Rule of law dialogue
Ministers held for the first time a debate as part of the annual rule of law dialogue, focusing on the situation in 5 specific Member States. Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark and Estonia were the first countries in which key developments were examined [protocol order].
One of the elements of the discussion was the European Commission's first annual report on rule of law, issued last September, which covered four topics: justice systems; the anti-corruption framework; media pluralism; other institutional issues linked to checks and balances.
The country-specific discussion is a completely new element in the annual Council's Rule of Law Dialogue. The intention is to create a positive and constructive atmosphere, where problematic developments can be identified before it is too late and where best practices can be exchanged. We thereby want to establish a preventive dialogue and develop a common understanding on the rule of law, which belongs to the core of the EU‘s values.
Michael Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Europe
The German presidency informed ministers about the state of play of the discussions on the general EU position and the procedures for accession negotiations in relation to the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Albania. A negotiating framework is required in order to formally open accession talks with a candidate country. The presidency’s aim is to have the negotiating frameworks and the internal arrangements approved in time to be able to hold the first intergovernmental conferences with the two candidate countries in 2020, if conditions are met, this being the step that officially launches the procedure.
Next multiannual financial framework and the recovery package
Ministers took stock of the developments regarding the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) and the recovery package.
On 5 November, the presidency and the European Parliament's negotiators reached a provisional agreement on a new general regime of conditionality to protect the Union budget. The trilateral contacts with the European Parliament and the Commission aimed at securing the Parliament's consent to the MFF regulation were concluded on 10 November. This allowed for the full package to be submitted to the member states for endorsement.
During the discussion, ministers regretted that new obstacles had emerged in the approval process, which were putting at risk a timely adoption the next multiannual financial framework and the recovery package. Several speakers underlined the seriousness of the situation and called for a responsible approach from all against the backdrop of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made EU programmes and financial support particularly important for citizens, businesses and the economic recovery.
December European Council
Ministers discussed the agenda for the European Council meeting to be held on 10-11 December. The European Council will take stock of the situation and discuss the overall coordination effort that has been delivered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including work on vaccines and testing.
The European Council will return to the issue of climate change with a view to agreeing a new EU emissions reduction target for 2030 and will address security issues and in particular the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
The European Council will also return to the matter of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey.
-17 November 2020