European affairs ministers to discuss Commission’s election integrity package and priorities of French EU Council Presidency
The EU General Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on 25 January. Topics on the agenda for the meeting will include the Commission’s legislative package to strengthen democracy and election integrity, the priorities of the French EU Council Presidency, progress on the Conference on the Future of Europe, the EU’s COVID-19 response measures and relations between the EU and the UK. Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen will represent Finland at the meeting.
In the public session of the meeting, the ministers will hold a discussion on the legislative package published by the Commission on 25 November 2021, which aims to reinforce the democracy and integrity of elections. The objective of the election package is to improve the functioning of European democracy and combat hybrid influencing. Finland agrees with the Commission that inappropriate influencing of elections is a serious threat that, should it materialise, leads to distrust in the electoral system and the functioning of democracy as a whole.
At the meeting, the French EU Council Presidency will present its priorities: improving European sovereignty, promoting a new European growth model and building a more socially oriented Europe. During the French Presidency, the General Affairs Council will focus in particular on coordinating COVID-19 response measures, improving the EU’s resilience and preparedness for crises and strengthening European democracy, and on questions related to the rule of law.
The Presidency will brief the Council on the progress of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The conference is involving citizens in a debate on the future challenges and opportunities of the EU. The worsened COVID-19 situation has delayed the conference process; however, the conference is still scheduled to wrap up on Europe Day, 9 May 2022. The European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission will then follow up on the conclusions reached at the conference.
In their meeting, the ministers will assess the state of the coordination of COVID-19 measures at the European level. In Finland’s view, the production and distribution of vaccines must be ramped up further and different population groups and potential vaccine hesitancy should be taken into account in targeted communications. Finland is strongly committed to the vaccine solidarity. Improving the global availability of vaccines is essential in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council will receive an update from the Commission on EU-UK relations, particularly the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and the related discussions between the EU and the UK. No decisions will be made on the matter.
In the General Affairs Council (GAC), the EU Member States are primarily represented by their ministers for 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 related 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 50 576 7745, Saara Pokki, Special Adviser, tel. +358 45 679 6363, Prime Minister’s Office