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EU General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels

19 March 2024 News

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Elena Shekerletova represented Bulgaria at the regular meeting of the EU General Affairs Council, held today in Brussels. The agenda included preparations for the European Council meeting on 21—22 March, the European Semester and a discussion on the future of Europe.

European ministers discussed the draft conclusions for the upcoming regular March leaders' meeting on the issues:  Ukraine; Security and Defence; Middle East; Enlargement; External Relations; Migration and Agriculture.

‘The EU must send a strong message of resolute and long-term support for Ukraine at the upcoming European Council. Particular attention should be paid to security and stability in the Black Sea region, which are threatened by Moscow's actions’, Deputy Minister Elena Shekerletova said in her statement on the topic. On the ‘Security and Defence’ part, the focus of the European Council discussion is expected to be on the need to increase spending and boost defence production in the EU. On the topic ‘Enlargement’, the leaders are expected to discuss Bosnia and Herzegovina's progress on the basis of the European Commission's report of 13 March 2024, with a view to taking a possible decision to open negotiations. 'Bulgaria supports the European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a united, indivisible and sovereign state,' the Bulgarian deputy foreign minister emphasised. Among the important topics for Member States are the draft conclusions on ‘Agriculture’. The leaders are expected to discuss areas where common action is needed, including the reduction of administrative burdens, fair competition within the Internal Market and with third countries, autonomous trade measures (ATMs) with Ukraine. On the topic ‘Migration’, the leaders will review the state of play on the issue. Deputy Minister Shekerletova expressed her gratitude for the support of a number of member states for reporting Bulgaria's progress on the way to the euro area.

During the meeting, ministers held a strategic discussion on the future of the EU. It is expected on 20 March the European Commission to present its Communication on reforms in the context of the next EU enlargement and a review of EU policies, on the basis of which the discussion will continue in the coming months. The commitment is to adopt a roadmap for future work on this issue by June 2024.

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