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Foreign Affairs and General Affairs Councils

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 14 January 2016

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 18 January and I will attend the General Affairs Council on 18 January. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council will be chaired by the Dutch presidency. The meetings will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

The expected agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council will include Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. The Jordanian Foreign Minister will attend lunch where discussion will focus on Syria, Iraq, Daesh.

Syria

Ministers will exchange views on the International Syria Support Group meeting in December and the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2254, as well as the prospects for the talks between the Syrian parties in early 2016 and the situation on the ground.

Iraq

Following the FAC conclusions on Iraq agreed at the December FAC, Ministers will have an opportunity for an in-depth discussion of the political and security situation in Iraq. This will come at an important time, given the recent capture of the town of Ramadi from Daesh. We expect the discussion to focus on what more the EU and member states can do to support long-term security, stability and prosperity in Iraq. We will also use the opportunity to look forward to the review of the EU ISIL/Syria/lraq strategy to be completed in March.

Jordan

Ministers will be joined for lunch by the Foreign Minister of Jordan, Mr Nasser Judeh. Jordan is a key ally in the fight against Daesh, and is host to over 630,000 refugees from the Syria crisis. At the upcoming Syria donor conference the UK aims to secure increased international support to Jordan’s long-term economic resilience and stability. Ministers will discuss measures that the EU can take and the full range of regional issues.

Ukraine

Ministers are expected to exchange views on Ukraine’s reform programme and agree a set of priorities that will direct the work of the EU’s support group to Ukraine. We also expect Ministers to discuss what further support the EU can give Ukraine for the implementation of its reform programme, including on strategic communications.

General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 18 January is expected to focus on the presidency work programme and preparation of the European Council on 18 and 19 February 2016.

Presidency Work programme

The Dutch presidency commenced on 1 January. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Albert Koenders, will set out the presidency’s programme and priorities for the current semester. The programme is based on the presidency trio programme, developed jointly with Slovakia and Malta, but will focus on four main themes: jobs and growth; labour mobility; the Eurozone; and a Union of freedom, justice and security.

Preparation of the February European Council

The GAC will prepare the agenda for the 18 and 19 February European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The draft February European Council agenda covers: the UK’s EU renegotiation, migration, and economic issues.

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