I attended the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 29 January in Brussels. The FAC was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini.
The conclusions adopted can be found at:
The HRVP convened an extraordinary meeting of the FAC to discuss Ukraine following the shelling of Mariupol on 24 January and the intensifying violence in eastern Ukraine. The FAC condemned the recent escalation of fighting and reiterated the urgent need for all parties to fully assume their responsibility and to ensure the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, which remain the basis for a sustainable political solution to the crisis.
I underlined the scale of the tragedy at Mariupol, the largest loss of civilian life during the crisis bar MH17. I emphasised that diplomatic efforts must continue and that Russia had sought to change facts on the ground. The EU must respond to deter further escalation.
The FAC agreed to extend until September 2015 the restrictive measures targeting persons and entities for threatening or undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (adopted in March 2014 and subsequently updated). The HRVP and Commission were tasked to present within a week a proposal on additional listings for decision at the FAC on Monday 9 February. I emphasised that this should include preparing broader economic measures.
Ministers asked that further preparatory work be undertaken by the Commission and the EEAS on any appropriate action aimed at ensuring a swift and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements. In addition, the FAC tasked the HRVP, in co-operation with member states and EU institutions, to further improve strategic communication in support of EU policies and to explore options for the establishment of a dedicated communications team to lead these actions.