On October 13, Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, attended the General Affairs Council which dealt with numerous issues ahead of preparations for the next European Council meeting (October 15-16).
The ministers discussed the response to the Covid-19 health crisis following the adoption of the Council’s recommendation on a coordinated approach to restrictions on free movement.
They also addressed the following points:
- Budget for 2021-2027: Clement Beaune reaffirmed France’s desire to quickly reach an agreement with the European Parliament on the entire budget package so that the funds allocated to European recovery are available as soon as possible.
- Rule of law: the Minister of State applauded the publication of the Commission’s first annual report, which expands the range of tools available to the EU to monitor the status of the rule of law in all member countries. This report focuses on four areas: independence of the judiciary, the fight against corruption, media freedom and pluralism, and the balance of powers.
- Negotiations on future relations between the United Kingdom and the EU: Michel Barnier, head of the task force responsible for finalizing negotiations, reviewed the discussions that are showing progress but are still stumbling over certain key issues such as fisheries and the conditions for free trade and governance. The Minister of State indicated that France, together with its European partners, will continue to strongly champion the EU’s interests in a united fashion and will ensure that it is as prepared as it can possibly be for the situation at the end of the transition period at both the European and national levels, taking all scenarios into account, including the lack of an agreement.
- Climate agenda: Clément Beaune reiterated France’s desire that the European Council address the adoption of the goal to reduce emissions by 55% in order to achieve climate neutrality in 2050, using the tools available to the EU.
- Conference on the Future of Europe: the Minister of State reaffirmed the need to swiftly reach an agreement with the European Parliament in order to respect the timetable set by the European Council.