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Ministers for European affairs to discuss EU language regulation and start preparations for October European Council

Government Communications Department
Publication date 18.9.2023 17.30 | Published in English on 19.9.2023 at 8.40
Press release

The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet on Tuesday 19 September in Brussels. Their agenda will include discussing Spain's request to amend Regulation No 1/1958 (the EU language regulation), preparing for the European Council's October meeting, and continuing the GAC’s rule of law dialogue. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Anders Adlercreutz will represent Finland at the meeting.

The GAC will exchange views on a Council Regulation amending Regulation No 1 determining the languages to be used by the European Economic Community. On 17 August 2023, the Spanish Government made a request to include Catalan, Basque and Galician as the official languages of the EU. Finland has reservations about Spain's request to add its three regional languages to the Union's official and working languages. The EU currently has 24 official languages. The financial and administrative consequences along with the legal conditions of increasing the number of official languages must be carefully analysed. There is also a risk that it would slow down EU decision-making and delay the entry into force of EU legislation. Finland considers it important to safeguard cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union. The possibility of using less cumbersome ways to promote, at Union level, the rights of those speaking regional languages should also be explored.

The GAC will start preparations for the European Council meeting on 26–27 October by discussing the draft agenda. The October European Council will take stock of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the EU's support to Ukraine. Other topics on the agenda include a mid-term revision of the multiannual financial framework for 2021–2027, the economy and competitiveness, and migration. Heads of state or government will also take stock of the preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28). The GAC will take note of the agenda for the European Council and revisit it in more detail at its meeting of 24 October 2023. 

“For the sake of the EU's competitiveness, the single market needs to get back to normality. We relaxed state aid rules during the pandemic, but we must now accept that those days are over. The free movement of goods, labour and services along with competition neutrality are key concerns for Finland. The EU’s competitiveness will not benefit from the Member States using state aid to compete with each other for investments. It is crucial that the playing field returns to normal as soon as possible,” says Minister Adlercreutz.

Following the State of the Union address by Commission President von der Leyen, the ministers will discuss the Commission's letter of intent setting out the main elements guiding the preparation of the 2024 Commission work programme. The discussion will take place during a public debate. 

The GAC will continue its rule of law dialogue by holding a discussion on key developments to the rule of law in EU Member States, making use of the Commission’s 2023 rule of law report. In addition, the Spanish Presidency will inform the GAC of the progress made in the evaluation of the rule of law dialogue, which the Presidency launched in July 2023. Finland will continue its long-standing policy on rule of law issues, promoting the rule of law and the fight against corruption in the EU. Finland considers that the Commission's annual rule of law report, and the GAC's rule of law dialogue based on that, are essential means of strengthening the rule of law in 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