PRESS RELEASE 138
European affairs ministers underline importance of internal market for economic recovery and agree to boost a more sustainable, competitive and resilient industrial policy, while speeding up digital transition
22/09/2020

The State Secretary for the European Union, Juan González-Barba, has taken part today in the EU’s General Affairs Council (GAC). The main aim of the meeting was to prepare for the upcoming extraordinary European Council meeting, primarily given over to economic questions – the internal market, industrial policy and digital affairs. The meeting of the Heads of State and Government is scheduled to be held next Thursday and Friday, but will foreseeably take place on 1 and 2 October.

The consensus of the ministers is that the exceptional measures adopted at July’s European Council through the establishment of the EU Next Generation instrument, with a total volume of funds of 750 billion euros, and the approval of the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, with a total volume of 1.07 trillion euros, should be accompanied by policies that boost the recovery, growth and the transformation of our economies. Strategic autonomy and economic openness also constitute key goals of the EU.

The ministers agreed on the need to re-establish the normal functioning of the internal market as soon as possible, and to eliminate obstacles, weaknesses and fragmentation that still exists in certain areas. The State secretary highlighted that the economic measures adopted within the framework of the EU, including the EU Next Generation instrument, will allow potential imbalances caused in the internal market to be offset by the Member States applying exceptional national economic measures as a result of the pandemic.

The ministers underlined that the EU must also develop an industrial policy that boosts sustainability, environmental protection, competitiveness in global markets and resilience. The crisis caused by the pandemic makes it even more necessary to speed up the digital transition.

The upcoming European Council will also address the EU’s external relations, including between the EU and China and Turkey, as well as foreseeably the situation in Belarus.

The ministers exchanged perspectives on the coordination of measures to restrict mobility within the EU in the context of the pandemic, and asked the Presidency to draw up a proposed Council Recommendation to this end.

The General Affairs Council also addressed future relations between the EU and the United Kingdom with the Vice-President of the Commission, Maros Sefcovic, and the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The Member States expressed their concern over the announcement of the United Kingdom’s new Internal Market Bill and reiterated the need for the Withdrawal Agreement to be correctly implemented. They also reiterated their unanimous support for the negotiating team and the aspiration for a broad and lasting agreement with the United Kingdom.

Lastly, the General Affairs Council addressed the situation of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, the EU’s annual and multi-annual legislative programme and the state of negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework with the European Parliament.

The State secretary took the opportunity to hold several meetings, with his French counterpart, Clément Beaune, with the European Commissioner for Budget, Johannes Hahn, and with the Secretary-General of the Council of the EU, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen.

 

 

-NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION-

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