EU Affairs Ministers discussed the future steps in the negotiations for the seven-year EU budget in Brussels today. The Deputy Minister for EU Affairs, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis, who chaired the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting, called for a timely agreement on the issue, while he also briefed his counterparts on the outcome of the bilateral meetings between the Cyprus Presidency and the member states concerning the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations. The GAC also formally adopted the Council position for the 2013 EU draft budget.
The Multiannual Financial Framework was at the centre of discussions in today’s General Affairs Council in Brussels, which was the first to take place under the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU. EU Affairs Ministers exchanged views on the following steps in the negotiation and also agreed on the position of the Council concerning the EU budget for next year. The meeting was chaired for the first time by Deputy Minister Mavroyiannis.
The Multiannual Financial Framework, the way forward
During the GAC meeting, the Cyprus Presidency reiterated once again its commitment to reach an agreement in the negotiations of the MFF by the end of the year.
The Deputy Minister presented the outcome of the bilateral meetings between the Cyprus Presidency and all member states, which were held in July, and thanked the delegations for their constructive spirit and will to reach a timely agreement on the issue.
The outcome of the bilateral meetings gave much to ponder with regards to the preparation of an Issues Paper that will be discussed during the Informal Meeting of Ministers for European Affairs, in Lefkosia (Nicosia), on 30 August. The discussions of this Informal Council will focus exclusively on the MFF.
“The Presidency is committed to do its utmost for a timely agreement of the MFF by the end of the year; we are pragmatic but we are very committed, with a real will to get results by the end of the year. It doesn’t mean that it is an easy task", said the Deputy Minister.
"The aim of the Informal Council is to engage in a real discussion of substance. The time is ripe to start serious discussions and exchanges of views and positions; from now on, we should talk to each other and discuss in depth, rather than exchange statements of positions”, stated Ambassador Mavroyiannis.
The Cyprus Presidency will build on the excellent work undertaken by the Danish presidency and intends to revise the negotiating box in order to allow the General Affairs Council of 24 September to continue working on the convergence of positions. The Negotiating box will of course be adjusted, including overall amounts, as discussions develop both in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) and at the GAC.
The Presidency will be in very close contact with the European Council President, Mr Herman Van Rompuy throughout the process, while his Cabinet will hold bilateral consultations in the run up to the October European Council.
The Council also took note of the revised technical updates of Commission proposals.
Presidency Work Programme
With this being the first GAC meeting under the Cyprus Presidency, Ambassador Mavroyiannis presented the Presidency’s core message to work Towards a Better Europe and the four horizontal priorities. The Deputy Minister also outlined the plan for the issues that fall under the auspices of the GAC; namely the MFF, cohesion policy, enlargement process, integrated maritime policy and staff regulations.
EU 2013 budget
The Council position on the 2013 EU draft budget was also formally agreed by Ministers today, which includes a limit on the increase of payments to 2.79 % compared to 2012. The payments for sustainable growth (heading one) have been increased by 6.71%, thus reflecting the Council’s commitment towards growth enhancing measures.
“The Presidency looks forward to cooperating constructively with the Parliament in order to find an agreement by mid-November “stated the Deputy Minister Mavroyiannis.
European Council follow-up
EU Affairs Ministers also had the opportunity to discuss the next steps to be taken within the next few months following the European Council in June. The discussions revolved around three main areas: the further development of economic and monetary union; work on the European Semester following endorsement of the country-specific recommendations on economic and fiscal policies; implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs.
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