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Ministers for European affairs to begin preparations for December European Council and discuss EU electoral law

Government Communications Department
Publication date 14.11.2023 15.41 | Published in English on 14.11.2023 at 15.58
Press release

The EU General Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on Wednesday 15 November. In the meeting, the council will begin preparations for the December European Council and discuss a wide range of other topical issues, such as the Commission’s work programme for 2024, rule of law issues, EU electoral law and Spain’s request for amendments to the regulation governing the EU’s language regime. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Anders Adlercreutz will represent Finland at the meeting.

The ministers will start preparing for the December European Council and exchange views on the annotated draft agenda. The December European Council will focus on Ukraine, the Middle East, EU enlargement, the mid-term revision of the multiannual financial framework, security and defence, and external relations.

“In the discussion on the Commission’s work programme, I will emphasise the need for the EU to return to a normal single market. It is the foundation and key strength of the EU. State aid in large countries distorts the market in a way that does not benefit the Union as a whole,” says Minister Adlercreutz.

The ministers will continue their exchange of views on the EU’s preparations for possible enlargement. The aim is to examine the impact of enlargement on EU policies, funding, institutions and decision-making. The European Council is developing a more detailed framework for discussions on the future of the EU.

“The Commission’s recently published enlargement package will take the discussion a step further. EU enlargement is a key issue for the future of the Union. Promoting the rule of law and combating corruption are crucial issues in the discussion on enlargement,” says Minister Adlercreutz.

The ministers will hold a policy debate on the European Parliament’s proposal for a reform of European electoral law. Like Finland, many Member States have expressed reservations about the European Parliament’s proposal. In addition to transnational electoral lists and the lead candidate procedure, concerns have been raised about the proposed joint election day (9 May), the general introduction of postal voting and the effects of the proposal on national election laws and traditions. It is not possible to revise the EU electoral law as proposed by Parliament in view of the 2024 elections.

During the meeting, the Commission will present its work programme for 2024 to the GAC. Finland’s main priorities with respect to the Commission’s 2024 work programme are the Commission communication on the climate target for 2040, the Commission communication on pre-enlargement reforms and policy reviews, and the European defence industry strategy.

The GAC will receive reports on the rule of law situation in Poland and respect for EU values in Hungary. No substantive decisions will be made at the meeting, nor will the GAC be formulating a position. Finland will continue its long-standing policy on rule of law issues, aiming to promote the rule of law and the fight against corruption in the EU. Democracy, the rule of law and fundamental and human rights are the foundation for all activities of the EU.

At the meeting, the ministers will receive a briefing on the state of play with regard to EU–UK relations. The ministers will also take stock of progress on the request by Spain to make Catalan, Basque and Galician official languages of the EU.

In the General Affairs Council (GAC), the EU Member States are primarily represented by their ministers for European affairs. The tasks of the GAC 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 GAC’s agenda. 

Inquiries: Heli Siivola, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 50 576 7745 and Andreas Elfving, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 50 310 0274, Prime Minister’s Office