Yesterday I continued my writings on the difficulties of the EU General Affairs Council (GAC) to find a meaningful and strong coordinating role combined with open communications with the citizens of the European Union. On Grahnlaw Suomi Finland I looked at the available advance information (in Swedish): EU-rådet för allmänna frågor 12 september 2011: förhandsinformation (12 September 2011).

Those who want to look at the bright side of life, can always find comfort in how the Council depicts transparency since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force:

Information sheet - Openness and transparency of Council proceedings; Brussels, July 2011

12 September 2011 General Affairs Council

We now have the GAC conclusions:

3109th Council meeting General Affairs; Brussels, 12 September 2011 (13587/11, 20 pages)

Let us look at one of two strategic issues of interest, the Multiannual Financial Framework MFF or long term budget.

Multiannual Financial Framework MFF

I did not find the public deliberations, the public debates or the GAC press conference on the Council's audiovisual site, so we will have to make do with the written conclusions. On page 7 we are told:

The Council was informed, on the basis of a note from the presidency (13127/11), of progress in technical discussions on the duration and structure of the EU's next multiannual financial framework (MFF), and on provisions on flexibility and macroeconomic assumptions.

Ministers held a first formal exchange of views over lunch.

The presidency intends to continue discussions until the end of the year so as to enable a better understanding of the proposals and of the positions of member states, and thus to allow the subsequent presidency to oversee negotiations aimed at a successful and timely conclusion of the new framework.

The conclusions do not tell us that much about the strategic choices to be made in an EU, said to be based on representative democracy and committed to openness.

Insurrection of the rich

However, outside the august GAC meeting hall and conclusions, we are told that EU budget skirmishes begin as eight countries attack Brussels' proposals (EUobserver, 13 September 2011).

EurActiv reports on the rich members' insurrection: Nine EU countries call for slim EU budget (updated 13 September 2011).

The Swedish Europaportalen divides the member states into two groups, naming twenty states in opposing trenches. Eight of the richest EU members want to slash the proposed long term budget 2014-2020: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom: Rikare EU-länder vill hålla igen (updated 13 September 2011).

The second group consists of newer and poorer EU countries opposed to cuts in the Commission proposal. Their catchwords are cohesion and solidarity: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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Don't tell me that the European Union is dull. Just the official documents.

Ralf Grahn