EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addresses a press conference at the end of the first day of the EU spring summit in Brussels, Belgium, on March 9, 2017. The European Council kicked off its spring summit on Thursday afternoon. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
BRUSSELS, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The European Council kicked off its spring summit on Thursday afternoon.
This is the first European Council summit held in the Europa building and the European Union (EU) leaders are gathering in the two-day summit to look at a number of the most pressing issues, including economy, security, migration and the situation in Western Balkans.
At the beginning of the meeting on Thursday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, representing the Maltese presidency of the Council of EU, will chair the election process of the President of the European Council for the period from June 1, 2017 to November 30, 2019.
The incumbent President Tusk's first mandate will end on May 31, 2017. His home country Poland proposed Polish Member of European Parliament Jacek Saryusz-Wolski for the position.
As EU now is facing increasing challenges, the Council will focus on the future path of the bloc. The leaders will debate the European Commission's Future of Europe White Paper, which was unveiled last week by its president Jean-Claude Juncker.
As usual, the summit will focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness. The leaders will discuss the economic situation in Europe, trade policy and progress on deepening the single market.
They will also discuss migration issues and reaffirm the bloc's commitment to strengthening its external security and defence.
Besides, the council will review the current situation in the Western Balkans and recall its support to the European perspective of the region.
Later on Friday, the 27 leaders will hold an informal meeting to prepare for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the content of the Rome declaration on the future of the EU that they are expected to adopt in Rome.