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General Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs Council (22 March)

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

The General Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs Council will be held on 22 March in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will represent the UK.

The agenda items are as follows:

Foreign Affairs Council (fac)


Ministers will discuss the EU’s response to Haiti and seek to agree a common position for the global donors’ conference in New York on 31 March. This is likely to include: a common aggregated figure for EU commitment for reconstruction; a long-term plan for economic growth and development; and a commitment to joint programming to enhance aid effectiveness. Ministers will also discuss the creation of an “EU House” in Haiti to enhance co-ordination and represent EU donors not present on the ground. They may also discuss plans for further work on the EU’s emergency response capability.


We expect Ministers to be updated on the latest developments following the tragic earthquake on Saturday 27 February. The UK has responded to specific requests made by the Chilean Government and provided £250,000 to the Red Cross and delivered 600 tents to World Vision through DFID and the MOD. With EU partners, the UK has provided €3 million for the relief effort through European Commission Humanitarian Aid.


Ministers will discuss the work of the new EU Representative for Afghanistan, Vygaudas Ušackas, focusing on his immediate priorities. These include implementation of the EU action plan, follow-up to the London conference and preparations for the Kabul conference. The upcoming EU-Pakistan summit on 21 April may also be discussed.

Follow-up to Gymnich

Ministers will continue their discussions on how the EU’s post-Lisbon structures can deliver more coherent, co-ordinated and effective EU actions, including in its relations with emerging powers. Ongoing planning for the European External Action Service may also be discussed under this item.

Any Other Business: Belarus/Ukraine/Moldova

Under AOB, Ministers are likely to discuss Belarus’s treatment of its Polish minority, internal developments in Moldova and visa issues in relation to Ukraine and Moldova.

Middle East

Over lunch, Ministers will review recent developments on the MEPP with Quartet Representative, Tony Blair. Baroness Ashton is expected to brief on her visit to the region this week, and the Quartet meeting in Moscow on 19 March. Ministers are likely to agree an EU declaration for the EU/Israel Association Council, which will take place in Brussels on 23 March.

General Affairs Council (GAC)

The GAC will present and discuss the draft Council conclusions for the spring European Council on the 25 and 26 March including points on EU2020 and climate change. On EU2020, we will seek to make progress on the agreement of a comprehensive European economic strategy that delivers strong, sustainable and balanced growth. On climate change, we will seek to ensure continued international focus on the goal of a legally binding treaty.