23 Feb

At the General Affairs Council meeting on 22 February 2022, Hungary was represented by State Secretary Oszkár Ökrös. The Council was chaired by Clément Beaune, French Secretary of State for EU Affairs, and the Commission was represented by Vice-Presidents Dubravka Šuica, Věra Jourová and Maroš Šefčovič, and Commissioner Didier Reynders.

Preparation of the European Council on 24-25 March 2022

The General Affairs Council held an exchange of views about the preparation of the upcoming European Council meeting on 24-25 March 2022 based on the Annotated Draft Agenda. The Ministers focused the discussion on the external relations, especially the latest developments of the RU-UA crisis, the security and defence, the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Semester, and energy prices.

Conference on the Future of Europe

At the General Affairs Council meeting on 22 February 2022, the ministers held an exchange of views on the last steps of the Conference on the Future of Europe (https://futureu.europa.eu/?locale=en). The French Presidency and the ministers emphasized that the citizens must remain at the heart of the process, that the final document of the Conference and the conclusions included therein should be drawn up in the light of their recommendations. It was emphasized that the process should be based on the principles of transparency and inclusiveness. The closing event of the Conference will take place on 9 May 2022, on Europe Day.

Enhancement of preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises

Ministers held an orientation debate on the enhancement of preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises. Member States unanimously underlined that the European Union must be prepared to face crises of various nature in the future, and that the early identification of emerging crises need to be improved in order to enhance the Union’s preparedness for crises.

Rule of law in Poland

The Council held a hearing on the rule of law in Poland in the procedure under Article 7 (1) TEU. The hearing, conducted pursuant to the standard modalities approved by the Council in 2019, covered the topics set out in the European Commission's reasoned proposal that had triggered the procedure.

EU-UK relations

The Council was briefed by the Commission on the state of play in EU-UK relations. Vice President Šefčovič reported on the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 21 February, which discussed issues related to the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement, with a special focus on citizens’ rights and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The protection of journalists in the EU

Commemorating the fourth anniversary of the deaths of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Slovakia requested a discussion on the situation of journalists in the EU and submitted further proposals on their protection.