Highlights from the General Affairs Council, taking place on 21 May 2019 in Brussels.
The Council started preparations for the European Council meeting to be held on 20-21 June.
At their meeting in June, EU leaders are expected to take decisions on appointments for the next institutional cycle and adopt the EU’s strategic agenda for 2019 to 2024. They will also focus their discussions on the next multiannual financial framework, climate change and country-specific recommendations under the European Semester process.
The June European Council will be the time for important decisions which will shape the future of the EU in the years to come. As presidency, we have done our utmost to facilitate the transition to the next institutional cycle and conclude work on as many legislative files as possible. We will continue to contribute actively to this process to encourage a strong and cohesive union, in line with the motto of our presidency.
George Ciamba, Romanian Minister Delegate for European Affairs
Multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027
The Council discussed the external action aspects of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. Ministers focused on the proposals from the European Commission on the integration of the European Development Fund into the EU budget and the ring-fencing of funds for the European Neighbourhood in the next MFF.
The debate will feed into preparations by the presidency for a revised draft negotiating box ahead of the June European Council.
Composition of the EU advisory bodies
The Council adopted, without discussion, two decisions concerning the composition of the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. The decisions adapt the composition of these EU advisory bodies from the start of their new mandates in 2020 taking into account the UK's withdrawal.
EU macro-regional strategies
The Council adopted conclusions on the implementation of EU macro-regional strategies, following the report submitted by the European Commission in January. The conclusions recognise the role of macro-regions in fostering socio-economic and territorial cohesion.
The Council adopted, without discussion, a directive setting new restrictions on certain single-use plastic products. The new directive is part of the EU's efforts to protect the environment from plastic pollution and reduce marine litter.
The Council adopted, without discussion, a new regulation on fertilisers. The regulation harmonises standards for fertilisers produced from organic or secondary raw materials in the EU, opening up new possibilities for their production and marketing on a large scale. It also sets harmonised limits for a range of contaminants, such as cadmium, contained in mineral fertilisers.