General Affairs Council, 11/12/2018


Main results

Next multiannual financial framework

The Council held a policy debate on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. Ministers exchanged views on the main issues on the table and the timetable for the negotiations. Their discussion took into account two documents prepared under the responsibility of the Austrian presidency – a progress report and a draft negotiating box.

The negotiating box is a tool used for structuring and facilitating the negotiation process on the MFF. It brings together those elements which are most likely to require political guidance from the leaders with a view to the Council reaching its position. It is discussed and constantly updated as negotiations move forward.

Having the MFF on every agenda of the GAC has paid off: the Austrian presidency today presented a presidency progress report and a draft negotiating box. Ministers had a constructive debate and shared their views ahead of the first substantial debate on the MFF among the leaders later this week.

Gernot Blümel, Austrian federal minister for the EU, art, culture and media

December European Council

The Council finalised preparations for the European Council meeting on 13-14 December by discussing draft conclusions covering:

  • next multiannual financial framework
  • single market
  • migration
  • external relations
  • climate change
  • security and defence
  • disinformation
  • fight against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia
  • citizens’ dialogues and consultations

Article 7 proceedings

The Council held a hearing under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland. The modalities for the hearing were the same as at the meetings of the General Affairs Council on 26 June and 18 September 2018.

Ministers also exchanged views on the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU on the respect for EU values in Hungary.

As part of this procedure, the Council has received from Hungary its written contribution on the issues raised by the Parliament. The Commission has provided a factual contribution on pending infringement procedures against Hungary.

Council programme for the next 18 months

The Council endorsed its programme for the next 18 months, from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020. The programme was prepared by the incoming Romanian, Finnish and Croatian Presidencies and the High Representative, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Council.

At the beginning of 2019 the main priority will be the finalisation of the outstanding files from the current Strategic Agenda and in particular those listed in the Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2018-19. When the new institutional cycle starts, the three presidencies will organise the work in the Council according to the priorities of the next Strategic Agenda, which is expected to be adopted in 2019, and taking into account the outcome of the Sibiu summit.

EU budget for 2019

The Council endorsed without discussion the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2019. The total commitments are set at €165.8 billion, which is an increase of 3.2% compared with 2018. Payments amount to €148.2 billion, 2.4% more than in 2018.

This is a solid budget which boosts support for the EU’s priorities, ensures strong European added value and keeps sufficient margins in case new needs arise next year. It will help to effectively manage migration, benefit researchers and young people, and support economic growth across Europe.

Hartwig Löger, minister for finance of Austria and chief Council negotiator for the 2019 EU budget