EU Ministers for the Environment met in Luxembourg on 22 and 23 July 2015 for an informal meeting chaired by Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg's Minister for the Environment. Ministers discussed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the state of play of climate negotiations in view of an ambitious Paris agreement and how to finance the fight against climate change. European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, presented the new proposal on how to reform the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).
The Ministers and Secretaries of State for European Affairs met in Luxembourg on 23 and 24 July 2015 for an informal meeting chaired by Jean Asselborn, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, in the presence of the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans.The Ministers and Secretaries of State held an exchange of views about the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency. For this first working session, the Presidency also invited the Ministers for European Affairs from the candidate countries for accession to the EU.The second session concerned the Commission's work programme for 2016. During their working lunch, the Ministers discussed the Five Presidents' Report on the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), published on 22 June. For Jean Asselborn, the debate's challenge was to "clarify some of the issues and elucidate the different aspects of the roadmap for the EMU's completion".
Ministers responsible for Research came together on 21 July 2015 in Luxembourg for the "research" component of the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Competitiveness which started the day before. Chaired by Marc Hansen, Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, the meeting addressed the integrity of research and equal opportunities in research. On the whole, the delegations supported the efforts of the Luxembourg Presidency to encourage a responsible course of conduct in research across the whole research and innovation cycle, from the initial idea to the final product, asserted the Secretary of State after the meeting. They also supported the work of the Presidency which pays particular attention to taking concrete action in promoting gender quality in research and innovation.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel received the President of the employers' organisation Business Europe, Emma Marcegaglia, in the context of Luxembourg's presidency of the EU Council on 21 July 2015. Several topics were discussed: the situation in Greece, the strengthening of industrial policy in Europe and the future economic governance of the European Union (EU). Social Europe, business taxation and the reform of emission trading scheme (ETS) quotas were also discussed.
Ministers responsible for the Economy came together in Luxembourg on 20 July 2015 for an informal meeting to address issues of competitiveness. Under the title "Trading beyond borders. Competing globally. What the EU can do for you", the meeting chaired by Étienne Schneider, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, focused on the potential benefits of well-thought-out and coherent rules for European companies. The aim was to find an answer to the following question: "How can we ensure that Europe and its rules bring tangible added value to our economies?"
At an extraordinary Council meeting on 20 July 2015, chaired by Jean Asselborn, the Luxembourg Minister for Immigration and Asylum, the Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) of the EU Member States reached consensus on the distribution of asylum seekers in the Member States. The Ministers adopted a general approach for 32,256 refugees to be welcomed under the temporary relocation procedure which was proposed by the European Commission in its Agenda on Migration in May 2015. The procedure provides for the relocation of 40,000 migrants eligible for refugee status who are currently in Greece and Italy. Furthermore, the Ministers adopted the conclusions which anticipate the resettlement of 22,504 refugees from outside European territory.
On 18 and 19 July 2015, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) met in Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg. The meeting was chaired by Luxembourg's Minister for the Environment, Carole Dieschbourg, who is currently the chair of the Environment Council of the European Union, Caroline Atkinson, US National Security Advisor for International Economics (G8-G20 Sherpa), and Todd Stern, Special Envoy for Climate Change at the US State Department.
During an Informal Ministerial Meeting on 17 July 2015 entitled "Changes in the Labour Market: a challenge for men and women", the Ministers for Gender Equality and Employment exchanged strategies to better meet the needs of men and women for greater balance between work and family life. The Commission announced that it will present a proposal for a revised directive on maternity leave, in so far it has withdrawn its earlier proposal of 2008 in the context of its "Better Regulation" programme.
European Union (EU) Ministers for Labour and Social Affairs met in Luxembourg on 16 July 2015 for an informal meeting on issues relating to Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. After focusing, in the first instance, on the social dimension of EU governance, the Ministers discussed the issue of youth employment over a working lunch with social partners and then during a session with their counterparts from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. As the Minister for Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Nicolas Schmit, chaired these meetings.