General Affairs and External Relations Council

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The Council for General Affairs and External Relations (GAERC / AB, shortly General Council , English General Affairs and External Relations Council , GAERC , fr. GAERC ) was the Council of the European Union in the formation of the Foreign Minister . Ministers from the European, Defense, Development or Trade departments could also take part in the monthly meeting - depending on the agenda and the scope of the national governments. The General Council was one of the oldest configurations of the Council of Ministers and played a central role in the political practice of the European Union . As of December 1, 2009, the Council was divided into two Council formations: the General Affairs Council and the Foreign Affairs Council .


The RAA / AB was responsible for all policy areas that are not covered by other council constellations. So he decided on questions of enlargement or long-term budgetary policy . In addition, the RAA / AB dealt in its meetings with the entire common foreign and security policy of the European Union as well as with foreign trade and development policy. Particularly important questions were prepared in the European Council (the assembly of heads of state and government).

In the rules of procedure, the Council defines the composition of the Council formations according to policy fields.

The General Council in the Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty divides the existing General Council thematically into a General Affairs Council and a Foreign Affairs Council .

The General Affairs Council is therefore responsible for maintaining the coherence of the other Councils of Ministers and, together with the Commission, for preparing the Council meetings. Its chairman continues to be the foreign minister of the country that holds the council presidency . In essence, this council will implement all areas of the old General Affairs and External Relations Council in addition to the common foreign and security policy.

The Council for Foreign Affairs , on the other hand, is entrusted with formulating common policy in the common foreign and security policy in accordance with the foreign policy strategy of the European Council (Art. 21 TEU). The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chairs the External Relations Council . A European External Action Service is also available. Above all, these innovations will give this council formation a new quality, whereas decisions in this new council must continue to be unanimous. A new dynamic is expected from the horizontal responsibility with the new “EU Foreign Minister” and her diplomatic service.

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