EU Ministers for European Affairs are set to continue their discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) this week, at the General Affairs Council meeting, which will take place in Brussels on September 24. The Cyprus Presidency’s revised Negotiating Box, which outlines the main elements and options for the MFF negotiations, is expected to be the focus of the discussions during the meeting. Ministers will also discuss the agenda for the upcoming European Council of mid-October and evaluate the second ‘European Semester’ among others.
Working on the revised Negotiating Box
The Negotiating Box was revised by the Cyprus Presidency on September 18 and is constantly updated as negotiations progress. The paper, which was inherited by the Danish Presidency, is ultimately expected to form the basis of an agreement on the MFF negotiations at the European Council level. Discussions at this week’s GAC, which will be chaired by Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for EU Affairs, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis, are expected to note some advancement in the negotiations, with a final agreement expected to be reached by November 22 at the European Council meeting.
The Negotiation Box’s last amendments are guided by a general principle of a process of elimination in limiting the number of choices available to the Member States. It also indicates the direction in which the Presidency intends to proceed in future revisions of the text. The Presidency believes that the suggestions reflect the choices derived from the deliberations until this point and allow for progress in the efforts for a final agreement.
Given the extraordinary European Council in November and the new calendar of negotiations, the Presidency has opted, for the time being, to exclude any figures or ranges of figures in the revised Negotiation Box. It is hoped that this gradual approach will allow for as much progress as possible, without running too fast into discussions on exact amounts.
European Parliament representatives are expected to be briefed both prior and post the GAC meeting regarding the discussions on MFF.
During the meeting, the European Commission will present its new proposal for a new value added tax (VAT), based on own resource.
European Council agenda
The draft annotated agenda of the European Council meeting of October 18 and 19 will also be discussed by EU Affairs Ministers. Issues currently on the agenda of the European Council include economic policy and specifically the Compact for Growth and Jobs, an interim report on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union and the issue of banking supervision and union.
Other topics to be discussed during the GAC include foreign policy issues, the second ‘European Semester’, with an outlook at possible improvements for 2013. During lunch, ministers will hold a discussion on the General Affairs Council's working methods.
The Commission is also set to present its proposal on the statute and funding of European political parties and foundations, as well as its report on the implementation of the national Roma strategies.
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