State Secretary Štucin attends General Affairs Council
State Secretary Marko Štucin took part in the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels. By discussing an annotated draft agenda, Council members started preparations for the European Council meeting in October. In this context, they exchanged views on Ukraine, the proposed revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027, economic issues and the external dimension of migration.
State Secretary Štucin reiterated Slovenia's support for Ukraine, including in its EU membership efforts. He stressed that the Western Balkans should not be left out of the enlargement process and that Moldova and Georgia should also be given due attention. As to the proposed revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027, the State Secretary stressed the need to increase the resources for the Emergency Aid Reserve and for the Solidarity Fund, in the light of the increasing frequency of natural disasters. He also backed the proposals to increase funding to support Ukraine, as well as additional funding for the Western Balkans and, due to the intensified migratory pressures at the EU's external borders, additional funding for migration management. On economic issues, he focused on the importance of the single market, a fully functioning Schengen area and advocated for strengthening partnerships with like-minded third countries.
The General Affairs Council also discussed Spain’s proposal to modify the Regulation determining the languages to be used by the European Economic Community, to include Catalan, Basque and Galician in the EU’s language regime. State Secretary Štucin explained that Slovenia, as a strong supporter of multilingualism, is ready to support the Spanish proposal, while it should also be noted that ensuring multilingualism in the EU already presents a technical and financial challenge for the EU institutions.
General Affairs Council members also exchanged views on the rule of law. The State Secretary welcomed the fourth rule of law report, pointing out that the annual rule of law dialogue has become a valuable tool for a constructive and focused discussion among the Member States. In this context, he supported the initiative by the President of the European Commission to include candidate countries in the existing rule of law mechanisms already during the accession period. He commended the intention of the Spanish Presidency to draw up ambitious Council conclusions on the basis of the assessment of the dialogue and to further bolster the existing mechanisms safeguarding the rule of law.
Over lunch, General Affairs Council members exchanged views on the future of Europe, and the report of the Franco-German working group on EU institutional reform was presented. State Secretary Štucin recalled the 'Bled Commitment', presented by European Council President Charles Michel at this year's Bled Strategic Forum, according to which both the EU and the candidate countries should be ready for enlargement by 2030. This date should serve primarily as a timeline and an additional incentive to carry out internal reforms on both sides. In this context, he urged that the discussion on the EU's internal reforms should not become a barrier to enlargement. Progress by candidate countries must be merit-based. At the same time, the enlargement process should become more political.
Under "Other Items", Slovenia thanked the European Commission, EU Member States and other countries, including Ukraine, for their help and solidarity during the disastrous floods in August.