State Secretary for Europe Andreja Metelko-Zgombić participated in a videoconference of European affairs ministers in the General Affairs Council format.
Ministers held a debate as part of the annual rule of law dialogue, focusing on the situation in five specific member states in the protocol order (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark and Estonia). Metelko-Zgombić underlined that the debate was an opportunity to deepen dialogue, strengthen the common understanding of the rule of law in the Union and exchange experiences and best practices.
As part of preparations for the European Council meeting next month, Metelko-Zgombić underscored the importance of collective efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the strengthening of health systems’ resilience. She welcomed the positive prospect concerning the development of vaccine. Ensuring access to it for all EU citizens will be an important indicator of the Union’s efficiency. Concerning climate change, the state secretary stressed the importance of solidarity and taking into account different circumstances and starting points of member states. In the context of security, she supported further efforts in combating terrorism and radical extremism, expressing solidarity with France and Austria and condemning the recent attacks.
Concerning enlargement, the German presidency informed ministers about the state of play of the discussions on the general EU position and the procedures for accession negotiations in relation to the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Albania. Metelko-Zgombić said Croatia supported the adoption of negotiating frameworks and holding of the first intergovernmental conference with the two countries before the end of the German presidency.
Furthermore, ministers took stock of the developments regarding the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) and the recovery package. The Commission presented its programme for 2021, while the current and the upcoming presidencies (Portugal) presented the European Semester plan for 2021. Ministers also exchanged views on the fights against antisemitism.