Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:
I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday 26 June. A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:
Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process
Ministers agreed Council Conclusions on enlargement policy and the stabilisation and association process. Subject to progress on rule of law reform, the Council set out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019 with Albania and Macedonia, which I supported.
Ministers prepared June European Council by discussing the draft conclusions issued on 25 June. On Migration, Ministers exchanged views on internal and external migration, the reform of the Common European Asylum System and measures to strengthen the EU’s external borders.
On Security and Defence, Ministers discussed EU-NATO cooperation, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. I supported the draft conclusions on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats which were issued as part of the response to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March. I also welcomed the inclusion of language in the draft conclusions on measures to counter malign cyber activity.
In discussions on Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness, I highlighted the UK’s concerns surrounding proposals on investment screening. On the response to the US decision to impose tariffs on the EU for aluminium and steel imports, I supported the measures that had been taken and welcomed calls to avoid the further escalation of this situation.
Ministers also debated digital and innovation matters, external relations and the Multiannual Financial Framework.
In accordance with the European Semester process, Ministers approved country-specific recommendations (CSR) on the economic and social outcomes which Member States will work towards over the course of the following year. The Council is expected to formally adopt the CSRs in July.
Interinstitutional Agreement Implementation
The Council held a hearing under Article 7 (1) Treaty on European Union. The Commission set out its concerns on the judicial reforms enacted by the Polish authorities. In response, Poland provided a detailed presentation which set out out the context and content of the reforms and highlighted the political sensitivities. Thirteen member states asked Poland questions and Poland responded. The Presidency confirmed that Ministers would return to this matter at future meetings of the GAC.