European Affairs Council of the European Union of 22 March: conclusions
On Tuesday 22 March, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Affairs, Sophie Wilmès, met her counterparts in Brussels for a General Affairs Council (GAC).
Preparation of the European Council of 24 and 25 March
The Council began by preparing for the next European Council, to be held at the end of the week. In addition to the war in Ukraine and the adoption of the Strategic Compass - the Belgian position on these two issues was explained in detail yesterday at the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) -, the Heads of State and Government will address the issue of energy, in particular the high price increases and European energy dependence.
Soaring prices continue to weigh heavily on the bills of both citizens and businesses. Part of the solution lies at the national level and this is why the federal government has made important decisions about our security of supply, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Sophie Wilmès, "In addition to that, it is also urgent to act at the European level. And without taboos. Let's be clear that intervening in the markets at any time is not what Belgium wants. But when the markets go off the rails and out of control, we must be able to take temporary measures to calm things down. This is why Belgium is calling for the introduction of a dynamic gas price cap that is coordinated with other countries; for the introduction of a single buyer' model, like the one used for vaccines, but this time for liquefied natural gas; and lastly for a coordinated approach to gas storage in order to secure our energy supply for next winter, in a spirit of European solidarity."
Belgium asks the European Commission to support any initiative in this direction, given the urgency of the situation.
Conference on the Future of Europe
The French Presidency also discussed the latest developments concerning the Conference on the Future of Europe, in particular the way in which the recommendations of the national and European citizens' panels are being processed with a view to reaching final conclusions on 9 May, Europe Day. For Belgium - one of the few countries to have organised citizens' panels - citizens must remain at the centre of the debate.
Sophie Wilmès, "Our country is pleased to see that the direct contribution of citizens has resulted in a large number of original and constructive recommendations. Citizens were at the heart of the exercise, which must remain as transparent as possible. We believe that it is essential that citizens can find their proposals in the final conclusions of this process."
Status and financing of European political parties and foundations
The Council also took a position on the status and financing of European political parties and foundations in the framework of the European Democracy Action Plan submitted by the European Commission. The goal of this plan is to increase the power of citizens and the resistance of our democracies.
Belgium has called for a high level of transparency regarding the donations and funds allocated to political parties and foundations to guarantee the integrity of the electoral process. For example, our country supported the ban on funding from third countries.
It will also be stipulated that parties must guarantee gender equality and representation in their internal rules and statutes in order to receive European funds. In this respect, Belgium has argued for the highest possible level of ambition. Now that this 'partial global approach' has been adopted, negotiations with the European Parliament can begin.