My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Defence Ministers) on 6 March. 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 Brussels.
Foreign Affairs Council
The morning will start with a joint session for Foreign and Defence Ministers on defence. The foreign policy agenda will feature western Balkans, migration, Egypt and the middle east peace process.
Ahead of the joint session, Defence Ministers will discuss the strategic outlook for the EU’s common security and defence policy (CSDP). EU Foreign and Defence Ministers will then review the implementation of the December European Council package on defence. The discussion and conclusions will cover: improving the functioning of non-executive military (training) missions through the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC); permanent structured co-operation (PESCO) for better joint capability development; and the proposed co-ordinated annual review on defence (CARD).
Ahead of discussion on the western Balkans at the March European Council, HRVP Mogherini will brief Ministers on her forthcoming regional tour and update the Council on the EU-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. In her 17 January speech, the Prime Minister identified the western Balkans as a region in which the UK has played and will continue to play an active role in promoting European security.
There may be a discussion on migration following the Valletta senior official meeting on 8-9 February which reviewed progress against the Valletta action plan. The UK used its chairmanship of the Khartoum process in 2016 to encourage implementation of the Valletta action plan to tackle unmanaged migration flows from the horn of Africa. The UK provided a total of £4 billion in aid for Africa in 2015-16, with an increasing focus on jobs and livelihoods.
Foreign Minister Shoukry will attend the lunch discussion where Ministers will discuss Egypt’s relationship with the EU and role in the region. Discussions are expected to cover Egypt’s political and human rights situation, including the growing restrictions on civil society. Ministers are also likely to discuss how the EU can best help strengthen Egypt’s internal security, co-operate on bringing stability to Libya, and work together on combating illegal migration in the region.
Middle east peace process
Ministers will discuss developments on the middle east peace process (MEPP) and are likely to discuss obstacles to peace, including incitement, terrorism, demolitions and recent settlement announcements.