PRESS RELEASE 163
State Secretary for EU attends informal GAC in Slovenia
23/07/2021
The State Secretary for the European Union, Juan González-Barba, took part today in Brdo, Slovenia, in the informal meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC) of the EU. The foreign affairs ministers focused their discussions on strengthening the European Union to deal with future crises and presented the priorities of the Slovenian Rotating Presidency.

During the first part of the informal meeting, the Slovenian State secretary, Gašper Dovžan, who currently heads up the General Affairs Council, set out the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency, stressing four areas of activity: recovery and resilience, with a particular focus on health and cybersecurity; the enlargement policy, with the holding of an EU-Western Balkans Summit in October; the rule of law as the hallmark of the European identity, and the activities related to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The second part of the meeting, which was also attended by the partners from the Western Balkans, focused on the horizontal features of reinforcing the EU’s resistance to the crisis which, due to its nature and scale exceeds the capacities of individual Member States and thus calls for a joint response.

In his speech, Juan González Barba expressed his support for the enlargement process towards the Western Balkans, and for the work of Slovenia with a view to its Rotating Presidency: we share the priorities to achieve a better prepared Europe to face future crises. Providing a coordinated response to future crises must become a situation that is a reflection of the EU, whether health crises, economic crises, climate events or cyberattacks. In the past, the EU has been guilty of acting reactively. Our duty is to be proactive and prepare ourselves at a European level through the development of the Health Union and the Green Deal, completing the Economic and Monetary Union, and strengthening our capacities in cybersecurity. The Conference on the Future of the Union is a great opportunity to boost this process.

The State secretary recalled the recent Hispano-Dutch non-paper on open strategic autonomy, which committed to combining the need for the EU to be better protected by being more autonomous, while maintaining its nature of an open economy.

-NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION-​​

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