Leaders agree to review the EU agenda

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Leaders agree to review the EU agenda

Post by BBs » Wed May 28, 2014 9:04 am

EU leaders have agreed to re-evaluate the bloc's agenda after voters "sent a strong message", European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said.

Mr Van Rompuy said leaders of the 28 member states had asked him to launch consultations on future policies.

He was speaking after a meeting in Brussels to discuss big election gains by populist and far-right parties.

The results of the European Parliament election led to calls for an EU rethink by those leaders who suffered defeats.

But despite gains by anti-EU groups, pro-European parties still won most votes overall.

Tuesday's summit was the first opportunity for leaders of all member states to discuss the way forward after last week's polls.

Matthew Price, BBC News, Brussels

The European Union faces perhaps one of the defining moments in its history - how to deal in the coming years with the growing number of voters who want to reduce the power of Brussels, or even get rid of it all together. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said all leaders had agreed on the outline of a way forward.

There needed to be a focus on economic growth, and jobs to reconnect with those struggling in the economic crisis, he said. He referred to a desire to maintain even develop freedom of movement for the blocs 500m citizens.

But at the same time the EU must combat irregular migration, crime and fraud. Leaders also said a balance needed to be found on what is best done at a European level and what at a national level.

The BBC's Chris Morris says reforms could include less regulation and less focus on economic austerity policies, while measures to boost growth and create jobs could address voter discontent.

French President Francois Hollande said the EU's priority should be "growth, jobs and investment"
Mr Van Rompuy said the results of the European elections had shown "a mix of continuity and change" and that the Eurosceptic message from voters was "at the heart" of discussions between leaders.

He said the meeting in Brussels had been a "useful first discussion" and that EU leaders had agreed on putting the economy at the heart of the group's agenda.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
The Eurosceptic voices are being heard by the electorate - it's an indication that citizens are not very happy with the way Europe is being governed”
End Quote
Juergen Gevaert

Belgian journalist

Viewpoints: European reporters on EU polls
"As the union emerges from the financial crisis it needs a positive agenda of growth," he said, repeating a common refrain of what is needed to reverse growing anti-EU sentiment.

'France cannot live isolated'

President Francois Hollande asked Europe to "pay attention" to France after describing his Socialist party's defeat to the far-right National Front as "painful."

The National Front - which Germany's finance minister described as "fascist" - stormed to victory with a preliminary 25% of the vote, pushing Mr Hollande's Socialists into third place.

National Front President Marine Le Pen said she would use her electoral mandate to "defend France" and fight "crazy measures like votes for immigrants."

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.David Cameron: "The EU cannot shrug off these results"
Speaking after EU leaders met in Brussels, Mr Hollande said the National Front victory was "traumatic for France and Europe."

"France cannot live isolated and frightened. Its destiny is in Europe," he added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country had the "utmost interest in France being successful", adding that she would do all she could to help growth and competitiveness in the French economy.

Mr Van Rompuy also told reporters that he would hold talks with the political groups to be formed in the European Parliament on who will be named to head the next Commission, the EU's executive arm.

On the latest projections, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) will be the biggest political group and its candidate is former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker.

Former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker is the EPP group's candidate for Commission president

Angela Merkel's stance on Mr Juncker may torpedo his chances to become Commission head
The German chancellor, whose Christian Democrat party is part of the EPP, indicated Mr Juncker may not end up leading the Commission, after some member states expressed reservations about him.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who sees Mr Juncker as too much of an EU federalist, is among those opposed to his nomination.

EU leaders have traditionally named the Commission head on their own, but under new rules they now have "to take account" of the European election results.

Our correspondent says the process for choosing the president of the Commission could produce fireworks amid rumblings over interpretations of the Lisbon Treaty.

But Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said that while there would be no time limit on Mr Van Rompuy, he would be expected to report back within two or three weeks.

"It should not be dragged out too long," Mr Kenny said.

Vote 2014

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