European Union - Amélie de Montchalin’s participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels, 25 Feb. 20)
Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, took part in the General Affairs Council today in Brussels, which addressed the following points:
- Future EU relations with the United Kingdom: The Council decided to authorize the opening of negotiations on a new partnership with the United Kingdom. Indeed, the withdrawal agreement which entered into force on February 1, marked the beginning of a transition period until at least December 31, 2020, which should make it possible to negotiate the terms of the future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom. The ministers adopted the European Commission’s negotiating mandate concerning all issues covered by the future partnership, notably in the economic and security spheres and with respect to the governance of this partnership. Under the leadership of Michel Barnier, the Commission will then negotiate these different points with the United Kingdom’s negotiator while regularly reporting on the progress of discussions to the member states and the European Parliament.
The minister of state supported the adoption of this mandate and underscored the consensus of the 27 member states with respect to launching negotiations on an ambitious and clear basis in order to protect the interests of the European Union. Amélie de Montchalin underscored that certain goals laid out in the mandate would call for determination and special consideration during the negotiations, notably with respect to provisions for a level playing field, fisheries, and the governance framework. She reiterated that it was important to give priority to a good agreement rather than bow to time pressure.
- Preparation of the European Council of March 26 - 27: the ministers discussed the agenda for the meeting of heads of state and government, which in March is traditionally devoted to economic and digital issues. The minister of state reaffirmed the challenge of providing the EU with an industrial policy suited to 21st-century challenges and capable of making the most of the ecological and digital transitions.
- Enlargement: the Commission presented its proposals on the reform of the EU adhesion process, which take steps toward changing the paradigm per the requests of France and other member states: more incentives and concrete benefits, better governance, and a reversibility mechanism to ensure the process’s credibility. The minister of state urged the Council to come to a swift agreement on this reform. Decisions will be taken on the basis of the Commission’s reports on North Macedonia and Albania.