Skip to main content

Foreign Affairs Council: 17 October

Volume 615: debated on Thursday 13 October 2016

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 October. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Luxembourg.

Foreign Affairs Council

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include the European global strategy, external migration, Tunisia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ministers will have a discussion on Syria over lunch.

European Global Strategy

EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the follow-up to June’s European global strategy, including the security and defence implementation plan. The UK remains committed to European security and will engage constructively in these discussions, including ensuring complementarity with NATO.


Ministers will discuss migration issues. We expect an update on progress establishing partnership frameworks, currently focused on co-operation on migration, with five initial priority countries—Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. The UK welcomes the comprehensive approach envisaged under the partnerships, including tackling the root causes of irregular migration. We will continue to argue that the EU must also look strategically at the regions and countries which offer the most opportunity for impact, including in Asia, to deliver the most effective and sustainable response to the migration crisis.

There is also likely to be discussion of the follow-up to the UN high-level meeting on large movements of migrants and refugees and President Obama’s Refugee summit in New York in September. The high-level meeting, hosted by the UN Secretary-General on 19 September, agreed the New York declaration for migrants and refugees, which announced plans for the adoption in 2018 of two global compacts: on safe, orderly and regular migration, and on refugees. Strong EU engagement in these negotiations can help deliver a better global system for managing migration. For the UK, this means helping to ensure that refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach; better distinguishing between refugees fleeing persecution and economic migrants; and recognising that all countries have the right to control their borders.


Following the recent publication of the Joint Communication on EU support for Tunisia, Ministers will discuss the country’s economic and security challenges. The Joint Communication proposes to increase the EU’s financial assistance and activity in governance, civil society, tackling unemployment and corruption, and other measures. We expect discussions will also cover options for increasing support on trade and the implementation of economic reforms, in the context of Tunisia’s International Investment Conference in November. Ministers will debate the ambition for increased EU activity, and whether the measures set out by the EU are appropriately focused.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Discussions will focus on the EU response to the political impasse and recent violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The European External Action Service is preparing a co-ordinated EU response to press the DRC Government to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as to pressure them to set a date and timetable for presidential elections in 2017. We are aiming for an agreement in principle on sanctions on figures in the DRC security forces that are responsible for suppression of fundamental freedoms and abuse of human rights. This would be to influence the Government and security figures to respect human rights and focus on finding an inclusive political solution to avoid further bloodshed over the coming weeks and months, especially around 19 December when President Kabila’s democratic mandate expires.