My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Informal Foreign Affairs Council (Gymnich) on 31 January and 1 February. It was chaired by the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Bucharest, Romania.
The discussion of the Eastern Partnership confirmed the importance of the partnership and how much it had achieved in the last 10 years with a need to keep focusing on anti-corruption, rule of law, freedom of movement and values; with cyber, stratcomms, energy security, P2P, CSDP and connectivity all cited as newer areas for future attention.
Foreign Ministers expressed concern about the situation in Venezuela, and agreed the importance of holding elections. Foreign Ministers recalled their Council conclusions in May 2018, which stated that the elections were neither free nor fair, and reiterated the need for free and transparent elections respecting the constitutional rules of Venezuela. The HRVP announced the formation of an International Contact Group for Venezuela, with the first meeting due to take place on 7 February in Montevideo.
Foreign Ministers had a broad discussion about China’s growing role in the world including EU—China co-operation on the JCPoA and climate change. There was agreement that the EU’s 2016 China strategy remained relevant and calls for greater EU unity on shared areas of interest. Foreign Ministers also held a discussion on China with candidate countries (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey).