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State Secretary Marn attends GAC in Brussels

In Brussels, State Secretary Matej Marn attended today’s General Affairs Council, which launched the March European Council preparations and discussed the topics of EU enlargement and legislative planning. At the meeting, the ministers and state secretaries also agreed to authorise the opening of negotiations on a new partnership with the United Kingdom and learnt about the new European Commission's plans for monitoring the development of the rule of law in the EU.

State Secretary Matej Marn at the General Affairs Council

State Secretary Matej Marn at the General Affairs Council

The ministers and state secretaries for European affairs exchanged views on the draft agenda of the European Council, to be held on 26–27 March 2020 in Brussels, which will mainly focus on economic issues, digital transformation, EU enlargement and foreign policy. State Secretary Marn advocated a further deepening of the EU’s single market and supported the idea of ensuring a level playing field for all participants on the market, especially in relation to services. He was also in favour of improving the EU’s business environment for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, mainly by promoting cross-border transactions, removing administrative obstacles and ensuring better access to funding. Furthermore, he welcomed the efforts for the development of competitive, safe, and ethical digital and data economies. According to the State Secretary, it is imperative to authorise the opening of accession negotiations talks with North Macedonia and Albania as early as possible.

The General Affairs Council adopted a decision authorising the European Commission to open negotiations on a new partnership with the United Kingdom and to propose negotiation guidelines. The EU and the UK are expected to cooperate in the fields of trade, economy, law enforcement, foreign affairs, and security and defence, among others. Favouring the Council’s decision, Slovenia advises the European Commission to immediately enter into negotiations and keep the EU member states fully informed about any new developments.

Members of the General Affairs Council also discussed the EU enlargement. They welcomed the European Commission's message, offering suggestions for the improvement of the enlargement process. In the discussion, State Secretary Marn stressed that the methodology renewal must run in parallel with making decisions about the opening of accession negotiations with the candidate countries, Macedonia and Albania. He welcomed the proposal to reinforce the enlargement process on the political level and the Commission's announcement to enhance economic incentives for the region.

The Council paid particular attention to the discussion on legislative planning within the EU and this year’s work programme for the Commission. State Secretary Marn pointed out that the legislation must not only be tailored to the specific needs and expectations of citizens and the economic sector but also reflect the desire to tackle challenges. He embraced the prediction for the year ahead stating that the Commission will specifically address the circular economy and the development of sector-specific policies aimed at working towards a climate-neutral, green, just and social Europe; furthermore, it will advocate accelerating work in terms of the legislative package concerning the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. The State Secretary spoke in favour of accelerating the renewal of legislative dossiers that are vital for the functioning of the Schengen system.

Under AOB, the Commission informed the Council about the preparations for the annual rule of law cycle and report in the EU.