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Press release – The General Affairs Council prepares the December European Council that will focus on the future of the EMU
11.12.2012, 17:16 (CET)
EU Affairs Ministers today, December 11 prepared draft European Council Conclusions for December’s European Council, which will focus on economic policy, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), EU enlargement and foreign policy. The General Affairs Council (GAC) also took note of the annotated agenda of the February European Council. Today’s meeting was the last GAC during the Cyprus Presidency. The morning session of the GAC was chaired by Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for European Affairs, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis.

Preparing the December European Council

The EU Affairs Ministers prepared the December European Council on the basis of draft European Council conclusions. The discussion focused on economic policy and in particular, on the much-anticipated report ‘Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union’, published on December 5, 2012 which sets out a roadmap for the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

The report, similar to the one discussed during the June and October European Council meetings, was prepared by the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, in cooperation with the Presidents of the European Commission, the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank, Mr. José Manuel Barroso, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker and Mr. Mario Draghi respectively. The crucial EMU roadmap was also discussed by ministers with Mr. Van Rompuy during lunch.

This report suggests a timeframe and a stage-based process towards the completion of the EMU, while taking into account the four essential building blocks identified in the EMU report presented at the June European Council.

Stage-based process for the EMU completion

This first stage refers to the end of 2012 -2013 period, during which the aim is to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereign and ensure fiscal sustainability.

To this end, Ambassador Mavroyiannis stated, “as Cyprus Presidency we have worked and continue to work hard towards meeting the deadlines to complete the legislative proposals on the Single Supervisory Mechanism by the end of the year, according to the decisions of the Eurozone Summit in June 2012”.

During tomorrow’s extraordinary ECOFIN Council meeting, the Cyprus Presidency hopes to reach an agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).  An agreement with the European Parliament (EP) before the end of the year on the Capital Requirements Regulation and Directive (CRR/CRDIV) remains the aim of the Cyprus Presidency.

“The Cyprus Presidency welcomes the efforts to complete the EMU and the concrete efforts to develop a comprehensive approach in the banking sector, as the successful culmination of the efforts of a single supervisory mechanism will be the catalyst to the whole course out of the current crisis,’ Ambassador Mavroyiannis continued.

The second stage, ranging from 2013-2014, comprises of two essential elements which aim to complete the integrated financial framework and promote sound structural policies. This process will be completed in its third phase, post 2014, through the creation of a shock-absorption function at the central level.

Moreover, the Council took note of the annotated agenda for the European Council that will be held on February 7-8, 2013 and is expected to address external relations.

Working towards a more effective and efficient General Court

Despite the best efforts of the Cyprus Presidency, no agreement was reached on the outstanding issue of improving the efficiency of the General Court by increasing the number of its judges and the system by which they are designated. An important step in the near future will be the discussion within the Council of the re-cast of the General Court’s Rules of Procedure, which is expected to include a number of measures aimed at simplifying and shortening the procedures.

The resumption of discussions on the proposal for additional judges should be considered in conjunction with the adoption of these Rules of Procedure. This also depends on the possible initiatives of the upcoming Irish Presidency.

The General Court, together with the Court of Justice and the Civil Service Tribunal form the European judicial institution whose aim is to ensure the uniform interpretation and application of Union law.

Annual Growth Survey 2013 and European Semester

The European Commission presented the 2013 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which was published on November 28 and marks the beginning of the third European Semester, an EU level policy coordination tool which is part of a broader EU aim to strengthen economic governance. Its five priorities - that mirror the 2012 AGC priorities - focus on delivering growth and jobs, with a special emphasis on fairness.

The incoming Irish Presidency, which begins on January 1, 2013, gave a brief presentation of its roadmap for Council work on the third European Semester, emphasising the GAC’s role in monitoring this multifarious process.

As the end of the Cyprus Presidency also marks the end of the trio Poland – Denmark – Cyprus, the future Trio Presidency of the Council (Ireland, Lithuania, Greece) presented the key aspects of its 18 month programme for the period from January 1, 2013, until June 30, 2014.

Presidency Spokesperson in Brussels
Nikos Christodoulides

Coreper II

Email: nchristodoulides@mfa.gov.cy
Telephone: +32 27395152
Mobile: +32 473400441
Communications Officer
Poly Papavassiliou

Office of the Deputy Minister for European Affairs

Email: ppapavassiliou@cy2012eu.gov.cy
Telephone: +357 22400144

Watch the press conference here

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