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General Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs Council (Trade)

Volume 615: debated on Monday 17 October 2016

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on Tuesday 18 October is expected to focus on: preparation of the October European Council; legislative programming and the inter-institutional agreement (IIA) on ‘better law-making’; and the mid-term review of the multiannual financial framework.

I will also represent the Government at an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) dedicated to the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada (CETA).

Preparation of the October European Council

Ministers will discuss the draft conclusions of the European Council. The European Council itself will take place on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 October. The agenda covers migration, trade and EU policy toward Russia; this item will include a discussion on Russia’s recent actions in Syria. The UK will play a full part in the discussion on these issues both at the GAC and at the European Council.

Legislative programming and the inter-institutional agreement on Better Law-Making

In April this year a new inter-institutional agreement on better law making was adopted. One provision of this is that following the adoption of the Commission Work programme by the Commission, the Commission, Council and European Parliament will issue a joint declaration setting out the top priorities and objectives for the year ahead. The Slovak presidency is expected to update Ministers on the process surrounding the joint declaration.

Multiannual financial framework

This will be a follow-up to the introductory discussion that took place at the last GAC on 20 September. Final decisions will be taken later in the year.

Comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada (CETA)

The presidency has also scheduled an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in trade formation with a view to agreeing Council decisions on the signing, provisional application and conclusion of the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada (CETA), before it is sent for deliberation by the European Parliament and for full ratification by all EU member states. CETA is an important trade agreement for the UK in terms of the economic benefit it will bring to British businesses while we remain a member of the EU.

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