State Secretary Metelko-Zgombić attends informal GAC meeting

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State Secretary for Europe Andreja Metelko-Zgombić participated on 29-30 April 2023 in an informal meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC) in Brussels.

The central theme of the meeting was the rule of law, with opinions exchanged on the implementation of instruments for its protection, with a view to future enlargements.

The state secretary emphasized that in recent years, the EU has developed and utilizes a range of mechanisms for preserving the rule of law, each with its own purpose and scope, such as the rule of law dialogue with the annual reports of the European Commission, procedures based on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union and Conditionality Regulation. These instruments have contributed to the visibility and importance of the rule of law, and it is necessary to apply them in practice to achieve their full potential. Regarding enlargement, particular attention should be paid to the necessity of systematic implementation of reforms and actions in line with them by the countries involved in the enlargement process, while respecting the fundamental values of the Union.
Representatives of candidate and potential candidate countries also participated in one part of the discussion. Metelko-Zgombić, presenting a joint statement on behalf of Croatia and Slovenia, welcomed their involvement in active exchange of experiences in the field of the rule of law. She emphasized the particular importance of rule of law reforms, which constitute the foundation of the EU, and which, due to the transformative effect they bring, are crucial for successful membership preparation. She drew attention to the renewed interest in enlargement that needs to be capitalized upon, called for additional efforts in that direction, and expressed full support and readiness of Croatia, as well as Slovenia, to help them on their European path with knowledge and experience.
The ministers and state secretaries also discussed elements of the plan for future work on internal EU reforms, with the aim of the European Council adopting conclusions on this by the summer of 2024. Ministers considered possible principles and key steps that will shape further work. Within this theme, the state secretary emphasized that the approach should be guided by pragmatism and flexibility. Our actions should be based on analysis and careful consideration, especially regarding individual policies and budgets, with the aim of preparing the EU as effectively as possible for the future and for enlargement, which still needs to be based on the principles of individual merits, fulfilment of reforms, and membership criteria.

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