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European Council discussed the Union’s development and Brexit negotiations

Government Communications Department 20.10.2017 15.18 | Published in English on 21.10.2017 at 10.42
Press release 481/2017
Prime Ministers Juha Sipilä and Theresa May discussing at the European Council.

The EU leaders discussed the Union’s development over a breakfast meeting on Friday 20 October. The meeting was followed by a European Council meeting (Art. 50) where the EU leaders examined the state of the Brexit negotiations.

The European Council supported the Leaders’ Agenda put forward by the European Council President Donald Tusk relating to European Council meetings and extraordinary meetings of Heads of State or Government and matters to be discussed in these meetings between now and June 2019. Work will be based on what was agreed in Bratislava and the principles adopted in Rome in March 2017. 

 “I am pleased that President Tusk has given due attention to Finland’s views on ways to develop the EU. In this work, it is essential to focus on concerns expressed by the citizens and on finding concrete ways of resolving them,” said Prime Minister Sipilä. “It is also very important that the EU countries remain resolute to continue to develop the EU together, and not in smaller groups. I am also pleased that the proposal put forward by Tusk emphasises the need to link the European agenda more closely with national level decision-making. This is how we work in Finland – for example, when we were among the first to formulate our position on the development of EMU,” Sipilä said.

The EU leaders also assessed progress in the Brexit negotiations. The main issues during the ongoing first phase of negotiations concern EU citizens' rights, the UK’s financial obligations to the current EU budget frame, and the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The EU leaders stated that sufficient progress has not yet been achieved and therefore it is not possible to move to the second phase of the negotiations.  

In addition, the Estonian EU Presidency informed the EU leaders about the discussion held on the relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority from the UK to other EU countries. The decision on the agencies’ new home cities will be made at the EU General Affairs Council in November 2017. Helsinki is among the eleven candidates to host the Medicines Agency.

Inquiries: Kare Halonen, State Secretary, EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, Riikka Pakarinen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 40 580 0833 and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office