Luxembourg's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Jean Asselborn, representing the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) attended the informal meeting, together with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, in Brussels on 21 December 2015. The meeting was held in the context of consultations undertaken by President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Simonetta Sommaruga following a popular vote on 9 February 2014. During the press conference which followed the meeting, the two parties stated that they had failed to reach an agreement on amendments to be made to the rules on the free movement of persons as desired by Bern, although 'some progress' had been made. A new EU-Switzerland meeting has been scheduled for the end of February.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Internal Security, Etienne Schneider, presented the achievements of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the field of internal security to the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament on 21 December 2015. Counter-terrorism has dominated these achievements. According to him, "substantial progress" was made on the following issues: implementing the renewed internal security strategy for the period 2015-2020, the new Europol regulations and the PNR Directive, the fight against foreign terrorist fighters and combating illicit trafficking of firearms.
Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, visited Brussels on 21 December 2015 to give an overview of the Luxembourg Presidency before the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee. Before MEPs, the Minister reviewed the work carried out in the field of migration policy and in respect of launching political dialogue with regard to the rule of law.
On 21 December 2015, Félix Braz, the Luxembourg Minister of Justice, travelled to Brussels for the purpose of reporting on the achievements of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU before the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament, alongside Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Security, and Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Minister of Immigration and Asylum. He presented the achievements of the Presidency in the field of Justice and Protection of Personal Data, specifically regarding the agreement reached on the regulation and the directive relating to the protection of personal data and regarding the agreements reached on procedural guarantees in criminal law matters. The Minister likewise pointed to the creation of a European Public Prosecutor's Office, the contribution of Justice in combatting terrorism and radicalisation, as well as judicial cooperation in the context of the migration crisis.
At the press conference following the European Council of 17 and 18 December 2015, Luxembourg's Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, together with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented a "preliminary review" of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU. The Luxembourg Presidency has been marked by "a tragic and unprecedented worsening" of the refugee crisis and the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, stated Xavier Bettel who believes that Luxembourg has acted as a mediator to find common solutions. He welcomed the number of significant agreements reached within the Council and with the European Parliament, such as the proposed Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive.
Nicolas Schmit, the Minister responsible for relations with the European Parliament during the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU, addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 16 December 2015. Speaking on behalf of the Council and opening the debate on preparations for the European Council meeting to be held on 17 and 18 December 2015, he stated that it 'will tackle issues that are key for Europe'.
The Ministers for the Environment of the European Union (EU) met on 16 December 2015 in Brussels for a Council meeting chaired by Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg's Minister for the Environment. The Ministers adopted conclusions on the mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. During the press conference after the Council meeting, Carole Dieschbourg welcomed the response given by the Ministers for the Environment to the petition launched by 500 000 citizens 'for ambitious biodiversity policies and against the watering down of the EU directives on nature'. The Ministers also adopted a general approach for the directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain pollutants (NEC Directive) by a large majority. The Minister for the Environment declared that 'after difficult discussions, we achieved a balanced compromise, which is supported by many Member States and is still ambitious', noting 'a step in the right direction'.
The EU's Fisheries Ministers met in Brussels on 14 and 15 December 2015 for the "Fisheries" part of the last Agriculture and Fisheries Council chaired by Fernand Etgen, Luxembourg Minister for Agriculture. The Ministers agreed on the allowable catches for 2016 in the Atlantic and the North Sea and adopted a political agreement on fishing opportunities and quotas for next year in the waters of the Black Sea. Fernand Etgen hailed a "strong and fair agreement" at the press conference held after the Council meeting. He added that "the agreement drawn up by the Luxembourg Presidency, in cooperation with the European Commission, is important both for the sustainability of stocks and the fisheries economy in the countries concerned", stressing that it is a compromise in line with the aim of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP): fishing within the maximum sustainable yield.
The EU ministers responsible for European affairs met in Brussels on 15 December 2015, during the EU General Affairs (GAC) chaired by the Luxembourg Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn. During the meeting, the European ministers first of all wound up preparations for the European Council of 17 and 18 December. The Council also approved the text for a new interinstitutional agreement, entitled 'Better regulation', which had been the subject of a temporary agreement with the European Parliament and the Commission of 8 December 2015. This was after three months of negotiations led by the Luxembourg Presidency, which were 'difficult', but 'always held in a positive and cooperative atmosphere'. Finally, the GAC approved the programme of works for the Council for the forthcoming eighteen months, drawn up by the trio of successive Presidencies of the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta.