The Informal Meeting of the Ministers for European Affairs of European Union Member States will take place in Arles on 4 March 2022. It will bring together the ministers who usually sit on the “General Affairs” Council, which prepares European Council meetings (meetings of Member State Heads of State and Government) and ensures consistency in the work of the Council’s other configurations. The Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, and the Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, will also be in attendance.
Under the chairmanship of Clément Beaune, the ministers will discuss the three priorities for the future of the Union and its citizens.
Implications of the Ukrainian crisis for the European Union
Faced with the war and crisis ongoing in Ukraine, the Minister of State will propose to his counterparts to have a discussion on the parameters defining the relationship between the European Union and Ukraine, and the lessons to be learned by Europeans in crisis management, resilience and their capacity to confront this type of crisis or conflict. These discussions will help identify the objectives to be set by Heads of State and Government at upcoming events.
Protecting the rule of law and fundamental values of the European Union
The Minister of State for European Affairs will propose to the ministers to undertake an in-depth discussion and forward-looking reflection on the means to preserve the rule of law and fundamental values of the Union. Among the tools that will be discussed are the procedures launched on the basis of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TUE), which gives the Union the possibility of hearing and even sanctioning a Member State that does not respect its fundamental values, and the general regime of conditionality, or “conditionality regulation”, to protect the EU budget, which enables measures to be taken such as the suspension of payments or financial corrections, to protect the EU budget in the event that violations of the principles of the rule of law jeopardize the financial interests of the EU.
The ministers will also address the challenge of sector-specific protection of the rule of law, in terms of fighting discrimination, promoting civil society and freedom of the press and protection of journalists.
Preparing the next stages of the Conference on the Future of Europe
The Ministers will hold discussions on the first recommendations of the Citizens’ Panels brought together under the Conference on the Future of Europe. This discussion will facilitate the formulation of a united position for the Council for the closing of the Conference on the Future of Europe and the follow-up that should be provided to the citizens’ recommendations. They can also express their objectives regarding the consequences the Ukrainian crisis may have on the Conference proceedings. Launched on 9 May 2021, Europe Day, the work done at the Conference on the Future of Europe enables citizens to participate directly in shaping the future of the European project. The European and national Citizens’ Panels have produced their recommendations, which are now being discussed at the Conference and will conclude on 9 May 2022.