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State Secretary Ružička at the General Affairs Council on Further Steps in the Talks with the United Kingdom, March Summit of Leaders and the Enlargement Process

State Secretary Ružička at the General Affairs Council on Further Steps in the Talks with the United Kingdom, March Summit of Leaders and the Enlargement Process

25.2.2020 | Aktivity štátnych tajomníkov

On Tuesday, 25 February 2020, State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Ministry František Ružička attended the meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC).

 

An important result of the Council’s talks is the adoption of the negotiation mandate for the European Commission, based on which the talks on the future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom will be launched. In this context the State Secretary said:  “The United Kingdom remains a close partner even after Brexit, and we believe that the European Union has made the first step toward this ambitious partnership through the adoption of the negotiation mandate today. There is no time to lose with the negotiations, and it is necessary to work with maximum efficiency so that we have a new framework for the future relations from 2021. The mandate wording represents an acceptable compromise that includes all the substantial issues from the point of view of the Slovak Republic.”  Slovakia’s priorities in the negotiations are trade, transport, the coordination of social security, justice cooperation and fair conditions for economic operators on both sides of La Manche.

 

The member states also discussed the recently published proposal of the European Commission for the adoption of the accession process, the objective of which is to make the enlargement process more effective, more trustworthy and more foreseeable. The State Secretary welcomed its core principles; however, at the same time he warned that what is important is how it is to be practically worked out, since the result should not be to slow down the process.  “The amendment of the accession process is meaningful if the agreement on the changes will also bring about a consensus in the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. This is an issue of the credibility of the process. We believe that the anticipated evaluation reports of the European Commission will confirm the progress made by both countries in their reform efforts in the previous months.”  The discussion on these reports is expected to take place at the March session of the General Affairs Council.

 

The ministers and state secretaries for European affairs also devoted time to the preparation of the European Council which is to be held on 26-27 March 2020. The leaders will focus on several strategic topics including the strengthening of the economic basis, the digital agenda and the EU’s external relations. In this regard the State Secretary drew attention to the need to increase the security of the digital space by implementing 5G technologies.

 

In the context of the recently published working program of the European Commission for 2020, the member states also discussed the priority legislation and the initiatives for the upcoming year. The new element in the area of legislative planning is the multiannual programming that has a strategic role in solving key long-term challenges, such as the crisis of multilateralism and climate change. During the Council session the European Commission also provided information about the progress made in the preparation of the mechanism to protect the rule of law