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Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 598: debated on Thursday 16 July 2015

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 July. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Foreign Affairs Council


Ministers will have an exchange of views on Iran and will consider what the joint comprehensive plan of action means for future EU-Iran relations including the EU wider geopolitical approach, beyond sanctions. The Foreign Affairs Council is likely to welcome the Iran deal through conclusions.


After the Bardo Museum terrorist attack in March, the EU and member states agreed to intensify co-operation with Tunisia. Following the further terrorist attack at Sousse on 26 June—which resulted in the deaths of 30 British nationals—Tunisia’s need for support is greater and more urgent than ever. The evolving security situation has meant the FCO is advising against all but essential travel to Tunisia. We have not taken this decision lightly but our first priority will always be the safety of our citizens. We believe it is essential to offer support both to Tunisia’s economy and its security. The terrorist attacks have affected Tunisia’s tourist industry, causing further damage to its economy. At the same time, regional inequalities and high unemployment—particularly among the youth—are fuelling dissatisfaction and extremism.

We will urge the EU to take steps urgently to support regionalisation, micro-financing and job creation—particularly for the youth in regions outside the North/West coastal regions. On security and counter-terrorism, we will urge the EU to support a package of CT and security measures to deepen our understanding of the threat, increase our options to disrupt it, support capacity-building in Tunisia, and ensure our response is fully co-ordinated with international partners. Helping the Tunisians deliver better security is the key priority, and will allow us to review our travel advice.

Middle east peace process

Ministers are expected to discuss what more the EU can do to support prospects for the middle east peace process, including the situation in Gaza.

EU action plan on human rights and democracy

Ministers will discuss the proposed new EU action plan on human rights and democracy for 2015 to 2019, with a view to its adoption by the Council.

Climate change and post-2015 development agenda

The FAC will discuss the outcomes of the Addis Ababa conference on financing for development due to take place 13-16 July, and look forward to the summit on the post-2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the Paris climate conference in December. The UK places high importance on working with developing countries on both these issues.

On the post-2015 development agenda, we believe that there should be a set of clear communications messages in the final outcome and that we, together with EU partners, should communicate the final set of sustainable development goals the world over, encouraging all countries to start focusing on implementing the agenda.

On climate change, we welcome the co-ordinated EU diplomatic effort to demonstrate our climate leadership in support of a global low-carbon transition and to those most vulnerable to climate risks. We continue to press for a global deal in Paris in December, with an ambitious set of emissions reductions contributions from all parties and a framework for future review which keep us on track to limiting global temperature rises to below 2°C.

Mediterranean Migration

We believe that the EU must continue to address the root causes of refugees and economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean and identify comprehensive solutions in those countries from which migrants originate and transit that will reduce the push factors, build stability, create livelihoods, and tackle the criminal gangs and smuggling networks. The UK is leading the way through alleviating poverty and working to stabilise countries of origin and transit. We are disrupting smuggling networks. We are tackling the perception that getting on a boat will lead to automatic entry into the EU. And we continue to work closely with EU and African partners.