General Affairs Council meeting prepares the European Council
On 20 June in Luxembourg, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Albinas Zananavičius attended the General Affairs Council meeting that prepared the European Council on 22-23 June. The European Council meeting will focus on security and defence, the internal market and economy, climate change, migration, and the digital agenda for Europe.
Lithuania’s Foreign Vice-Minister stressed the importance of strengthening of the EU cooperation in the field of security and defence to ensure transatlantic solidarity and a stronger partnership between the EU and NATO. “There is a need to increase our capabilities to respond to security challenges, especially to hybrid threats, cyber-attacks and terrorism,” said Zananavičius.
“When strengthening our permanent structured cooperation, we must strive for the involvement of all countries willing to cooperate. Therefore, the countries’ commitments are the most essential, not the criteria,” Lithuania’s Foreign Vice-Minister said.
The meeting discussed the importance of ensuring free and fair trade, which would contribute to economic growth and the wellbeing of people in the EU. “We speak up in favour of an open trading system based on multilaterally agreed rules, particularly of ensuring fair and equal competitive conditions within the EU internal market and the third countries,” the Vice-Minister noted.
The Council approved its work programme for the next 18 months. During this period it will be chaired by the Estonian, Bulgarian and Austrian presidencies. In addition, the Council meeting discussed the European Commission’s preparations of its 2018 work programme and guidelines for member states.
At the Council’s meeting in an EU27 format, which was dedicated to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Commission’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier informed the participants about the first round of Brexit negotiations with the UK that had taken place in Brussels on 19 June. The Ministers prepared the European Council on 22 June by discussing the state of play of the Brexit negotiations and the way ahead. The Council meeting also discussed the procedure for deciding on the relocation of the EU agencies currently situated in the UK: the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA).