General Affairs Council discusses external action aspects of next Multiannual Financial Framework21 May 2019 News
Deputy Foreign Minister Emilia Kraleva took part in a regular meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels on May 21. The next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the preparations for the European Council meeting in June were the key topics on the meeting’s agenda.
The discussion of the MFF for 2021-2027 focused on its external action aspects and specifically the funding of the development policy and the European Neighborhood Policy. The ministers exchanged views regarding the proposal to include the European Development Fund (EDF) within the framework of a new Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument. Also discussed was a proposal to allocate funds under the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI) while considering the possibility to transfer funds to other geographical or thematic pillars.
As the EU needs a strong, consistent and adequately funded foreign policy, Bulgaria supports in principle the proposal to simplify the architecture of the relevant instruments since this would enable a more focused utilization of resources, said Deputy Minister Emilia Kraleva. At the same time we believe that specifically the European Development Fund must remain an instrument having its own budget outside the IDF, while the European Neighborhood Instrument should be preserved within its present scope. It is important for us that the necessary resources would be channeled towards our partners of the Eastern and Southern Neighborhood, because it is through such resources that the EU promotes reforms, stability and security in those countries, which is of crucial importance for the security of the EU.
The General Affairs Council also began preparations for the European Council meeting in June by reviewing the draft agenda for the meeting. The discussion among the leaders is expected to focus on several key issues: adoption of the future Strategic Agenda of the EU, MFF, the fight against climate change, the implementation of the Action Plan against Disinformation, and the EU enlargement.
In her intervention the Bulgarian representative supported the list of topics to be brought to the leaders’ attention. With respect to the MFF, we reaffirm our preference for an agreement to be reached in the autumn of 2019. The timely negotiation of the EU budget is important for the trouble-free launch of the programs and will enable the European citizens and regions to avail themselves to the fullest extent possible of the EU funds. As for climate change, we believe that before we discuss a possible revision of the set goals, we’d better focus on attaining them. The EU enlargement remains a priority topic for Bulgaria and should continue to occupy a prominent place on the European agenda. We support the start of negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania, subject to their fulfilment of the criteria, and we also expect to see the assessment of the progress made by all candidate countries in the report of the European Commission due out by the end of this month. Among the preconditions for starting negotiations, in our view, priority should be given to the good neighborly relations and the fulfilment of treaties.
Within the framework of the meeting, the EC presented its communication on the further strengthening of the rule of law in the Union. For its part, the French delegation reported on the ministerial meeting on the preservation of the European cultural heritage held in Paris in early May.