General Affairs Council of the 27th of March

Main results

March European Council

The Council began preparations for the European Council meeting on 22 and 23 March by discussing an annotated draft agenda. The meeting will focus on measures to strengthen growth, create new jobs and improve competitiveness.

The European Council is expected to adopt conclusions addressing:

  • progress made in further developing the single market, the Digital Single Market, the Capital Markets Union and the Energy Union
  • the 2018 European Semester
  • social issues, such as the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the upcoming Commission proposal on a European Labour Authority
  • (possibly) trade

It will also adopt procedural conclusions on the forthcoming EU-Western Balkans Summit.

As part of the Leaders’ Agenda, the heads will hold a debate on taxation, in particular in the digital economy.

Rule of law in Poland

The Commission presented its reasoned proposal under Article 7(1) TEU concerning the rule of law in Poland.

The presentation forms part of the first phase of the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU. In parallel, the Commission is pursuing a dialogue with the Polish authorities and has issued recommendations to them for action by 20 March.

The next steps in the procedure will depend on the outcome of this dialogue. The Council will revert to this issue in due course.

We encourage the continuation of the dialogue between the European Commission and Poland. A positive outcome would help the Union to focus on the agenda we need to take forward in 2018.

Ekaterina Zaharieva, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister


The Council adopted without discussion a regulation to ban unjustified geo-blocking in the internal market.

Geo-blocking is a discriminatory practice that prevents online customers from accessing and purchasing products or services from a website based in another member state. The new law will remove barriers to e-commerce by avoiding discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.

The end of geo-blocking means wider choice and consequently better deals for consumers and more opportunities for businesses. The Bulgarian presidency attaches great importance to the digital economy. I want to compliment previous presidencies, the Parliament and the Commission for the collective success in taking forward the European Digital Single Market.

Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU

EU emissions trading system

The Council approved without discussion the reform of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) for the period after 2020.

The revised ETS directive is a significant step towards the EU reaching its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, as agreed under the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework, and fulfilling its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

As Presidency we will work towards retaining the EU’s leading role in the negotiations on the conclusion of the implementation rules of the Paris Agreement. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not only contribute to the fight against climate change but it will also positively impact the improvement of the air quality. Protecting the environment and the health of European citizens is one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency.

Neno Dimov, Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Water