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 on 11 December in Brussels. 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 2021-27
The Council held a policy debate on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-27. Ministers had a constructive exchange of views on the main political priorities, setting out the implications of the current proposals for their citizens and on their national budgets, ahead of the first substantial debate on the MFF at the December European Council.
Eighteen-month programme of the Council
Ministers endorsed the 18-month work programme of the Council of the European Union. The programme was prepared by the incoming trio of the presidencies of Romania, Finland and Croatia and the High Representative, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Council. The future Romanian presidency presented the trio’s programme of activities from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020. The three main areas of focus for the trio are: unity, delivery and building a reinforced narrative on the future of the EU.
Preparation of the European Council on 13 and 14 December 2018 and European Council follow-up
The Council discussed preparations and draft conclusions for the December European Council. These included the next MFF, the single market, migration and external relations. As part of the discussions on external relations, Ministers considered the Commission’s disinformation action plan, which seeks to protect the European elections in May and other national elections. I intervened to welcome in broad terms the joint report on disinformation, and to call for follow-up actions to evaluate the EU’s response.
On migration, I underlined the importance of the conclusions in recognising continued efforts to tackle people smugglers and to intensify third country co-operation. I highlighted the future EU/League of Arab States summit as an excellent opportunity to improve co-operation with a strategic partner.
Rule of law in Poland—article 7(1) TEU reasoned proposal
The Council held a hearing under article 7(1) treaty on European Union (TEU) on the rule of law in Poland. The Commission updated Ministers on the situation regarding the rule of law in Poland. In response, Poland provided Ministers with a presentation on the evolution of its judicial reforms. The Council is expected to return to this matter at a future meeting.
Values of the Union—Hungary / article 7(1) TEU reasoned proposal
Ministers exchanged views on the procedure following the European Parliament’s triggering of the article 7(1) TEU procedure for Hungary. As part of this procedure, Hungary provided the Council with its written contribution on the issues raised by the Parliament. The Commission has provided a factual contribution on pending infringement procedures against Hungary.
European semester 2019—annual growth survey
The Commission presented the results from the annual growth survey and noted that the EU economy was entering its sixth year of uninterrupted growth. This prosperity was attributed to individual member state and EU actions, with the desire to see greater cohesion between funding and EU economic policy aims in the future.
EU budget for 2019
The Council endorsed the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2019. The total commitments are set at €165.8 billion, which is an increase of 3.2% compared with 2018. Payments amount to €148.2 billion, 2.4% more than in 2018.