General Affairs Council |19th March 2019 | Main Results: MFF, European Semester, March EU Council, Brexit | EU Council Press

Main results

Next multiannual financial framework

Ministers held a policy debate on the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027 (MFF). They provided their views on the measures envisaged in the MFF on climate mainstreaming and migration.

The shared objective is to provide the June European Council with a streamlined draft negotiating box, with a view to achieving an agreement in the European Council in autumn 2019. The draft negotiating box brings together those elements which are most likely to require political guidance from the EU leaders with a view to the Council reaching its position.

The Presidency also presented to the Council a progress report outlining developments achieved in the negotiations on MFF-related sectoral proposals.

Work on the MFF is steadily progressing. Today’s discussion on climate mainstreaming and migration addressed some of the key elements in the proposed MFF and will feed into the leaders’ discussion in June. At the same time, the common understandings reached by the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council with the current European Parliament on MFF related sectoral programmes will contribute later on to the preparation and timely implementation of the next programmes.

George Ciamba, Romanian Minister Delegate for European Affairs

Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance

Ministers agreed a partial general approach on the Regulation establishing the instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III). 

IPA III is a part of the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027. It supports the beneficiaries in adopting and implementing key political, institutional, social and economic reforms to comply with EU values and to progressively align to its rules, standards and policies. 

The agreed text does not cover financial and horizontal issues which will depend on the overall agreement on the next multiannual financial framework.

March European Council 

The Council finalised preparations for the European Council meeting on 21 and 22 March by discussing draft conclusions. 

The Spring European Council will focus on strengthening the European economic base. EU leaders will also discuss climate change, the upcoming summit with China and ways to tackle disinformation. 

At the start of the meeting, the representative of the Member State currently holding the presidency of the Council, will provide an overview of progress on the implementation of earlier European Council conclusions.

European Semester

The Council examined a presidency report summarising the contributions of the Council configurations on the 2019 European Semester package. The European economy is entering its sixth year of uninterrupted growth. However, further action is still needed to protect the economy from global instability and medium- and long-term challenges.

The Council also agreed to forward a draft recommendation to the European Council inviting the euro area member states to pursue policies aimed at boosting economic growth in 2019-2020.

Brexit contingency measures 

The Council adopted without discussion a series of legislative acts as part of its contingency preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit scenario.

The aim of these acts is to limit the most severe damage caused by a disorderly Brexit in specific sectors where it would create a major disruption for citizens and businesses, such as social security, youth mobility, transport and fisheries.

These measures are temporary in nature, limited in scope and adopted unilaterally by the EU. They are in no way intended to replicate the full benefits of EU membership or the terms of any transition period, as provided for in the withdrawal agreement. In some areas, they are conditional upon the UK’s reciprocal action.

Preventing misuse of personal data in EP elections 

The Council adopted without discussion new rules aimed at preventing European political parties from misusing personal data in EP elections.

The rules will allow for financial sanctions to be imposed on European political parties and foundations that deliberately influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of EP elections by taking advantage of breaches of data protection rules.