The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 10 December. It will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini, and will take place in Brussels.
Ministers will discuss the European External Action Service (EEAS) proposal for an international contact group (ICG) on Venezuela. The ICG would aim to act as a catalyst for an international process towards a solution to the ongoing Venezuelan crisis. The Council will also seek to agree a joint EU response to President Maduro’s re-inauguration on 10 January; the EU strongly criticised the conduct of the presidential elections that were held in May 2018.
Ministers will discuss the political situation in the western Balkans, focusing on progress towards implementation of the Prespa agreement on Macedonia’s name deal, the EU-facilitated dialogue on Serbia-Kosovo and post-election Government formation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
EU-African Union co-operation
Ministers will discuss EU-African Union co-operation ahead of an EU-AU ministerial meeting that will take place in January; the recently announced EU-Africa alliance will be the main focus of this meeting. The alliance has ambitious goals, including on investment and job creation. The UK will support the EU’s ambition to develop the partnership with Africa as this is in line with UK’s strategic approach to the continent.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister will join EU Ministers to discuss the recent Russian aggression in the Black sea and the support he might expect from the EU. The UK will reiterate the need for collective messaging to Russia and for the urgent release of the detained crew and vessels. Russian action is a further example of its ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The UK will reaffirm its support to Ukraine, for the right of free passage in the Kerch strait, and will welcome assurances from President Poroshenko that the martial law imposed across 10 regions will not be used to restrict individual rights.
We are expecting a wide-ranging, strategic discussion, covering the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPoA), regional issues, ballistic missiles, and hostile Iranian activity in Europe. We will continue to emphasise that we remain committed to the JCPoA, including continued sanctions relief through the special purpose vehicle, for as long as Iran remains in compliance with its nuclear commitments under the deal. We will also underline that this commitment will not prevent us from taking action on other areas of concern such as Iran’s destabilising regional and ballistic missile activity. The discussion may also focus on the need to tackle the shared challenge of recent threats to European security.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the EU strategy on India, Burma, women peace and security and Libya.