General Affairs Council, 22 September 2020 - EU monitor

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General Affairs Council, 22 September 2020

Source: Council of the European Union (Council) i, published on Tuesday, September 22 2020.

Main results

Special European Council

Ministers exchanged views on the draft conclusions for the special European Council meeting to be held on 1 and 2 October.

At their meeting, EU leaders will discuss the single market, industrial policy and digital transformation. They will also exchange views on EU-China relations and hold a strategic discussion on Turkey.

EU-UK relations

The Union's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, informed ministers of the state of play of the EU-UK negotiations, the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the EU's readiness efforts in view of the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Ministers reaffirmed their support for the chief negotiator and his mandate, and expressed their trust that further progress could be achieved in the next round of negotiations scheduled for the week of 28 September. They also stressed that the Withdrawal Agreement had to be respected.

Next multiannual financial framework and the recovery package

The presidency briefed ministers on the trilateral contacts held with the European Parliament and the Commission since late August to secure the required consent of the European Parliament on the MFF regulation.

The discussions have focused on new own resources, the governance of Next Generation EU, the envelopes of EU programmes and horizontal issues, such as climate, gender and biodiversity. The negotiating teams are working hard to conclude the process quickly.

In their comments, several speakers stressed that the MFF and the recovery instrument formed an inseparable package. Ministers also underlined the need to finalise all the procedures as soon as possible, in order to be able to help member states and regions affected by the pandemic and ensure a timely start of the new programmes.

I am satisfied that some progress has been achieved in our dialogue with the Parliament. It is important now to quickly bring this process to a positive conclusion. Our societies and economies have been strongly affected by the pandemic and we urgently need to deliver on our promises to help the hardest hit member states, regions and sectors.

Michael Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Europe

COVID-19 - EU coordination

On the basis of a presidency progress report, ministers discussed how to achieve greater cooperation at EU level on national measures limiting free movement during the Covid-19 pandemic. Member states expressed broad support for the proposed approach to the collection and presentation of data by the ECDC, and stressed the importance of clear and timely communication between member states and to the public. They will further explore ways to coordinate on risk assessment, designation of risk areas and measures to be triggered.

Work will continue within the Council in the coming weeks with a view to reaching agreement on a Council recommendation.

Restrictions on free movement affect the daily lives of many of our citizens whether they travel for work, family or tourism reasons. Member states today reiterated their strong commitment to improving coordination of these measures, so as to ensure greater transparency and predictability for all. It is in our common interest to protect Schengen and the Single Market.

Michael Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Europe

Article 7 procedures

As part of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure, the Commission updated ministers on the developments in Poland and Hungary since the end of last year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impossibility of holding physical Council meetings, the Council has not been able to hold discussions under Article 7 this year.

In its overview on Poland, the Commission focused on disciplinary sanctions for judges and the implementation of the Court of Justice order of 8 April 2020 on the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. Concerning Hungary, the Commission outlined the situation in several areas, including the independence of the judiciary, media pluralism and academic freedom.

Legislative programming

The Commission presented to the Council the letter of intent concerning its draft work programme for 2021, and its 2020 Strategic Foresight Report, which will serve as input for the upcoming multiannual programming exercise between the EU institutions.

Meeting information

  • Meeting n°3770
  • Brussels
  • 22 September 2020
  • 10:00

Preparatory documents

Outcome documents