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General Affairs Council

Volume 641: debated on Thursday 24 May 2018

Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting in Brussels on Monday 14 May 2018. The agenda covered the multiannual financial framework (MFF) post-2020, the annotated draft agenda for the European Council on 28 and 29 June 2018, and rule of law in Poland/article 7(1) treaty on European Union (TEU) reasoned proposal.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:

Multiannual financial framework (MFF) post-2020

Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, presented the Commission’s proposal for a post-2020 MFF. He set out the political context and the need for funding for new priorities, such as migration and defence. I expressed the UK’s interest in participating in programmes promoting science, education and mutual security.

Annotated draft agenda for the European Council on 28 and 29 June 2018

The presidency presented the annotated draft agenda for June European Council (JEC), which included: migration; security and defence; jobs, growth and competitiveness; innovation and digital; and external relations. Trade and enlargement may also be added to the agenda.

I intervened on the security and defence item to highlight the importance of maintaining momentum in facing challenges like terrorism and organised crime. I also welcomed discussion on a continued response to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March. On trade, I expressed that the UK remained concerned over US proposals to introduce tariffs for aluminium and steel imports and continued to press for an EU-wide exemption. I also stated that the UK would welcome discussion of this issue at JEC.

Rule of law in Poland/article 7(1) TEU reasoned proposal

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans updated Ministers on the ongoing dialogue between the Commission and Poland. He concluded that Poland’s recent reforms were insufficient to remove the risk of a threat to the rule of law and that more progress was needed. Ministers highlighted the need for continuation of dialogue and further reforms by Poland. The Commission indicated its intention to continue dialogue with Poland and provide a final opinion on the matter at the June GAC.

I intervened to highlight the importance of the rule of law, welcomed the progress so far, and emphasised that the best solution was one reached through constructive dialogue.