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General Affairs Council: February 2017

Volume 621: debated on Thursday 9 February 2017

The General Affairs Council (GAC) was held on 7 February in Brussels under the Maltese presidency.

The agenda covered follow up to the December European Council; preparation for the March European Council; and Commission communication on next steps for a sustainable European future. The UK permanent representative to the EU represented the UK.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/02/07/.

Follow up to the December European Council

The Maltese presidency presented the EU’s key priorities and progress, stating that further work was needed in all areas. The Commission added that member states should not lose sight of making progress on relocation and the common European asylum system.

Preparation for the March European Council

The presidency presented the draft agenda which includes: jobs, growth and competitiveness, which would take stock of single market strategies; security, where leaders would examine decisions taken at December’s European Council; and a place-holder for external relations. The presidency announced that external migration would be added. The UK supported the addition of migration following the discussions at the Valletta summit, welcomed the opportunity to return to security and noted the importance of jobs, growth and competitiveness and external relations.

Commission communication on next steps for a sustainable European future

The Commission introduced its communication, in which it set out a vision for a more sustainable future in line with the UN sustainable development goals and Agenda 2030. It includes empowerment of women; energy transformation; a digital single market; and lifelong learning. There will be Council conclusions in June to progress work in this area.

AOB

Portugal presented conclusions of a conference on the future of the European monetary union held in Lisbon in January. The conference, attended primarily by representatives from southern European countries, called for the EU to work together to promote growth and convergence across eurozone countries, backed by a socially sustainable increase in public and private investment.

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