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European Council pushes for further negotiations on climate action and the future relationship with the United Kingdom

Government Communications Department 16.10.2020 16.57 | Published in English on 16.10.2020 at 17.53
Press release 658/2020

The European Council held on 15–16 October in Brussels called for more stringent EU climate targets. The EU leaders also expressed their concern about the status of the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU and stressed the need strengthen the EU’s partnership with Africa.

In the EU leaders’ view, progress has not been sufficient in the negotiations with the UK on issues of key importance for the EU. However, the EU is continuing to work towards reaching an agreement and establishing as close a partnership as possible with the UK, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible. As regards the Internal Market Bill tabled by the UK Government, the European Council recalled the need for the full and timely implementation of the withdrawal agreement previously concluded between the EU and the UK. The EU leaders also urged the EU Member States, institutions and stakeholders to prepare for the possibility that no agreement will be reached on the future relationship. The transition period will end on 31 December and the future partnership is due to begin on 1 January 2021.

On the topic of climate action, the European Council stated that the EU needs to increase its level of ambition in order to achieve the target of climate neutrality by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU leaders discussed the Commission’s communication proposing an emissions reduction target of at least 55 per cent by 2030. Finland is one of the eleven countries that issued a joint statement in support of the Commission’s proposal on the eve of the European Council. At the moment, the EU is committed to reducing its emissions at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to the levels in 1990. The European Council will return to this issue at its December meeting with a view to agreeing on a new emissions reduction target for 2030 and to submitting the EU’s updated national contributions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The EU leaders also assessed the epidemiological situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that good progress had been made at the EU level, for example in coordinating restrictions on movement and developing vaccines.

The European Council also noted the importance of strengthening the EU’s strategic relations with Africa and its partnership with the African Union on the basis of shared interests. Finland stressed that the partnership must be equal and that supporting the green and digital transition in Africa is also in Europe’s interest. The European Council also drew attention to the value base of the cooperation with regard to issues such as gender equality.

With regard to Turkey, the European Council reaffirmed its earlier support for Greece and Cyprus and condemned Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean.

The European Council condemned the violence perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators in Belarus and showed solidarity with Lithuania and Poland in response to the retaliatory actions taken by Belarus against them.

The European Council also urged Russia to continue negotiations with Australia and the Netherlands with regard to the downing of the MH17 passenger aircraft in Ukrainian airspace in 2014.

Inquiries: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for European Affairs, tel. +358 50 468 5949, Tuulia Pitkänen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 295 160 231, Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office

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