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Ministers for European affairs to prepare for June European Council and discuss situation with regard to rule of law

Government Communications Department
21.6.2021 15.03 | Published in English on 21.6.2021 at 16.16
Press release 398/2021

In its meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday 22 June, the EU General Affairs Council will discuss the preparations for the European Council taking place on 24–25 June. Other items on the agenda include EU enlargement, hearings on the rule of law in Poland and Hungary and the Conference on the Future of Europe. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen will represent Finland at the meeting.

The topics of the June European Council will be the EU’s COVID-19 response, economic recovery, migration and external relations, including relations with Turkey and Russia.

Finland supports the development of the EU Digital COVID Certificate and the objective of opening up Europe for safe travel. It is also important to discuss the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis so that the EU can be better and more comprehensively prepared for crises moving forward. From the point of view of Europe’s economic recovery, it is essential for structural reforms and public investments to form clear entities in the Member States’ recovery and resilience plans. With regard to migration, Finland’s view is that comprehensive, common European solutions are necessary in order to meet the internal needs of the EU and address the root causes of migration. Finland stresses that the EU must pursue its policy on Turkey on a consistent and long-term basis. Coherence is also very important when it comes to the EU’s policy on Russia. 

“In addition to managing the pandemic, we need to set our sights on the future. The EU Digital COVID Certificate, which will soon be introduced, will hopefully help to open Europe up for safe travel. Now is also the time to begin discussing the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic so we can be better prepared for emergencies in the future. In addition to the activities of the health sector, we need to ensure preparedness at the borders, security of supply, the functioning of the single market and effective decision-making in times of crisis,” Minister Tuppurainen said.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the situation with regard to EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. Stability in the region is important for the EU and Finland. The reforms required to meet the accession criteria help to modernise societies and benefit citizens even before membership. The EU perspective is important, especially for young people in the region. In Finland’s view, the negotiating frameworks concerning the accession of Albania and North Macedonia should be adopted in order to make progress on the accession process. 

The agenda for the meeting also includes hearings with Poland and Hungary on the rule of law in the countries. No substantive decisions will be made, nor will the Council formulate a position at this time. Finland will continue to exert influence to ensure that the EU’s common values are strictly adhered to. Democracy, the rule of law and fundamental and human rights are the foundation for all activities of the EU.

Also at the meeting, the Portuguese Council Presidency will brief the Council on the citizens’ event held on 17 June in Lisbon as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe and on the inaugural plenary of the conference held on 19 June in Strasbourg. 

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 relating to the rule of law are also an established part of the Council’s agenda. 

Inquiries: Heli Siivola, Senior Specialist for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 476, and Pilvi-Elina Kupias, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 160 995, Prime Minister’s Office