Skip to main content

Foreign Affairs Council/Foreign Ministers (Informal Meeting)

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on 10 March, ahead of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 11 March attended by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Baroness Ashton chaired the meeting. Her remarks ahead of the meeting can be found at the link below.

Discussion focused on action to increase pressure on the Libyan regime and the draft declaration by the European Council. The Foreign Secretary and others called for the stepping-up of pressure, to include consideration of a no-fly zone, based on a proper legal base, regional support and a demonstrable need. Many Ministers took the opportunity to comment on the draft Council declaration. Baroness Ashton conveyed these comments to President van Rompuy and EU Heads of Government at their meeting the following day.

The Foreign Secretary welcomed the Commission’s and External Action Service’s communication on the EU’s policy on the southern neighbourhood (see link below). In particular, he noted that the communication expressed the right level of ambition, and brought clarity as to what conditionality might mean in practice. He stressed the EU’s new offer to the region should be based on market access and progress towards political reforms.

An FCO report of the meeting, including comments by the Foreign Secretary, can be found at:


My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the Gymnich informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers of 11-12 March. The meeting was co-hosted by Hungarian Foreign Minister Martonyi (EU Presidency) and Baroness Ashton. Discussions focused on Libya, north Africa and the middle east, including a substantive session on these issues with Turkey, Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia and Montenegro. Ministers reviewed the Council’s declaration agreed the day before.

Additionally, there were brief discussions of other countries in the middle east and north Africa. There was broad support for the EU efforts to aid transition in Egypt and Tunisia.

Baroness Ashton and Commissioner Fule (enlargement/neighbourhood) briefed on the joint communication on southern neighbourhood policy (link included in FAC informal report above).

Baroness Ashton’s concluding remarks can be found at: do?reference=SPEECH/11/171&format= TML&aged=0&language=en&guiLanguage=en.