Minister Delegate for European Affairs George Ciamba chaired the meeting in Brussels of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), the first under the aegis of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.
Prior to the meeting of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), the minister delegate for European affairs, as President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union, had talks with Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy, David Lidington, on recent developments in the UK. George Ciamba also had pre-GAC50 consultations with Michel Barnier, chief negotiator of the European Union for Brexit.
At the General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting, the chief negotiator of the European Union presented the latest developments in the Brexit process, marked by the negative outcome of the vote in the British Parliament regarding the Withdrawal Agreement. At the same time, the European official assessed the possibility of extending the negotiation period, but pointed out that this decision would be adopted by European leaders based on unanimity, after a thorough analysis of the arguments presented by the British government. Michel Barnier highlighted the efforts made to reach a compromise and said that, from the Union’s point of view, the negotiations have been completed.
The ministers for European affairs held a meaningful exchange of views on topics of major concern: extending the negotiation period, internal preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without an agreement, as well as the Union’s strategy in the coming period.
Minister George Ciamba reiterated the support of the member states for the work of the chief negotiator of the European Union, appreciating that the European Union had an active role in supporting a positive vote in the British Parliament.
At the same time, the Romanian dignitary emphasised the substantial progress made by the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council in the accelerated adoption of preparatory and contingency measures to ensure that the Union and the Member States would be adequately prepared at the time of Great Britain’s withdrawal, reminding that most measures were adopted by the Council on the same morning. The minister delegate for European affairs also underlined the importance of enhancing this preparatory process, with regard to both the latest specific legislative measures and to the measures that need to be implemented at national level.
The Romanian official outlined the major priority of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council on maintaining the unity of EU27 and defining a coherent and coordinated approach towards responding to the latest developments.