Highlights of the General Affairs Council of 20 November 2017 in Brussels
20 November 2017
09:30 Public session
12:30 Press conference
The Council began preparations for the December European Council by discussing a provisional agenda. At that meeting, EU leaders are expected to address defence issues and adopt conclusions on social matters, education and culture. Under the Leaders' Agenda, Heads will hold a thematic debate on migration policy.
Ministers also discussed the state of implementation of the October European Council conclusions and in particular the funding of the North Africa window of the EU Trust Fund.
As part of the annual legislative planning process, ministers exchanged views on the Commission's work programme for 2018. The December General Affairs Council is expected to approve a joint declaration on EU legislative priorities for 2018, which will then be signed by the presidents of the three institutions on the sidelines of the December European Council.
The Council assessed progress in the implementation of an interinstitutional agreement on better law-making.
In preparation for the European Semester 2018, the Estonian presidency, together with the incoming Bulgarian presidency, presented the 2018 European Semester roadmap, which sets out how work will be taken forward for the remainder of 2017 and the first half of 2018.
The Council adopted conclusions on enhancing cybersecurity in the EU. "Cybercrime and state-sponsored malicious cyber activities are one of the largest global threats to our societies and economies. We already lose around €400 billion globally every year due to cyber-attacks. This clearly underlines the need for the EU to use the available tools to increase stability in cyberspace and respond to large-scale cyber incidents. The EU simply has to stay ahead of the game,” said Matti Maasikas, Estonia's Deputy Minister for European Affairs and chair of today's Council meeting. “Increasing our efforts and investment in cybersecurity is a pre-condition for building a strong and trusted digital single market for our citizens,” Maasikas added.
The Council adopted conclusions on Digital for Development. These refer to the mainstreaming of digitalisation in the external dimension, particularly through the EU’s development cooperation, as digitalisation offer new opportunities for growth in developing countries. Member states look forward to concrete steps in in the implementation of digitalisation for development, including through deliverables in the context of the Eastern Partnership Summit on 24 November and the EU-Africa Summit on 29-30 November.
The Council also adopted regulations to create an entry-exit system to register information relating to third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Schengen area. "The entry-exit system will contribute to improving external border controls, better identify overstayers and strengthen the fight against terrorism," said Estonia's minister of the interior Andres Anvelt.