RIGA - On September 21, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica, took part in the meeting of the European Union’s General Affairs Council, LETA learned from the ministry.
The Parliamentary Secretary noted that the Conference on the Future of Europe is one of the central elements on the European Union’s agenda and has been highly prioritised in the program of the Slovenian presidency. At the same time, an active engagement of all Europeans is required to shape the future of Europe that lies in people’s interests and meets their vision. We stand up for the Conference outcomes to address issues important for Europeans, for instance, building a fair and resilient Europe, Kalnina-Lukasevica underlined.
At the General Affairs Council, the Slovenian presidency presented its priorities for the second half of 2021. The Member States were also informed about the draft agenda for the European Council on 21-22 October, and the European Commission presented an outline of its draft work programme for 2022 and its annual foresight report, referring to the traditional State of the Union address by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the European Parliament plenary on September 15.
The Council also heard an explanation concerning the state of play in the relations between the EU and the United Kingdom. A discussion took place on the statement issued by the European Commission on the flexibility of implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is currently the main issue concerning the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
We are acutely aware of the sensitive issue related to the Northern Ireland Protocol is unique and very complicated; there are many various risks, including security-related, the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out, adding that the EU side is very mindful of the matter and, just like the United Kingdom, is interested in the stability of the Northern Ireland.
Representatives from the EU Member States also discuss the current situation regarding EU COVID-19 coordination. The Parliamentary Secretary urged the Member States to discuss a uniform approach to setting the period of validity of vaccination certificates, while she underlined the importance of concerted action across the EU to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meetings of the General Affairs Council are held once a month and, in the second half of 2021, they are chaired by the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU.