General Affairs Council configuration (GAC)

Council of the EU

The General Affairs Council coordinates preparations for European Council meetings. It is also responsible for a number of cross-cutting policy areas.

How does the General Affairs Council work?

The General Affairs Council is mainly made up of the European affairs ministers from all EU member states. The European Commission is usually represented by the Commissioner for interinstitutional relations, depending on the matter discussed.

GAC meetings are held once a month.

The European Council

The European Council is the institution responsible for defining the EU's political direction and priorities

About the General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council is responsible for ensuring consistency in the work of all Council configurations. It prepares and follows up on meetings of the European Council (the meeting of heads of state or government of the EU member states).

It is responsible for a number of cross-cutting policy areas, which include EU enlargement and accession negotiations, the adoption of the multiannual financial framework (the EU's 7 year budget plan), cohesion policy, matters relating to the EU's institutional set-up and any dossier entrusted to it by the European Council.

Priorities of the General Affairs Council during the Estonian presidency

General Affairs Council 

The Estonian presidency will continue discussions on the future of the European Union and ways in which the needs and interests of EU citizens can be protected.

The presidency will continue the implementation of the inter-institutional agreement on better law-making (IIA) to improve the legislation process, making it easier and more effective. 

The aim during the presidency is to agree on a joint declaration between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council on the legislative priorities for the year 2018.

The presidency will also work to achieve an interinstitutional agreement on the mandatory transparency register.

In addition the Estonian presidency aims to continue the discussion on the principles and protection of the rule of law, including through a rule of law dialogue in the General Affairs Council.

The presidency will continue to advance EU enlargement within the broader framework of security, stability, democracy and rule of law in Europe.

In the cohesion format, the presidency will discuss the results, implementation and the future of the cohesion policy, based on the Commission's seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, discussion papers, published research and earlier discussions in other Council configurations. 

General Affairs Council (Art. 50)

In the General Affairs Council (Art.50) ministers, who meet in an EU27 format, will discuss any issues dealing with Brexit.

Between the meetings of the European Council (Art.50), the General Affairs Council (Art.50) will ensure that the negotiations are conducted in line with the European Council guidelines and the Council negotiating directives.

The aim of the Estonian presidency during these negotiations, is to maintain the unity of the 27 member states and to facilitate reaching an agreement with the United Kingdom.