Next multiannual financial framework
The presidency presented the state of play on discussions on the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027 and set out the provisional work programme up to April. Ministers exchanged views on the organisation of the work ahead.
The shared objective is to provide the June European Council with a streamlined draft Negotiating Box, with a view to achieving an agreement in the European Council in autumn 2019.
The draft Negotiating Box brings together those elements which are most likely to require political guidance from the EU leaders with a view to the Council reaching its position. It is a tool for structuring and facilitating the negotiations on the MFF. The draft Negotiating Box is constantly discussed and updated when needed, as negotiations move forward.
We are working intensively to ensure that the important negotiations on the next MFF are making good progress. Today’s discussion provided us with the feedback we need to continue this work and to ensure that our leaders will have a good basis for their discussions on the most important issues in June.
March European Council
The Council started preparations for the European Council meeting on 21 and 22 March by discussing an annotated draft agenda.
At their meeting in March, EU leaders will focus on the following topics:
- Jobs, growth and competitiveness: they will discuss the future development of the Single Market, the Capital Markets Union, industrial policy and European digital policy in preparation for the next Strategic Agenda; they are also expected to address priorities for the 2019 European Semester and endorse the Recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area
- Climate change: they will provide guidance on the overall direction and political priorities in tackling climate change, to enable the EU to submit a long term strategy by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement
- External relations: they will prepare the EU-China summit to be held on 9 April 2019 and discuss other foreign policy topics in the light of events
- Other items: they will also review progress in tackling disinformation and the need to protect the democratic integrity of the European and national elections across the EU
Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030
The Council held an exchange of views on the steps to be taken to ensure a sustainable Europe by 2030. The discussion was based on the Commission’s reflection paper “Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030”, presented on 30 January.
Ministers discussed the key enablers for the transition towards a sustainable Europe and expressed their views on the three scenarios set out by the Commission in its reflection paper. They stressed the importance of taking action to support sustainable development domestically, regionally and globally in a coherent way to achieve the implementation at EU level of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The discussion will serve as input into the preparation of Council conclusions, which would contain the Council’s response to the Commission’s reflection paper and feed into the preparation of the sessions of the High-Level Policy Forum on Sustainable Development due to take place in July and September 2019.
It is important for the EU to set out the steps needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We must take into account the global impact of the EU’s domestic policies. Today’s discussion was an important step in that direction. We will continue to work intensively on this issue under our presidency.
Article 7 proceedings
On Poland, member states considered that recent legislative changes concerning the Supreme Court law were a positive development and encouraged the Polish authorities to address the remaining issues raised by the Commission.
On Hungary, member states exchanged views on the state of play.
The Council will return to both Article 7(1) TEU procedures, taking into account the views expressed by member states.
Free and fair elections
The Council adopted, without discussion, conclusions on securing free and fair European elections.
The conclusions cover a number of non-legislative actions to be taken in order to tackle disinformation campaigns from inside and outside the EU and increase cybersecurity in the run-up to the European elections in May 2019.
EU relations with Switzerland
The Council adopted, without discussion, conclusions on EU relations with the Swiss Confederation.
The conclusions assess the evolution and overall state of EU relations with the Swiss Confederation since the adoption of previous conclusions on the matter in February 2017.