Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth will attend the General Affairs Council in Brussels on Tuesday, 23 November. The agenda will focus on the rule of law, EU enlargement and EU‑UK relations. Minister of State Roth will already travel to Brussels today, 22 November, to conduct political talks with Belgian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. The state of play on the rule of law in Europe will be the main topic of these talks.
Prior to his departure for Brussels, Minister of State Roth issued the following statement today (22 November):
There can be no compromises on or exceptions to the rule of law in Europe. The rule of law forms the foundation of our common Union and must be respected and defended as such at all times. Recent developments in Europe have unfortunately repeatedly shown that this cannot be taken for granted, so I am particularly pleased that the Ministers for Europe will discuss the state of play on the rule of law in detail in the Rule of Law Dialogue created under the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The EU’s entire toolbox must be used in order to protect the rule of law.
As regards EU enlargement, the European Union’s very credibility in the Western Balkans is at stake. In light of the elections held in Bulgaria, it is now crucial that the Bulgarian leadership finally lives up to its European responsibility and removes obstacles to the first accession conferences with North Macedonia and Albania.
The UK Government must also keep its promises in its relations with the EU. Escalation and threats are not a solution or in the interests of either the UK or the EU. Instead, we should now take the pragmatic and constructive path shown by the European Commission in order to preserve peace in Northern Ireland.