EU General Affairs Council to meet ahead of upcoming special European Council session

The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet in-person today. In addition to preparing for the May 25 special European

EU

Photo: Yves Herman/Reuters

The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet in-person today.

In addition to preparing for the May 25 special European Council, discussions will focus on COVID-19 coordination and the start of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The May 25 meeting of EU leaders in Brussels will be one of their first physical summits since COVID-19 began and is the culmination of weeks of smaller meetings by council configurations, such as today’s GAC meeting.

Serving as a year-long public consultation aimed at offering citizens input on the bloc’s future, the conference’s May 9 launch comes as the EU arrives at a turning point. The difficulty in mounting responses to continent-wide emergencies demonstrated by COVID-19 and the slow vaccine rollout—compared to the US and UK—is a source of public frustration and embarrassment.

Expect Europe’s continued COVID-19 struggles to dominate GAC’s agenda. The bloc’s further pandemic response is critical to recovering credibility with its citizens. Though the conference aims to bring the EU’s complex decision-making process closer to the people, it will be little more than a publicity stunt if it fails to genuinely incorporate public opinion into tangible change, a process about which it has offered only vague promises so far.

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