On March 19, 2019, the minister delegate for European affairs, George Ciamba, representing the EU Council Presidency, chaired a new meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels. The main items on the agenda were a new debate on the future Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and the preparation of the Spring European Council.
Regarding the post-2020 MFF, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU proposed the ministers for European affairs to debate on two key aspects in the overall architecture of the future budget of the EU, namely the reflection of the climate objectives in the new budget and the horizontal migration-related elements. The two topics occasioned a constructive exchange of opinions, all the Member States acknowledging the importance of the two policies among the strategic objectives of the Union as well as the importance of an adequate and balanced reflection of those objectives in the future Multiannual Financial Framework.
At the same time, in the context of the discussions, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU introduced a progress report on the status of the sectoral proposals negotiated under the Multiannual Financial Framework, with accent laid on those proposals that had already been agreed with the European Parliament.
“The work on the Multiannual Financial Framework keeps advancing. Today’s discussions on the climate and migration objectives have allowed us to touch upon key aspects that will make a useful background in preparation of the Heads of State and Government debates of June. At the same time, the joint agreements that the Romanian Presidency has negotiated with the current European Parliament on a set of sectoral proposals for the Financial Framework – such as the European Defence Fund, the Fiscalis Programme, the Digital Europe Programme for 2021-2027, the Connecting Europe Facility, the Space Programme, the Justice Programme, the Rights and Values Programme, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund or the LIFE Programme – will later contribute to the timely preparation and implementation of the new programmes”, stated minister delegate George Ciamba.
The ministers for European affairs also adopted the partial general approach on the Instrument for Pre‑accession Assistance, included in the sectoral legislative package on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. The mandate validated in the Council will inform the future negotiations with the European Parliament.
“The Romanian Presidency holds the promotion of the EU enlargement as a priority and we remain committed to reaching an agreement on that instrument, which will support our partners in the implementation of the reforms required to abide by the values of the Union and gradually align to the EU rules and policies, in view of their upcoming accession to the Union”, pointed out the minister delegate for European affairs, George Ciamba.
According to the common practice, the ministers for European affairs also exchanged opinions in preparation of the European Council meeting of March 21-22, 2019, whose agenda includes the following items: employment; growth and competitiveness, with accent of the Single Market; the EU industrial and trade policies; climate change; external relations, with reference to the preparations for the EU-China Summit of April 9, 2019; and the fight against disinformation. In the context of the opinion exchange on the preparation of the European Council, the Member States welcomed the fact that the European Council Conclusions comprehensively addressed the aspects of strengthening and deepening the Internal Market, the industrial and trade policies and the digital industry, under the circumstances of significant competition on the global arena. In connection to climate change, the ministers appreciated that it was important for the Council to adopt a long term strategic vision on the topic.
In connection to the fight against disinformation, the ministers for European affairs welcomed the wording of the draft European Council conclusions, which reflects the progress made by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the last few months with regard to developing actions in that field, especially in view of the upcoming European Parliament elections. The ministers encouraged the continuation of the work towards that end also after the European elections.
The agenda of the Council also included an opinion exchange on the 2019 European Semester.
Towards the end of the meeting, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU informed the Member States about the outcomes of the meeting with the candidate countries, held on the margins of the informal meeting of the ministers and secretaries of state for European affairs in Bucharest (March 11-12, 2019). The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU organised that informal meeting with the candidate countries in order to exchange opinions on the reforms undertaken by those countries on their way to accession, as well as on their expectations from the new enlargement package and from the future Council conclusions that would be discussed in the General Affairs Council of June 2019.