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Ministers for European affairs to continue rule of law dialogue and discuss measures to defend democracy

Government Communications Department
Publication date 26.1.2024 19.30 | Published in English on 29.1.2024 at 11.22
Press release

The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet in Brussels on Monday 29 January. Items on the agenda will include the priorities of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Defence of European Democracy legislative package and the Council’s annual rule of law dialogue. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Anders Adlercreutz will represent Finland at the meeting.

In the public session of the meeting, the current Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU will present the priorities of its Presidency, which are the following: 1) defending the rule of law, democracy and unity, 2) strengthening European competitiveness, 3) pursuing a green and just transition, 4) reinforcing the social and health agenda, 5) protecting people and borders, and 6) promoting a global Europe.

The public session will continue with a policy debate on the ‘Defence of European Democracy’ package adopted by the Commission in December 2023. The goal is to hold a preliminary discussion on the Commission’s proposal for a directive on transparency of interest on behalf of third countries. The ministers will also hold a broader debate on protecting democracy, improving the sustainability of election procedures and promoting citizens’ participation. Finland’s goal is to strengthen democracy, inclusion and trust in society in line with the Government Programme. Finland is still formulating its position on the matter.

“Defending a free society and democracy is one of the most important issues we are dealing with right now. Europe is facing clear threats of disinformation, and as the European Parliament elections approach, this is both central and topical. I am therefore pleased that the Belgian Presidency has prioritised the issue and that we will be able to discuss it in the Council,” says Minister Adlercreutz.

In addition, the GAC will continue its annual rule of law dialogue with a discussion on the country chapters for Spain, France, Croatia and Italy in the Commission’s Rule of Law Report. 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. The GAC’s rule of law dialogue based on the Commission’s annual Rule of Law Report is an essential means of strengthening the rule of law in the European Union.

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 Crista Grönroos, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 441 4257, Prime Minister’s Office