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General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC)

Volume 462: debated on Monday 25 June 2007

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary (Margaret Beckett) and Sir John Grant, UK Permanent Representative to the EU, represented the UK at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Luxembourg.

The agenda items covered were as follows:

General Affairs

Pursuing the Treaty Reform Process

The Council discussed reform of the EU treaties in preparation for the June European Council. It considered a report by the Presidency and looked at possible ways forward.

Preparation of the European Council on 21/22 June

The Council discussed the draft Conclusions for the European Council, covering justice and home affairs, economic and social and external relations issues.

Global Approach to Migration

The Council adopted Conclusions on the EU's Global Approach to Migration. These underline the importance of working closely with African, EuroMed and other partners, including the EU's eastern neighbours, on migration and migration-related issues.

External Relations


The Council was briefed by the Commission on progress in trade negotiations under the World Trade Organisation's Doha Development Agenda. The Council will meet in extraordinary session on 25 June in Geneva to discuss the outcome of a meeting of the EU, US, India and Brazil, to be held in Potsdam from 19-23 June.


The Council adopted Conclusions calling on the Government of Cuba to undertake the political and economic reforms needed to improve the daily life of the Cuban people. It emphasised the importance of democratic reform and of respect for human rights, while setting out the EU's willingness to engage in dialogue with the Cuban Government.

The EU and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership

The Council approved a draft strategy for the EU's relationship with Central Asia, which will now be submitted to the European Council. The strategy sets out the EU's interests in the region and possible avenues through which to pursue an enhanced relationship.

Strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy

The Council discussed the European neighbourhood policy on the basis of a report by the Presidency and welcomed the progress made in strengthening the policy.

EU Anti-Death Penalty Initiative

The Council decided that the EU would, as part of a cross-regional alliance, introduce a resolution against the death penalty during the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly.


The Council adopted Conclusions expressing alarm at the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur. It urged the parties to the conflict to abide by the existing cease-fire agreements, respect the neutral role of the AU mission and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Sudan. It stressed the need for a political solution and reaffirmed its full support for the AU/UN initiative to revitalise the political track. It welcomed the Government of Sudan's acceptance of an AU/UN hybrid operation, but underlined the Council's expectation that the Government of Sudan should swiftly take action to facilitate the deployment of the operation. Ministers also underlined the importance of continued funding for the AU mission.

Relations with the Western Balkans

The Council adopted Conclusions welcoming renewed co-operation by the new Government in Belgrade with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the reopening of talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia. On Kosovo, the Council reaffirmed its support for UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and reiterated that his comprehensive proposal provides the basis for the settlement of Kosovo's status. It called for intensified efforts to reach agreement on a UN Security Council resolution on the issue.


The Council adopted Conclusions deploring the failure of Iran to comply with its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 and reasserting its full support to the Security Council including in its resolve, expressed in Resolution 1747, to adopt further appropriate measures.


The Council discussed the latest developments in the case of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya in connection with the infection of children with HIV/AIDS in Benghazi. The Presidency and Commission briefed the Council on their joint visit to Libya. The Council will continue to watch the situation closely and hopes that the case can be resolved in a way that leads to the release of the medical workers.


The Council discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and called for a rapid resolution to the crisis. It expressed its full support for President Abbas and decided to resume normal relations with the Palestinian Authority immediately, including through direct financial support, through support to the Palestinian police, capacity building for Palestinian institutions and the resumption of the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah. It also pledged to do its utmost to provide emergency and humanitarian assistance to the population of Gaza and reiterated its call on Israel to release tax and customs revenues.

The Council met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in separate session. The Council and Foreign Minister Livni agreed on the need to support President Abbas and moderate Palestinians, including through the release of tax and customs revenues to the Palestinian Authority, progress on the political track and co-operation with the Palestinian side on alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Strengthening EU-Arab League Relations

The Council discussed strengthening ties with the Arab League and tasked the relevant Council bodies to take forward consideration of the issue.