State Secretary Dovžan in a meeting with State Secretaries for EU Affairs of the Presidency Trio
At the invitation of Michael Roth, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office, a video conference meeting of state secretaries for EU affairs of the Trio presidency Germany-Portugal-Slovenia was held tonight. The state secretaries exchanged views on the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and called for further coordinated action at Union level, particularly with regard to the vaccine and testing. The latter will also be the topic of a video conference meeting of Heads of State and Governments to be held on 19 November.
The state secretaries discussed the European Commission's Work Programme 2021 in the context of priorities outlined in the Trio’s 18-month programme. State Secretary Roth shared Germany’s experience gained so far during its tenure of the Presidency of the EU Council in the challenging circumstances of the pandemic, which have also had a major impact on the presidency itself.
They highlighted the necessity to reach an agreement on the multiannual financial framework and the recovery instrument at the earliest possible opportunity, stressing that the agreement with the European Parliament had to reflect European Council conclusions from July 2020. For a successful recovery from the pandemic, in addition to financial resources, the Union would also need to strengthen the European Social Pillar and redouble efforts for an overall green transition and digital transformation, they agreed.
As one of Slovenia’s main priorities during its Presidency of the Council, State Secretary Dovžan also mentioned reinforcing the EU’s mechanisms to deal more effectively with various crisis situations, which by their nature or scope, exceed the capacities of single Member States. Besides the pandemic, they include various forms of modern security threats, such as large-scale cyber attacks, the deliberate dissemination of false news and untruths with the purpose of achieving various political goals, and irregular migration flows.
The state secretaries discussed the status of some current dossiers, which will also feature on the agenda of the next two Trio partners, Portugal and Slovenia – the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Asylum and Migration Pact, and ambitions to achieve a climate-neutral Union by 2050. As talks turned to the continuation of the Western Balkans’ enlargement process, the counterparts called for negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania to be opened as soon as possible, in line with Council conclusions from March 2020.
In conclusion, they expressed support for the work of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and voiced hope that, despite difficult negotiations, an agreement on future relations with the United Kingdom would be reached in a timely manner.