20 Dec

At the General Affairs Council meeting on the 14th of December 2021, Hungary was represented by Minister Judit Varga and Minister Péter Szijjártó. The Council was chaired by Gašper Dovžan, Slovenian Secretary of State for EU Affairs, and the Commission was represented by Vice-Presidents Dubravka Šuica and Věra Jourová, and Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi.

Preparation of the European Council on 16 December 2021

The General Affairs Council held an exchange of views about the preparation of the upcoming European Council meeting on the 16th of December based on the Draft Conclusions. The Ministers focused the discussion on the Covid-19 pandemic, energy prices, crisis management and resilience, security and defence, migration and external relations.

Enlargement and the stabilisation and association process

The Ministers approved the Council conclusions on the enlargement and stabilisation and association process. They also took stock of the progress made in each of the candidates and potential candidate countries, set out guidelines on reform priorities, and reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to enlargement. In the margins of the General Affairs Council, Intergovernmental Conferences with Montenegro and Serbia took place on 13 and 14 December with opening a new negotiating cluster with Serbia.

Conference on the Future of Europe

The presidency informed ministers of the state of play as regards the Conference on the Future of Europe, pointing to the challenges posed by the current epidemiological situation. The focus is now fully on substance with the citizens delivering their first recommendations (https://futureu.europa.eu/assemblies/citizens-panels). The next plenary session of the Conference is expected to take place in January (https://futureu.europa.eu/pages/plenary). All EU citizens can contribute to shaping their own future and that of Europe as a whole on the digital platform (https://futureu.europa.eu/?locale=en).

Rule of law in Poland

The Council held state of play on the rule of law in Poland under the Article 7 (1) TEU procedure, during which the European Commission reported on the developments following the last hearing in June 2021 concerning the rule of law situation in Poland, on which the Polish side presented its position.

Rule of law in Hungary

The Council held a state of play on the rule of law in Hungary under the Article 7 (1) TEU procedure, during which the European Commission, reported on the developments following the last hearing in June 2021 concerning the rule of law situation in Hungary, to which Minister Judit Varga presented the Hungarian position.

Fight against antisemitism

At the initiative of Hungary, ministers exchanged views on the fight against antisemitism on the basis of the report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) - Antisemitism: overview of antisemitic incidents in the European Union 2010-2020 -, presented by Michael O’Flaherty, Director of FRA. All Member States who took the floor underlined the importance of the fight against antisemitism and the need to make further efforts.

Legislative priorities for 2022

The Council approved the text of the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on the EU Legislative Priorities for 2022, which will be signed by the Presidents of the EU institutions at the margin of the meeting of the European Council on 16 December 2021. Hungary and Poland did not agree to the approval of the Joint Declaration in view of its findings on the rule of law and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Hungary and Poland recalled that the value of the rule of law should not be used to exert political pressure in ways that do not comply with the basic requirements of rule of law themselves. The application of existing instruments should duly respect the principle of equal treatment. These principles shall apply also to the use of the NextGenerationEU, and the Recovery and Resilience Facility and as regards the approval of the recovery and resilience plans of each Member State as well. Due to the politically motivated delay in the approval of their RRPs, it is evident that these conditions are not met currently, so the two Member States were not in a position to agree to the approval of the Joint Declaration.

European Semester 2022

The incoming French Presidency and the Commission gave an overview of the 2022 European Semester cycle, in which the most meaningful modification will be the late publication of the country reports.

Eighteen-month programme of the Council

Ministers endorsed the Council's eighteen-month programme, which is based on defending citizens' freedoms, fundamental European values and the rule of law; ensuring an effective boost to green and sustainable growth; building a climate-neutral and green Europe; and promoting Europe's interests and values in the world. France will hold the rotating presidency of the Council from January to June 2022, Czequia from July to December 2022 and Sweden from January to June 2023.