State Secretary Dovžan at General Affairs Council meeting on preparations for European Council meeting and latest developments in EU-UK negotiations
State Secretary Gašper Dovžan took part in the EU General Affairs Council video conference. At today’s meeting, the European Affairs ministers and state secretaries focused on examining draft conclusions for the European Council meeting to be held on 10 and 11 December 2020. In this context, they discussed the coordination effort that has been delivered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including work on vaccines, climate change, the fight against terrorism, EU-UK relations, Turkey, and the Southern Neighbourhood.
State Secretary Dovžan welcomed the Commission's efforts for a coordinated response to the COVID-19 situation in the EU, while urging that the latter must act in a way that would improve its efficiency and coordination even further. To this end, he stressed the need for the preparation of a transparent document which would incorporate the activities and measures undertaken in the past year and serve as a reference point for tackling potential pandemics and other crises in the future. As for the current crisis, the State Secretary highlighted the importance of ensuring equal and simultaneous access to safe and efficient vaccines for all EU Member States. He called for a determined, concerted response to all disinformation relating to vaccines and their adverse effects, stating that the dissemination of such inaccurate information can be extremely harmful and might unnecessarily undermine people’s trust. He further appealed for a coordinated approach to the easing of the COVID-19-related restrictions when the epidemiological situation allows.
During the discussion on climate change, State Secretary Dovžan expressed his support for the proposed upgraded emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 at the EU level. He also called for the preparation of a detailed impact assessment and underscored Slovenia’s expectation that its national circumstances would be appropriately taken into account, particularly when setting targets for renewable energy and carbon sink in forestry and agriculture. He also drew attention to the fact that Member States have different starting positions that must be considered when setting targets for individual sectors and that it is for each Member State to decide on its energy mix. He also stressed the vital nature of technological neutrality in achieving climate goals.
Members of the General Affairs Council then focused their attention on the latest developments in the negotiations on the future EU-UK relations, which have now reached a critical point. They reaffirmed their support for the Union's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and underlined that it is imperative that Member States work in unison.
In the continuation of the ministerial video conference, the presidency reported on the state of affairs in interinstitutional negotiations in legislative programming, including the legislative priorities for 2021 and common decisions on the policy objectives and priorities for 2020–2024. The presidency also announced the signing of both documents, which is to take place on the margins of the European Council meeting.
At the close of the meeting, the ministers and state secretaries took note of the European democracy action plan recently issued by the Commission and the state of play of EU enlargement activities.