The European Council endorsed the five priorities for 2012 set out in the Commission's Annual Growth Survey. It looked at action that has to be taken at national level. Member States must make faster progress towards the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy and step up efforts on the reforms taken up in the 2011 Country-Specific Recommendations. They are expected to indicate the measures they intend to take to that effect in their National Reform Programmes and their Stability of Convergence Programmes.
The European Council also discussed action required at the EU level, pushing ahead with completing the Single Market in all its aspects, both internal and external, and boosting innovation and research.
In the margins of the European Council the participating Member States signed the Treaty on stability, coordination and governance in the EMU.
The European Council set the EU's priorities for the forthcoming G20 meeting and UN Rio+20 Conference, with a particular emphasis on growth-enhancing measures and reforms. It took stock of developments concerning the Arab Spring and set guidance for future EU action to support that process.
Excerpted section relevant to financial services:
22. It is likewise important to rapidly complete the regulatory reform of the financial sector. Building on the political agreement recently achieved, the European Market Infrastructure Regulation should now be adopted as rapidly as possible. Furthermore, the proposals relating to bank capital requirements and to markets in financial instruments should be agreed, respectively by June and December 2012, bearing in mind the objective of having a single rule book, and ensuring timely and consistent implementation of Basel III. The amendments to the Regulation on Credit Rating Agencies should be adopted as soon as possible. The European Council looks forward to the outcome of the Commission's ongoing review of mandatory references to the ratings from credit rating agencies in EU legislation.
23. It is important to restore investor confidence in the EU banking sector and to ensure the flow of credit to the real economy, in particular through the strengthening of banks' capital positions without excessive deleveraging and, where required, measures to support bank access to funding. The Council will closely monitor the implementation of decisions taken last October in this regard. The Commission is invited to consider the possible strengthening of the current framework relative to executives pay.
24. Given the need to stimulate the private financing of key infrastructure projects, work on the pilot phase of the Europe 2020 project bond initiative should be stepped up with a view to reaching agreement by June.