The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), and the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Gavin Williamson), attended the joint session of the Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Defence Ministers) on 13 November. The Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Brussels.
Foreign Affairs Council
EU Foreign Ministers discussed EU-Africa relations and EU strategic communications. EU Defence Ministers discussed EU-NATO and met as the European Defence Agency steering board. EU Foreign and Defence Ministers also participated in a joint session on security and defence co-operation.
The Council adopted conclusions on Venezuela and agreed targeted sanctions to encourage a peaceful, negotiated solution. These included an embargo on arms and related material that might be used for internal repression, and a legal framework for the possible targeted listing of persons.
Foreign Ministers discussed EU-Africa relations with particular reference to the upcoming fifth African Union-EU summit on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. EU Foreign Ministers welcomed the focus on youth and discussed the common challenges which were expected to be covered at the summit.
EU strategic communications
Foreign Ministers discussed the European External Action Service’s current work on strategic communications for the eastern partnership region, the southern neighbourhood and the western Balkans. The Council agreed to further enhance the work, and supported the development of the three taskforces. EU Foreign Ministers underlined the need to counter disinformation where and when needed.
Security and defence co-operation
EU Foreign and Defence Ministers discussed the implementation of the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence. In the margins of the Council, 23 member states signed a notification for the establishment of a permanent structured co-operation (PESCO). The UK did not sign.
EU Defence Ministers discussed EU-NATO co-operation together with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
European Defence Agency
EU Defence Ministers met as the European Defence Agency (EDA) steering board.
Ministers agreed a number of measures without discussion:
the Council adopted the legal acts providing for the delisting of the FARC from the EU list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures to combat terrorism;
the Council adopted conclusions on a strategic approach to resilience in the EU’s external action;
the Council appointed Toivo Klaar as EU special representative for the south Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia;
the Council adopted a regulation reviewing the list of luxury goods subject to an import and export ban on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;
the Council adopted a decision to open negotiations on a missions framework participation agreement with Jordan;
the Council approved the requirements catalogue 2017 which identifies the military capability requirements for the common security and defence policy stemming from the EU level of ambition as agreed by the Council in November 2016;
the Council endorsed the European Defence Agency report and adopted the guidelines for the work of the European Defence Agency in 2018;
the Council established the EU position ahead of the ninth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between the EU and Albania which will take place on 15 November in Brussels; and
the Council established the EU position ahead of the fourth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between the EU and Serbia which will take place on 16 November in Brussels.