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Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 652: debated on Thursday 17 January 2019

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 21 January. It will be chaired by the high representative of the European Union (EU) for foreign affairs and security policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini and will take place in Brussels.

Current affairs

The HRVP is expected to cover Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo and may also raise Syria.

Disinformation

Ministers will discuss implementation of the EU joint action plan on countering disinformation that was approved at the December European Council. We will be pushing for adequate funding to allow for full implementation and a robust process of review to ensure that the plan achieves its objectives. We will also seek to highlight our leadership on this issue and willingness to collaborate with EU partners after March 2019. Russian state disinformation was a pre-cursor to conflict in Georgia in 2008, the invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and has been used across EU countries since. We have successfully countered a disinformation campaign targeted against UK interests across Europe following the Salisbury attack.

EU-LAS

Ministers will discuss the EU-League of Arab States (LAS) summit that will take place in February in Egypt. The summit is the first of its kind and offers an opportunity to deepen the EU’s relationship with members of the League of Arab States. The UK will support the EU’s ambition for the summit to cover a range of priority topics including migration, Yemen and Syria. We are expecting that the FAC will discuss the decision by some members of the LAS to re-establish diplomatic relations with Syria. The UK will be clear we have no plans to do so.

EU-ASEAN

The FAC will discuss regional issues and the future of the EU-ASEAN relationship ahead of the EU-ASEAN ministerial on the same day.

Council conclusions

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Nicaragua, ASEAN and possibly Yemen. With the French and Germans, we are also seeking approval of conclusions on Iran that should reaffirm the EU’s continued commitment to the JCPOA whilst also highlighting our concerns about Iran’s regional and ballistic missile activity.

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