EU General Affairs Council approves opening of a new chapter in Turkey negotiations, discusses raising Europe’s competitiveness

23 October 2013, Last updated at, 15:52 EET
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author: The Council of the European Union

EU ministers for European affairs approved the opening of a new chapter in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations in the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on October 22. Ministers also prepared for the upcoming European Council by discussing its Conclusions on the creation of the EU Digital Single Market and increasing EU competitiveness.

“I am happy to note that after more than three years of stalemate, we confirmed the opening of the Chapter 22 on the Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments in accession negotiations with Turkey. We also decided that the next Accession conference will be held on November 5,” said chair of the Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius.

“Lithuanian Presidency will aim at keeping dynamics in the EU–Turkey relations. We firmly believe that further progress in the negotiation process with Turkey is possible very soon,” Minister Linkevičius added.

Ministers also prepared the European Council meeting on October 24–25 by discussing its draft conclusions which focus on the digital agenda, innovations and services; growth, youth employment, European competitiveness as well as the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union, including its social dimension. The conclusions will also provide political guidance on the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius and the response to recent tragic events in the Mediterranean.

The Council adopted the Conclusions on the added value of the EU macro-regional strategies, one of the key priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency. They stress the importance of well-structured management and national responsibility in implementing their goals and give recommendations on the development of both existing and new strategies.

“The success stories of the Baltic Sea Region and Danube Region Strategies clearly show the significance of deeper territorial cooperation for the benefit of EU citizens,” said Minister Linkevičius. “In times of strained financial resources, it is worth mentioning that these strategies work without any additional EU funds or institutions and efficient spending is of key importance in implementing these strategies.”

Ministers also discussed what lessons learnt can be drawn from 2013 European semester process based on the synthesis report prepared by the Lithuanian Presidency.

“European semester was successful, but there is room to further improve the coordination of member states’ economic and fiscal policies. For example, strengthened national ownership, better focus of country-specific recommendations (CSR) on issues with the greatest direct impact on growth and jobs, more attention to the monitoring of CSR, and better timing of the whole process – all these recommendations should further contribute to the efficiency of the European semester,” said Minister Linkevičius, adding that the Annual growth survey for 2014 will be launched in November.

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