Foreign Affairs Council – 15 July 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written statement – made on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I attended the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 15 July. 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 Brussels.

Current Affairs

The High Representative and Foreign Ministers discussed the most pressing issues on the international agenda. This included Turkey's current drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Foreign Ministers also discussed the recent developments in Sudan. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto reported on his visit to the region on behalf of the EU. Ministers noted that the agreement reached between the Transitional Military Council and Forces for Freedom and Change on 11 July was an important breakthrough, and underlined the importance of supporting the civilian transition, including through additional financial support.

Ministers also touched on Venezuela, following the visit of Special Adviser Enrique Iglesias to Caracas on 7-10 July. They reiterated the EU's support for a political solution through the Oslo process, while underlining strong concerns over the human rights situation following the report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The High Representative also covered the EU-Ukraine Summit, the 5th anniversary of the downing of MH17, her recent visit to the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) and the outcome of the fifth EU-G5 Sahel Ministerial meeting in Ouagadougou (9 July).

Iran

I briefed the Council on my recent engagement on Iran. The Council discussed the tense situation in the Gulf region and recent announcements and steps by Tehran to reduce its implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). Ministers referred to ways of reducing the ongoing risk of military escalation and reiterated the EU's regret at the decision by the US to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Ministers also took stock of ongoing EU efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the special purpose vehicle "INSTEX" which is now operational. They also urged Iran to reverse the steps taken and reaffirmed that the EU's commitment to the nuclear deal depended on full compliance by Iran.

Iraq

The High Representative spoke to Ministers about her visit to Bagdad on 13-14 July. Foreign Ministers took stock of developments in Iraq and discussed how the EU could provide further support.

Central African Republic

Ministers reflected on how the EU could strengthen its support to encourage further implementation of the peace agreement signed in Bangui on 6 February 2019. They agreed to start working on plans for a possible civilian Common Security and Defence Policy mission.

External Aspects of Migration

Ministers agreed that efforts to address migration should be stepped up. They noted that greater financial resources were needed, especially for the EU Trust Fund for Africa. Ministers also discussed the importance of accelerating resettlement of persons needing international protection and making progress on the disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea.

Lunch with the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Moldova Nicolae Popescu

Foreign Ministers conveyed their support, as well as their expectations, on the implementation of reforms related to the Association Agreement, and their willingness to resume conditional EU financial support.

Council Conclusions

The Council agreed a number of measures:

  • The Council adopted conclusions on Iraq.
  • The Council adopted conclusions on Turkish drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • The Council adopted conclusions on the EU's priorities at the 74th UN General Assembly.
  • A decision was adopted by the Council on sanctions against North Korea following the annual review.
  • The Council authorised the opening of negotiations on a joint political declaration of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation.
  • The Council adopted the EU's position in view of the second EU-Cuba Joint Council that will take place on 9 September in Havana.
  • The Council approved the update of the military requirements for military mobility within and beyond the EU.
  • The Council approved the adoption of an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) statement on aviation partnership.
  • The Council approved the adoption of an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) statement on "Promoting women, peace and security at the ASEAN Regional Forum".
  • The Council transposed an amendment adopted by the UN concerning one person listed under the South Sudan sanctions framework.
  • The Council adopted the position to be taken on behalf of the EU in the Joint Committee established by the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the EU and the Philippines.
  • The Council adopted the position to be taken by the EU in the Cote d'Ivoire-EU EPA Committee regarding adoption of Protocol 1 concerning the definition of the concept of 'originating products' and methods for administrative cooperation (rules of origin).
  • The Council endorsed the text of six Working Papers and one Information paper to be submitted by Finland on behalf of the European Union and its Member States to the 40th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
  • The Council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to enter into negotiations on the modernisation of the Charter Treaty (10738/19). The Council also adopted negotiating directives (10745/19 ADD 1). In parallel, the representatives of the governments of the member states that are parties to the Energy Charter Treaty adopted a decision authorising the Commission to enter into negotiations for the elements falling under the competence of the Member States.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1732