General Affairs Council, 12 November 2018

Department for Exiting the European Union written statement – made on 21st November 2018.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

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 on 12 November in Brussels. A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2018/11/12/

Values of the Union - Hungary / Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

The Presidency informed Ministers of their meeting with the European Parliament to discuss the reasoned opinion.

Rule of law in Poland - Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

The Commission briefed Ministers on developments since the GAC meeting in October and recommended that there should be a third hearing on the rule of law in Poland at the December GAC.

Preparation of December European Council on 13-14 December 2018

Ministers discussed the draft agenda for the December European Council which comprises the Multiannual Financial Framework, the Single Market, Migration and External Relations. Ministers welcomed the agenda and, in discussions on Migration, called for more progress to be made on the implementation of the approach agreed at previous meetings of the European Council. I intervened to underline the need to disrupt people smuggling networks and their business models and to tackle the challenges of migration upstream.

As part of the discussions on External Relations, the European Council will consider measures to address online disinformation. Ministers welcomed the inclusion of a new Joint Action Plan to tackle disinformation in the 2019 Commission Work Programme. I intervened to highlight the UK’s support for this work and reminded Ministers of the need to ensure that freedom of speech was respected.

Annual Rule of Law dialogue

Ministers took part in the fourth annual rule of law dialogue and considered the levels of trust that EU citizens have in public institutions. Ministers discussed the threat posed by political apathy, online disinformation and hostile cyber activity in electoral processes. The Presidency will prepare draft conclusions on the dialogue and these will be discussed further by Council working groups.

Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 - 2027

The Council discussed progress on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposals. The Commission and the Presidency noted that the significant progress made since June would ensure that Leaders would be in a position to discuss the MFF at the European Council meeting in December.

Legislative programming - Commission’s Work Programme 2019

The Commission presented the Commission Work Programme for 2019 and set out the measures it will take over the next ten weeks to conclude proposals in relation to economic growth, competition, climate change, cyber attacks and disinformation.

Subsidiarity Package

The Commission presented its subsidiarity package which was published on 23 October. The package seeks to strengthen the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity in EU decision-making. In those areas which do not form part of the EU’s exclusive competence, the principle of subsidiarity means that action should only be taken at EU level when the desired objectives cannot be effectively achieved by action taken at national or regional level.

European Semester 2019 - Roadmap

The Austrian Presidency and the incoming Romanian Presidency presented the timetable for the 2019 European Semester, which will provide a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the EU.