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Foreign Affairs Council: Development

Volume 618: debated on Tuesday 13 December 2016

On 28 November, I attended the Foreign Affairs Council for Development in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini. A provisional report of the meeting and conclusions adopted will be deposited in the Library of the House for the convenience of Members.

The UK is leaving the EU. While we remain a member we will continue to play a full role in line with our rights and obligations and represent the interests of the people of the United Kingdom.

European consensus on development

The Council discussed the European Commission proposal on a new European consensus on development following a presentation by Neven Mimica, the Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development. Discussion of a new consensus, in light of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, centred on retaining the fundamental focus on poverty eradication and human development, but with calls for more work on tackling the root causes of migration; engaging civil society and the private sector; and ensuring greater links between development and humanitarian work. I emphasised the need to finish the job on the millennium development goals, but to also go beyond aid to support countries emerging from poverty.

A renewed partnership with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (“Post-Cotonou”)

Development Commissioner Mimica set out a proposal to renew the EU’s partnership with Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) when the Cotonou agreement expires in 2020. I highlighted the UK’s desire for a differentiated approach towards partner countries at different stages of development and called for a light-touch framework which gives flexibility to work with different developing country partners as well as non-EU donors, saying that the UK wanted to take a full part in the debate now and could be a partner in future. I also welcomed the broad focus on Africa and the continued importance of the EU’s relationship with the Caribbean and the Pacific. HRVP Mogherini concluded that more work needed to be done to achieve a common position before a negotiating mandate could be proposed next year.

Energy and development

Council conclusions on energy and development were agreed by the Council during a lunch discussion attended by Ministers and Maroš Šefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for the energy union. Vice-President Šefcovic focused on the importance of improving linkages between energy and sustainable development. I emphasised the opportunity provided by enhanced private sector involvement in renewable energy investments.

Migration and development

HRVP Mogherini led discussions between member states that built on the various initiatives that had been launched since last year’s Valletta summit, including the emergency trust fund for Africa, the new partnership framework and ongoing negotiations on the external investment plan. On the partnership framework, the UK joined other member states in calling for a full assessment on the effectiveness of progress with current priority countries before further expansion.

Other agenda items

Ministers adopted several sets of Council conclusions, including on mainstreaming digital solutions and technologies in EU development policy, the Court of Auditors report on humanitarian aid to the great lakes region, energy and development, and the EU common position for the second high-level meeting of the global partnership for effective development co-operation. Details of these Council conclusions will also be placed in the Library of the House.