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Ministers for European Affairs to prepare for upcoming European Council

Government Communications Department 21.9.2020 15.50
Press release 595/2020

The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet in Brussels on Tuesday, 22 September. At the meeting, the GAC will prepare for the Special European Council meeting on 24-25 September. The ministers will also receive progress reports on the processing of the financial framework and recovery package and on the negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen will represent Finland at the meeting.

In preparation for the Special European Council, the ministers will discuss the Council’s draft conclusions. Items on the agenda for the upcoming Special European Council include the single market, industrial policy and the digital transformation, along with the EU’s external relations. In Finland’s view, it is important for the European Council to provide comprehensive guidance for further work on the single market, industrial policy and the digital transformation. As far as external relations are concerned, the discussions on Turkey and China must be strategic and comprehensive in nature.

At the meeting, the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union will present a progress report on the financial framework and recovery package. The European Council reached an agreement on the EU’s upcoming multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021–2027 and on a new recovery instrument at its special meeting in July. Since then, the German Presidency of the Council has initiated discussions with the European Parliament with a view to finalising the package.

The Council will hear a progress report from EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier on the negotiations between the EU and the UK. There is no need to change Finland’s or the EU’s positions at this stage.

At the meeting, the Commission will present its plans for its 2021 work programme. In Finland’s view, the green and digital transition must be a cross-cutting objective and the starting point for all work towards an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable Europe.

The Council will also hold an exchange of views on the EU’s coordination in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Finland supports the objective of enhancing coordination between Member States in implementing measures to restrict the free movement of persons due to the COVID-19 pandemic and considers it important to provide clear information on these measures at the EU level.

The Council will also hear situation reports on the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. It is important that the EU Member States are fully committed to the common values of the Union. Finland takes the violation or the danger of violation of the values on which the EU is founded very seriously.

“The entire EU toolkit is needed in order to strengthen the rule of law. The strong linkage of the Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery package to compliance with the rule of law, as negotiated at the summer summit, is something Finland will adhere to strictly,” Minister Tuppurainen says.

In the General Affairs Council (GAC), the EU Member States are primarily represented by their own ministers of European affairs. The tasks of the Council include preparations for the European Council meetings. The GAC is also responsible for a number of cross-cutting policy areas, including negotiations on the multiannual financial framework and EU enlargement. Questions relating to the rule of law are also an established part of the Council’s agenda.

Inquiries: Heli Siivola, Senior Specialist for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 476 and Pilvi-Elina Kupias, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 160 995, Prime Minister’s Office

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