European Union - Nathalie Loiseau’s participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels, 19 March 2019)

Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, will take part in the General Affairs Council in Brussels on March 19.

The ministers will focus on the following points:

  • 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework: The Romanian presidency is holding thematic discussions in order to make progress on the proposals relating to the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. The ministers will discuss two issues during a public debate: the budget’s contribution to the fight against climate disruption and the response to migration issues. The minister will reaffirm our priorities for the Multiannual Financial Framework and our desire to ensure that the EU budget makes a significant contribution to the climate goals, as mentioned by President Macron in his op-ed in the European press on March 4. We would also like the budget to respond to both the external and internal dimensions of climate challenges in a clear, coherent and coordinated manner.
  • Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance: Following more than nine months of negotiations, the ministers will be encouraged to adopt a partial general approach on the draft regulation on establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA III) which establishes the framework for EU assistance to candidate and potential candidate countries for the next financial programming period. The text meets our main goals: emphasis on the performance of countries with respect to the implementation of reforms, the rule of law and the steering role of member states in the allocation of funds.
  • Preparations for the European Council: The ministers will discuss the draft conclusions for the European Council meeting on March 21 and 22, which includes four points: i) employment, growth and competitiveness; ii) climate change; iii) external relations; iv) other points (review of progress in the fight against disinformation and the need to protect the democratic integrity of European and national elections throughout the EU). This work session will provide an opportunity to prepare for the meeting of heads of state and government on industrial policy, competition policy, trade policy, the digital economy, as well as the creation of a budgetary tool for the euro area. We would also like the heads of state and government to call for efforts to speed up work on the fight against climate change in the run-up to the European Council in June. Lastly, the minister will underscore the importance of discussions on relations between the EU and China, which we expect to help consolidate a shared vision in terms of cooperation on issues of common interest and principles on which we must remain firm.
  • The European Semester: In response to a point of order, the ministers will be asked to vote on the consolidated report on the Council’s contributions relating to the 2019 European Semester and on the transmission to the European Council of the draft recommendation on the euro area economic policy.
  • UK’s withdrawal from the EU: The General Affairs Council will then meet in the so-called Article 50 format, i.e. in an EU27 format, to discuss the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Michel Barnier will present the status of the ratification of the withdrawal agreement to the ministers following the parliamentary votes held in the UK from March 12 to 14, and ahead of the new vote on the agreement due to take place on March 20. The ministers will underscore that a possible new request to extend the negotiation period will not be approved without a clear and credible perspective, and that the EU is ready for all scenarios on March 29, including the UK’s withdrawal without an agreement.