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House of Commons Hansard

Foreign Affairs Council/General Affairs Council

15 June 2016
Volume 611
  • My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 June and I will attend the General Affairs Council on 24 June. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council will be chaired by the Dutch presidency. The meetings will be held in Luxembourg.

    Foreign Affairs Council

    The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include the Arctic, Sahel, middle east peace process and Macedonia. Ms Mogherini is expected to raise Libya, Burma, cultural diplomacy and the forthcoming EU-China summit in her opening remarks.

    The Arctic

    The UK will support the proposed Council conclusions on the Arctic which we expect to be adopted at the Council, following the publication of the Joint Communication on 27 April. The conclusions acknowledge the important role the EU has in helping to meet the challenges now facing the region, and that the EU should focus on those areas where it can add value, such as research, climate change and the environment.

    Sahel

    The discussion will focus on the EU’s overall approach to the Sahel, and its support to the G5 Sahel group of countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger). Ministers will consider how to accelerate implementation of the Mali peace agreement one year after its signature. The UK priority will be to ensure the EU’s approach in the Sahel and the instruments at its disposal are focused on tackling the long-term drivers of instability and migration.

    Middle East Peace Process

    Ministers will exchange views on the outcome of the international meeting which was held in Paris on 3 June.

    Macedonia

    Discussion will focus on the long-standing political crisis in Macedonia. We expect Ministers to register their concern about negative developments in the rule of law, and the impact on regional stability, as well as signal to Macedonia’s leaders that they must reverse this negative trend.

    Libya

    Discussions will focus on extending EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia's mandate to take on two additional tasks: capacity-building and training of the Libyan coastguard and implementing the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.

    General Affairs Council

    The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 24 June is expected to focus on preparation of the June European Council, European semester, inter-institutional agreement, better regulation and transparency.

    Preparation of the June European Council

    The GAC will discuss the agenda for the 28-29 June European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The agenda will focus on migration, jobs, growth and investment, external relations and the outcome of the UK referendum.

    European semester

    The GAC will look to approve the country specific recommendations ahead of the European Council.

    Inter-Institutional agreement (IIA) and better regulation

    The Commission’s 2017 work programme is tabled for discussion at the General Affairs Council ahead of its release in October. The GAC will also discuss legislative programming in future years.

    AOBSlovakia’s presidency priorities

    The GAC will take note of the draft priorities presented by Slovakia for their EU presidency, which begins on 1 July. They intend to focus on four areas: economic and financial; single market; external relations; and migration. The Slovak presidency will continue the work of the Dutch presidency, and be followed by that of their trio partner, Malta.

    [HCWS41]