Brussels, 4 November 2022
October European Council
The Council exchanged views on the draft conclusions of the European Council meeting on 20-21 October.
Following their informal discussions in Prague on 7 October, EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss a number of pressing issues.
They will address the latest developments in relation to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and continued EU support for Ukraine.
EU leaders will also assess the state of energy prices and security of supply, including market optimisation measures and progress on demand reduction.
In light of the current energy crisis, the European Council will address the economic situation.
Leaders will also hold a strategic discussion on China and prepare a number of international events.
Conference on the Future of Europe
Ministers discussed the follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Work is underway in the Council to ensure effective follow-up to the Conference outcome, notably on the basis of a comprehensive preliminary technical assessment of the 49 Conference proposals and their 326 related measures. Ministers last took stock of the follow-up at their meeting in September.
In addition, the Council has received proposals for two specific Treaty amendments under Article 48(2) TEU from the European Parliament. Ministers discussed the timing for submitting them to the European Council and for notifying national parliaments.
Taking into account that the EP has asked its Committee on Constitutional Affairs to prepare proposals for further Treaty amendments to implement the results of the Conference, during the debate ministers broadly agreed that, in order to ensure procedural efficiency and avoid duplication of processes, it would be appropriate to wait until the Parliament has concluded this work before transmitting the two specific proposals already received.
In this context, many ministers noted that the vast majority of the Conference proposals can be implemented under the current Treaty framework and took the view that these proposals should be given priority at this stage.
In addition, some ministers felt that, in the context of the urgent challenges resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine, it was important to focus all energy on delivering solutions to the practical problems facing European citizens. Others considered that more time was needed for a comprehensive assessment before engaging in the process of Treaty change.
The Council is fully committed to ensure the best possible follow-up to the Conference proposals. The vast majority of them – up to 95% – can be implemented using the full potential of the current Treaties. It is important to focus on this work, to give citizens’ wishes a positive and concrete follow-up within a relatively short time frame.
Mikuláš Bek, Minister of European Affairs of the Czech Republic
Ministers also discussed the organisation of the Conference feedback event, which will be an important occasion to inform citizens about the follow-up that three institutions are giving to the Conference outcome.
- Conference on the Future of Europe (background information and timeline)
- Preliminary technical assessment of the proposals (10 June 2022)
- European Council conclusions, 23-24 June 2022
Rule of law in Poland
As part of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure, ministers were updated on the situation regarding the rule of law in Poland.
The procedure concerning Poland was launched in 2017 when the Commission issued its reasoned opinion on the rule of law in Poland. It covers a range of issues related to the independence of the Polish judiciary.
The latest hearing with Poland under Article 7(1) TEU was held in February.
The Commission informed ministers about developments since the hearing, including as regards the reform of the disciplinary regime applicable to Polish judges undertaken by the Polish authorities. Poland had an opportunity to present its remarks.
- Reasoned proposal regarding the rule of law in Poland
- 2022 Rule of Law Report – Country Chapter – Poland
The Council held a policy debate on the European Parliament’s proposal for revising the EU rules governing the EP elections to provide political guidance for further work on this file.
Expressing different views, ministers commented both on the proposed changes that they would wish to see reflected in EU electoral law and on the changes that they considered more challenging.
Several ministers noted their general support for efforts to increase voter turnout in the European Parliament elections and to enhance their democratic legitimacy.
The main political and legal challenges identified by member states relate to the proposals for an EU-wide constituency based on transnational lists and a lead candidate process for choosing the Commission President. Member states also expressed reservations regarding different suggestions to harmonise the electoral processes across the EU, stressing the need for flexibilities that would respect longstanding voting traditions.
Some member states pointed to the changes to the EU electoral law agreed in 2018, expressing the hope that they could enter into force soon.
- Background note for the debate
- Proposal for a Council regulation on the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage
Enforcement of EU law
Under ‘Any other business’, the Commission informed ministers about its Communication on ‘Enforcing EU law for a Europe that delivers’, published on 13 October 2022.
The Communication sets out how the Commission has developed its work on enforcement, from prevention to sanctions, to ensure that people and businesses can benefit from the commonly agreed rules throughout the EU.
The Council also adopted without discussion the items on the list of non-legislative A items.
Source – EU Council