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Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 638: debated on Wednesday 28 March 2018

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 19 March. The Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

Current Affairs

The Council discussed the Salisbury attack and adopted a statement expressing the European Union’s (EU) unqualified solidarity with, and support for, the UK, including for our efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this crime. The EU takes extremely seriously the UK Government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible.


The Council discussed recent developments, in particular, in Ukraine’s reform process. Ahead of the Ukraine Reform conference that will take place in Copenhagen on 27 June, Ministers welcomed the progress on economic reform but underlined the need for increased efforts in other areas, including the judiciary and anti-corruption.

The Council reiterated its commitment to its policy of non-recognition and support for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Ministers expressed their concern over humanitarian issues in eastern Ukraine and reiterated their full support for the work of the OSCE in the region.


The Council discussed the latest developments in Syria with the Secretary General of the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. Ministers commended his tireless efforts to push for a political solution to the conflict and recalled that the EU has clearly stated there can be no military solution to the conflict. Ministers expressed their concern over the continued deterioration in the humanitarian situation, in particular in Afrin and eastern Ghouta. They urged all those involved to fully and immediately implement UN Security Council resolution 2401. They also discussed possible repercussions of the situation in Syria for the wider region.

Finally the Council discussed the forthcoming second Brussels conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” on 24-25 April 2018, which will be co-chaired by the EU and the UN.

Informal lunch on the Korean peninsula

Ministers and the HRVP discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula over an informal lunch with the South Korean Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha. Ministers looked ahead to the summit between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in that is scheduled for April and the meeting announced between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.


The Council discussed Iran. Ministers underlined the importance of the Iran nuclear deal - the JCPOA - for the security of the region and beyond. They highlighted the need to ensure continuous commitment of all parties involved to the Agreement.

Ministers also discussed other issues outside the scope of the JCPOA, in particular Iran’s ballistic missiles programme, as well as Iran's role in the increasing tensions in the region, including in Syria and Yemen.

Ministers agreed a number of measures without discussion:

The Council lifted the restrictive measures against three persons who had perpetrated violent acts during the incidents in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) on 10 February 1997.

The Council prolonged, for 12 months, the validity of the Council decision of 21 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures, making it possible to impose an asset freeze and a travel ban on persons whose activities undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order of Bosnia and Herzegovina or seriously threaten its security situation.

The Council added four persons to the list of those targeted by EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime.

The Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations, on behalf of the Union, on an international legally-binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.