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Deputy Minister Velislava Petrova participated in a meeting of the EU General Affairs Council

20 September 2022 News

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Velislava Petrova participated in the regular meeting of the EU General Affairs Council, which took place today in Brussels. The agenda included the preparation of the upcoming European Council meeting on 20 and 21 October 2022, follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe, EU-UK relations, the annual Rule of Law Dialogue, the annual legislative programming and the priorities of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.

In the framework of the preparation of the meeting of the European Council on October 20 and 21, 2022, Russian aggression in Ukraine and energy issues emerged as the main highlights. European ministers made a strong call for continued political, military and financial support for Ukraine in response to Russian aggression. Deputy Minister Petrova focused on EU unity in support of Ukraine's efforts to counter Russian aggression. She emphasized the importance of getting the public messages right regarding EU's approach to the war in Ukraine against any attempts at disinformation. Work is underway on the long-term recovery of Ukraine in cooperation with international donors and financial organizations, and an international conference on the topic will be held in Berlin on October 25, 2022. The ministers emphasized the need to bring to justice those guilty of war crimes in Ukraine.

In the Energy part, strong support was received for accelerated work on the draft Regulation on emergency measures to deal with high energy prices. The goal is for the regulation to be adopted before the European Council in October, where leaders can discuss additional measures. "We expect the regulation to reflect the specifics, interests and energy profiles of all member states, including net exporters of electricity, such as Bulgaria," the Bulgarian deputy minister pointed out. The EC confirmed that, at the insistence of a large number of Member States, it is working as a priority on a proposal to change the current market model and unbundle gas and electricity prices, which is expected to be presented as soon as possible in 2023. Another important topic was the imposition of a cap on gas prices.

The External Relations section focused on EU-China relations, underlining the key importance of EU unity.

Ministers continued to discuss the follow-up to the final report on the results of the Conference on the Future of Europe. "Effective follow-up actions, corresponding to the expectations of European citizens, are necessary", the deputy minister pointed out. "Many of the proposals relate to policies and outcomes achievable within the current EU treaty framework. The full potential of the Treaty of Lisbon should first be used before any changes are considered. We declare to preserve the consensus as a way of making decisions in the areas of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU enlargement policy and the tax policy." The discussion on the topic will continue within the next Council meetings.

The European ministers also exchanged views on the EC's Annual Report on the state of the rule of law in the EU. "For us, this rule of law mechanism is a useful tool for improving coordination and integration in this area, as well as for exchanging good practices in the fight against corruption and upholding the rule of law," said Deputy Minister Petrova. Bulgaria informs about the established National Coordination Mechanism for the rule of law and the Council for its implementation. Professional and non-governmental organizations will be included in the work of the relevant Council. Cooperation with the Venice Commission on part of the planned reforms was also noted.

The Council also held a discussion on the annual legislative programming process, emphasizing the EU's priority areas of action for 2023. Bulgaria expressed its expectation that by the end of this year, a decision will be made on the country's accession to the Schengen area.

Within the framework of the General Affairs Council meeting, the Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister met with his German, Romanian and Greek colleagues Ana Lührman, Daniela Grigore Geitman and Miltiadis Varviciotis on current topics on the European agenda.


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