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Long-term stability for the euro

The General Affairs Council met on 11 December in Brussels to lay the groundwork on the central issues for the summit of EU Heads of State and Government to be held 13‑14 December. One item on the agenda was how to help the economic and monetary union weather future storms.

Minister of State Michael Georg Link, who represented Germany at the meeting, said: “We want to ensure the long-term stability of the currency and rectify the economic and monetary union’s design flaws effectively. The kinds of measures that will help us do this are those that deal with the root cause of the crises. We must reduce our debts and increase our productivity. Any proposal that makes it easier to take on debt or weakens the will to reform is not helpful.”

The total debt burden in the euro area has already reached the eight trillion euro mark. Since the seventies, Europeans have seen their share of global economic output shrink by a third. Link emphasized that that meant even tougher rules to enforce budget discipline were needed at the European level, adding that more binding coordination of economic policy was also necessary.

Enlargement

The Council also adopted conclusions concerning the EU’s enlargement policy, in particular with regard to the countries of the Western Balkans. The Council Conclusions state that enlargement remains a key policy of the European Union. Especially at a time when the European Union faces major challenges, the enlargement process continues to reinforce peace, democracy and stability in Europe. The Conclusions note important current developments: Croatia is to join the EU on 1 July 2013; accession negotiations with Montenegro have begun; and Serbia was granted candidate status in March 2012.

Minister of State Link emphasized that, in this process, the rule of law and good economic governance are two key requirements with stabilizing and transformative effects. Conditionality was thus needed on the path to accession, he said. That means there must be clear and logical conditions, consistent monitoring and the fulfilment of undertakings to meet requirements.

The General Affairs Council deals with dossiers that affect more than one of the European Union’s policy areas, such as negotiations on enlargement, drawing up the multiannual financial framework for the Union or institutional and administrative questions. The General Affairs Council also coordinates preparation and follow-up work for European Council sessions, the meetings of the Heads of State and Government of the EU. As is the case with other Council formations, the General Affairs Council is made up of ministers of the member states, in this case usually the foreign ministers and ministers for European affairs.

 


Last updated 11.12.2012

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