Brussels, 10 July 2023 (TDI): Today, the General Affairs Council meeting engaged in significant discussions regarding the long-term budget and the rule of law matters. The meeting ended with important decisions.

One of the focal points of the meeting was the mid-term revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, proposed by the European Commission last month.

Ministers provided their initial comments on various elements of the package, including the creation of a Ukraine facility for 2024-2027, additional funds to tackle migration pressures and external challenges, the establishment of the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP), and proposed adjustments related to interest rate surges.

The Council is set to hold another policy debate on the proposed revision of the long-term budget at its meeting on September 19.

The Council also discussed the evaluation of the annual rule of law dialogue. The presidency presented its plans to evaluate the Council’s annual rule of law dialogue, which involves regular horizontal and country-specific discussions on the rule of law developments across the EU.

The aim is to reach a consensus on a set of Council conclusions on the evaluation by the end of 2023. This ongoing dialogue and evaluation process reinforce the EU’s commitment to upholding the rule of law across member states.

During the meeting, the presidency also presented its priorities for its term in office within the General Affairs Council.

These priorities include initiatives to foster closer ties between Europe and its citizens, advancing the accession process of candidate countries, continuing the follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe, developing relations with the UK while ensuring compliance with existing agreements, addressing the rule of law-related issues, strengthening European democracy through legislative work, and addressing the EU’s demographic challenges.

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The rule of law report, published on 5 July 2023, assessed developments across member states in key areas such as the justice system, anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to checks and balances.

The Council is expected to hold a more detailed discussion on the horizontal chapter of the rule of law report in September, while a country-specific discussion covering five member states is scheduled for October.

Additionally, the Commission briefed ministers on its proposal to establish an interinstitutional ethics body, which was presented on June 8, 2023.

A kick-off political meeting with institutional representatives took place on July 7 to discuss this proposal.