Minister Byrne to attend meeting of the General Affairs Council
Press release20 September 2021
The Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D., will join his ministerial colleagues at a meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC) in Brussels on 21 September.
Ministers will prepare for the European Council on 21-22 October. At that meeting, leaders will discuss the Covid-19 pandemic and digital issues including the 2030 Digital Compass. The European Council will also prepare for the ASEM summit on 25/26 November and the Eastern Partnership summit on 15 December, as well as taking stock of preparations for the upcoming meetings of COP26 on climate change and of COP15 on biological diversity.
In addition, Ministers will also exchange views on COVID-19 EU coordination, EU-UK relations and legislative programming. There will be a discussion on the Conference on the Future of Europe, and Ministers will be briefed on the Slovenian Presidency priorities.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Minister Byrne said:
“We have many important issues on our agenda, including preparing for the meeting of the European Council on 21/22 October and COVID-19 coordination.
I look forward to the discussion on EU-UK relations and developments regarding the Protocol. Commission Vice President Šefčovič will update us on his successful and timely visit to Northern Ireland, which underlined the EU’s clear commitment to the people of Northern Ireland. Ireland fully supports the Commission’s approach to its engagement with the UK on the Protocol – demonstrating a calm, reasoned and solution-oriented focus. We continue to encourage a similar constructive engagement from the UK.
Our discussion on the Conference on the Future of Europe will allow us to take stock ahead of a busy autumn/winter programme of events across the Union. The publication of the first Interim Report on the Conference’s Digital Platform last week has shown us what ordinary people are talking about when it comes to the European Union and what their hopes and aspirations are for the Union in the years ahead.
I am delighted to see some suggestions from Irish citizens already on the Platform. I would encourage all Irish citizens to use their voice and have their say in the Conference which I have been clear all along must be centred on the views of ordinary citizens. Whatever a person’s view on Europe, it is important to share it during this important process whether by attending Conference events or submitting proposals to the Conference Digital Platform.”