My hon. Friend the Minister for Africa attended the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 17 June. It was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Luxembourg.
The High Representative and Foreign Ministers discussed the most pressing issues on the international agenda. They referred to the situation in Venezuela, stressing their concern as the political and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. They reiterated their call for a political, negotiated solution within the framework of the Venezuelan constitution that would ultimately lead to free, fair and credible presidential elections and their support for efforts in this direction.
The High Representative and Foreign Ministers referred to the Helms-Burton Act, underlining the EU’s commitment to protect its businesses and to draw on all appropriate measures to address the effects of the Helms-Burton Act, including in relation to the EU’s WTO rights and through the use of the EU blocking statute.
They also discussed the situation in the Republic of Moldova, following the formation of the new Government. They reiterated the EU’s readiness to work with a reform-committed Government, on the basis of the EU-Moldova association agreement.
The High Representative also referred to the first anniversary of the Prespa agreement, which was signed by Greece and North Macedonia exactly one year ago.
EU global strategy
Foreign and Defence Ministers discussed the EU global strategy, in light of the High Representative’s third annual progress report: “The EU Global Strategy: three years on, looking forward”. They took stock of progress made in the last three years and reflected on future perspectives, adopting conclusions on EU action to strengthen rules-based multilateralism.
Ministers also focused on security and defence co-operation, and welcomed the substantive progress made to enhance the Union’s security and its role as a security provider and global actor, including through its common security and defence policy.
Common foreign and security policy effectiveness
Foreign Ministers discussed the common foreign and security policy (CFSP)’s effectiveness, reflecting the shifts underway in the global landscape. Ministers reflected on practical ideas for enhancing the effectiveness of the EU’s CFSP and in particular, on how to increase coherence and consistency to strengthen unity.
Ministers expressed their deep regret at the deteriorating situation following the violence on 3 June and underlined the opportunity for positive change in Sudan. The UK Minister led the widespread condemnation of violence and called for accountability, welcoming the messaging in the EU28 statement released immediately after the FAC. She suggested the EU consider targeted measures against those guilty of the most serious crimes and human rights violations.
Ministers expressed support for the AU’s leadership role and their efforts (alongside Ethiopia) to secure agreement for a civilian-led transition authority, delivering on the aspirations of the Sudanese people. There was broad agreement that the EU should provide immediate assistance to support humanitarian needs, while preparing a longer-term package to support a civilian transition authority.
Informal lunch on the middle east with the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi
Foreign Ministers had an exchange of views with the Foreign Minister of Jordan, Ayman Safadi. They focused on latest developments in the region, including Syria, tensions in the Gulf region, and prospects for the middle east peace process.
The Council agreed a number of measures:
The Council adopted conclusions on security and defence in the context of the EU global strategy.
The Council adopted conclusions on a new EU strategy on central Asia, adapting the EU policy to new opportunities that have emerged in the region.
The Council adopted conclusions on the EU’s engagement to the Black sea regional co-operation.
The Council adopted conclusions approving EU human rights guidelines on safe drinking water and sanitation.
The Council decided to revoke the framework for restrictive measures against the Maldives that it had adopted on 16 July 2018.
The Council approved and authorised the signature on behalf of the EU of a joint declaration with the Pacific alliance.
The Council adopted a decision on the position to be taken, on behalf of the European Union, in the Trade Committee established under the interim partnership agreement between the EU and the Pacific states, to take account of the accession of Samoa and of future accessions of other Pacific island states.