This note has been drawn up under the responsibility of the press office.
Starting at 10.00, the Council will discuss and adopt conclusions on the European External Action Service (EEAS) review.
It will then prepare the European Council meeting on 19-20 December on the basis of draft conclusions.
Over lunch Ministers will also discuss these draft conclusions with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.
In the afternoon session ministers will discuss enlargement and the stabilisation and association process.
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The Council will discuss and is expected to adopt conclusions on the review of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The debate will be held on the basis of the July 2013 report by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, on the organisation and the functioning of the EEAS.
The Council is expected to focus on the short-term recommendations that can be implemented within the existing legal framework and on the internal aspects of the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. Further examination on medium to longer term issues is foreseen during the mandate of the next High Representative. In this context, ministers are likely to focus their deliberations on the following;
• Inter-institutional cooperation - ensuring fully the coordinating role of the HR/VP in the field of external relations within the Commission, and further development of policy synergies and pragmatic working arrangements with other EU institutions;
• Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) - improving the effectiveness and efficiency of CSDP missions and operations, and strengthening integrated approaches and closer coordination within the EEAS;
• EU Special Representatives - enhancing the overall efficiency and accountability, and ensuring coordination and coherence with all other EU actors;
• EU delegations - enhancing cooperation between EU delegations and member states diplomatic representations;
• Consular protection- strengthened role of EU delegations in facilitating cooperation between member states
• Staffing - ensure a balanced presence of different sources of staff at all levels, as well as adequate geographical and gender balance.
The EEAS is the European Union's foreign service. It supports the EU High Representative in conducting the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It has about 3400 staff in total and 141 delegations around the world working on behalf of the people of Europe and representing the EU as a whole. The EEAS is functionally autonomous from other EU bodies.
European External Action Service was established on 26 July 2010 by decision of the Council of Ministers – based on a proposal from the High Representative endorsed by the European Parliament on 8 July 2010. It was officially launched in January 2011.
Statement by EU High Representative Ashton on the EEEAS review:
Preparations for the December European Council
The Council will examine draft conclusions for the European Council meeting to be held on 19-20 December, prepared by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, in cooperation with the Lithuanian presidency and the Commission.
The European Council is due to focus on:
1. Common security and defence policy;
• Increase in the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP;
• Development of defence capabilities;
• Strengthening of Europe's defence industry.
2. Economic and monetary union;
• Shared analysis of the economic situation in member states and in the Euro area;
• Strengthening of economic policy coordination, in particular in regard to partnerships for growth jobs and competitiveness;
• Decision on the use of an employment and social scoreboard and indicators in the European Semester;
• Banking Union.
3. Economic and social policy;
• Evaluating the implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs;
• Review of action taken in the area of taxations since May 2013.
4. Migration flows;
• Task Force for the Mediterranean
5. External relations;
• Eastern partnership/ Ukraine
• Central African Republic
6. Other items;
• Results of WTO ministerial conference in Bali
• EU Strategy for the Alpine Region
An annotated draft agenda was discussed by the Council on 19 November (15651/13).
Enlargement - Adoption of the negotiating framework for Serbia
The Council is expected to adopt the General EU position for the opening of accession negotiations with Serbia. This is then expected to be submitted to the European Council for confirmation.
The General EU position includes the Negotiating Framework which sets out the principles governing the negotiations. The EU acquis will be divided into 35 chapters (policy fields) each of which will be negotiated separately.
Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process
On the basis of the Commission communication of 16 October 2013 on the EU's enlargement strategy and main challenges for 2013-2014 and the progress reports on Turkey, Iceland, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the Council will discuss EU enlargement and the stabilisation and association process. It is expected to adopt conclusions which will cover the general enlargement strategy and include specific language on each separate progress report.
The Council is expected to renew its commitment to the enlargement process and reaffirm its intention to taking the process forward on the basis of agreed principles and conclusions, with each country being assessed on its own merits. It will note the accession of Croatia to the EU as the 28th member state on 1 July 2013, as well as the historic agreement reached by Serbia and Kosovo in April 2013, as strong and visible testimony of the transformative and stabilising effect of the enlargement process.
The Council is further expected to welcome that the new approach to negotiations on judiciary and fundamental rights and on justice, freedom and security has put rule of law issues at the heart of the enlargement process. Equally, ministers are likely to welcome the new emphasis on economic governance, reform, competitiveness and job creation. The Council is also expected to reiterate the continued importance of regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations as essential parts of the enlargement process.
As regards the Western Balkans, the Council is expected to reaffirm its commitment to their European perspective, considering it essential for the stability, reconciliation and the future of the region.
For more detail: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/countries/strategy-and-progress-report/
Any other business
The Presidency will brief the ministers on the informal ministerial meeting on cohesion policy held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 26 November 2013.