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 can be achieved. The EU remains committed to concluding an ambitious agreement for the future relations. Nevertheless, ministers underlined the need for businesses and countries to prepare for all scenarios.
Rule of law dialogue
The presidency has developed a new approach to the Council's annual rule of law dialogue. Ministers had a horizontal discussion on general developments, around four pillars: justice systems, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism, and other institutional issues linked to checks and balances.
Country-specific aspects will be discussed at the 10 November GAC meeting. There, the discussion will focus on key developments in five member states, following the EU protocol order: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark and Estonia.
Rule of law is a core founding value of the EU. Our new dialogue is a further instrument in the EU’s toolkit to strengthen and protect the rule of law. It aims to establish an open and constructive debate on the situation regarding the rule of law in all member states: equal treatment of all member states, non-discrimination and objective criteria are key. Our main goal is to achieve a clear and mutual understanding of what binds us together.”
Michael Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Europe
Ministers exchanged views on the draft conclusions for the European Council meeting to be held on 15 and 16 October.
At their meeting, EU leaders will discuss the state of play in the EU-UK negotiations.
They will also hold a policy debate on climate change and discuss COVID-19 coordination and foreign affairs, including EU-Africa relations.
Conference on the Future of Europe
There was an information point from the presidency about the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The member states want the Conference on the Future of Europe to get citizens involved in a wide-ranging debate on Europe’s future in the coming decade and beyond, including in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The presidency explained that contacts are still ongoing with the other institutions with the view to reaching an agreement on a joint declaration to pave the way to the launch of the Conference.
Next multiannual financial framework and the recovery package
The presidency briefed ministers on the ongoing talks at political level with the European Parliament and the Commission with a view to securing the Parliament's consent to the regulation laying down the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027.
The EU institutions have been moving forward in finding common ground on a number of issues, including the governance of funding under Next Generation EU and horizontal issues such as climate protection and gender mainstreaming. Trilogue meetings with the Parliament on the new conditionality mechanism have also started.
The presidency deemed a swift agreement on the overall package possible and emphasised the urgency of concluding the process as soon as possible.
Infographic - A common approach on COVID-19 travel measures
COVID-19 - EU coordination
The Council today adopted without discussion a recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This recommendation aims to avoid fragmentation and disruption and increase transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses.
COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives in many ways. Travel restrictions have made it difficult for some of our citizens to get to work, to university or to visit their loved ones. It is our common duty to ensure coordination of any measures which affect free movement and to give our citizens all the information they need when deciding on their travel.
Michael Roth, Germany’s Minister of State for Europe
-13 October 2020