Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:
I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting in Brussels on Tuesday 12 December. The main items on the agenda were: preparations for the December European Council on 14 and 15 December; a follow-up to the October European Council; legislative programming, covering the Joint Declaration on legislative priorities for 2018-19; and the European Semester, focusing on the Annual Growth Survey.
A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:
Preparation of the European Council, 14 to 15 December 2017
The Presidency introduced the agenda for the December European Council, which included: Defence; Social, Culture and Education; Migration; and External Relations. I intervened to welcome the Draft December conclusions as short and well balanced.
On the Defence agenda item, the Council were informed that NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg would attend the DEC to discuss EU-NATO cooperation. I intervened to emphasise the importance of EU-NATO cooperation. I also welcomed swift progress on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the attention given to the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP).
Ministers exchanged views on the Conclusions for the Social, Education and Culture agenda item. I stressed the importance of subsidiarity in this area and noted that economic strength and the creation of jobs are the best way to deliver social protection.
Under the Migration agenda item, Ministers discussed the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
October European Council follow-up
Commission Vice President Timmermans updated Ministers on the successful replenishment of the EU Africa Trust Fund (EUTF), which had exceeded the €110milion target set by Leaders in October. Vice President Timmermans also updated that cuts to Turkey’s pre-accession funding were a reflection of political developments in the country.
Legislative programming - joint declaration on interinstitutional programming
The Council approved the joint declaration on the EU's legislative priorities for 2018-2019. The priorities, which include views on annual interinstitutional programming, are due to be signed by the Presidents of the European Council, Commission and Parliament.
European Semester 2018 - Annual Growth Survey
The Commission introduced the Annual Growth Survey, which set out its priorities for action at national and EU-level over the next twelve months to support economic growth and employment.