrád Group countries discussed current EU issues, in particular the climate policy, during a special videoconference.

Information on the current and planned actions aimed to limit the rate of the COVID-19 epidemic was also exchanged. The Visegrád Group countries engaged in close cooperation already as part of the V4 Centre for COVID-19 Information Exchange launched on 9 October. It is a forum for information coordination and exchange at the level of ministerial experts from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

Overall coordination at EU level against COVID-19

In terms of the coordination of efforts related to combating the coronavirus epidemic, the Polish government is in close cooperation with other EU Member States by exchanging information and good practices related to combating the pandemic. It also supports further work on improving overall coordination at EU level related to the restrictions introduced. This work is supported by close cooperation, e.g., at the level of ministerial experts with Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic under the V4 Centre for COVID-19 Information Exchange launched on 9 October.

Issued related to the current epidemiological situation and the rules of coordination of actions of EU countries in order to respond to the current second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic were discussed. Work on the development of the vaccine and next steps related to the authorisation and distribution of vaccines were also addressed. The position of Poland is in favour of the European approach and the measures taken by the EU to accelerate the development, production, and implementation of COVID-19 vaccines.

The coordination effort at EU level will continue based on the best available science. Information regarding, in particular, quarantine regulations, cross-border contact tracing, testing strategies, the joint assessment of testing methods, the mutual recognition of tests, and the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU will be exchanged. Given a considerable increase in COVID-19 cases in the EU, the leaders decided in favour of a regular exchange of experiences at EC meetings on the measures implemented by individual Member States.

Climate policy

The progress regarding the achievement of the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050 was discussed at the EC meeting. The EU plans to update its climate and energy policy framework. The European Council discussed the Commission’s communication on “Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition”, including the proposed emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030, and the actions required to achieve that ambition.

The EC believes that the updated target should be delivered in the most cost-effective manner possible, taking into account national circumstances and considerations of fairness and solidarity. The importance of active European climate diplomacy was underlined, also with a view to joining forces on the global stage to further advance the cause of fighting climate change.

The European Council will return to the issue at its December meeting.

New model for EU-UK relations

The European Council summarised the performance of the withdrawal agreement. The state of negotiations on a future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom was presented. The transition period ends on 31 December 2020 and the United Kingdom will leave the Customs Union and the European Single Market.

EU leaders reaffirmed the determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of negotiating directives as well as statements and declarations. The key priorities include the level playing field, governance, and fisheries.

The European Council supports the intensification of the negotiations. The United Kingdom will be called on to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible. Scenarios, including those where no agreement is reached, are also being prepared. The EU will take any measures that are in its interest.

Poland is in favour of continuing negotiations with the UK. It is necessary to look for constructive solutions that will protect the interests of the EU, simultaneously being politically acceptable.

EU-Africa relations

EU leaders discussed the most important challenges related to EU-Africa relations and the ”Strategy for Africa” presented by the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

As a result of the discussion about the relations of the EU with Africa, the European Council called for the renewal and strengthening of mutual political relations. It was emphasised that economic cooperation with Africa should be intensified, in particular in the areas of digital economy, renewable energy, transport, health, and agri-food systems. In line with V4 recommendations, the EC conclusions stressed the importance of better cooperation between the EU and Africa in terms of all aspects of migration, including illegal migration and the fight against migrant-smuggling networks.

Foreign policy

EU leaders also discussed current issues related to the international situation. The European Council condemned the continuing violence against peaceful protesters and expressed its solidarity with Lithuania and Poland in light of the retaliatory measures by Belarus.

The European Council reaffirmed its conclusions of 1-2 October 2020 and deplored renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, including recent exploratory activities. EU leaders urged Turkey to reverse these actions and work for the easing of tensions in a consistent and sustained manner. Poland hopes that the diplomatic efforts will lead to the easing of tensions before the issue of Turkey is discussed at the EC meeting in December.

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