Minister Stubb to the General Affairs Council
The EU General Affairs Council, convening in Brussels on Tuesday 28 February, will prepare the European Council meeting that will take place on 12 March. Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb will represent Finland at the General Affairs Council.
The European Council will focus on the next European semester. The European semester is a tool for the annual review of the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy. In the Strategy, the European Council identifies the main economic and employment policy challenges and provides guidance to the Member States.
In Finlands view, the role of the European Semester as a tool for political guidance and monitoring should be further developed and Member States' commitment to the process reinforced. For Finland, it is essential that greater attention be attached to ways with which to strengthen competitiveness.
Further improving the functioning of the Internal Market is key to competitiveness in Europe and, therefore, work on the completion of the digital single market should also continue. Despite the multifaceted nature of the digital operating environment, it is now important to come up with concrete legislative proposals.
Another Finnish priority is to develop the European innovation policy and facilitate work on new innovations and, particularly, as regards their entry into markets.
As part of the meeting preparations, Finland and other 11 EU Member States have signed a joint letter entitled 'A Plan for Growth in Europe' which was addressed to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Josť Manuel Barroso. In the letter, the Member States identify eight areas where the European Union should prioritise efforts, including the digital single market and the development of innovation policy. The countries urge that the implementation of the eight priority areas be discussed at the European Council meeting.
The General Affairs Council will also discuss Serbia's candidate country status for EU membership. The General Affairs Council will aim to reach a unanimous decision on grating a candidate country status to Serbia a decision which is to be reaffirmed at the March European Council. Finland supports the granting of the status.
Inquiries: Satu Keskinen, Counsellor, Adviser to the Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Prime Ministers Office, tel. +358 9 1602 2451 or +358 40 508 6722 and Antti Timonen, Press Attachť, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 40 590 7231 or firstname.lastname@example.org