My Noble Friend, the Minister of State for Defence (The Rt Hon Earl Howe) and I attended the Joint Foreign Affairs Council (FAC). I also attended a meeting of the FAC for Foreign Ministers only. The Council was chaired by the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Luxembourg.
Security and defence cooperation
Foreign and Defence Ministers discussed EU security and defence cooperation, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Military Mobility, the European Defence Fund, the European Peace Facility, the fight against hybrid threats, and the importance of strengthening the EU's resilience to such threats and civilian capability development.
The Council adopted conclusions on security and defence. It also adopted a decision setting out governance rules for projects undertaken under PESCO, and approved the overarching high-level part of the military requirements for Military Mobility within and beyond the EU.
Ahead of the NATO Summit on 11-12 July, Foreign and Defence Ministers exchanged views on EU-NATO cooperation with NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg. Against the background of challenges in the transatlantic relationship, Ministers underlined the continuing good collaboration on security and defence between the EU and NATO. Ministers also highlighted the important progress made on the 74 concrete actions implementing the July 2016 Joint Declaration between the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the NATO Secretary General. Ministers encouraged further cooperation, in particular on Military Mobility and on countering hybrid threats.
Ministers discussed Yemen with the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, who briefed them on his peace plan. Ministers exchanged views on ongoing EU efforts and explored ways to strengthen the UN-led process. The Council adopted conclusions on Yemen.
Horn of Africa and the Red Sea
The Council discussed and adopted conclusions on the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. Ministers highlighted the strategic importance of the region for the EU. They expressed their support to efforts aimed at the creation of an organised and inclusive regional forum for dialogue and cooperation around the Red Sea.
EU Global Strategy
The Council reviewed the implementation of the EU Global Strategy based on the second implementation progress report. Ministers welcomed the important progress made.
The HRVP reported back on her recent visit to Jordan. Ministers expressed their strong support for Jordan as one of the countries most affected by the crisis in Syria. Ministers took stock of EU/Jordanian relations including socio-economic cooperation under the EU-Jordan partnership. They expressed the importance of maintaining a high level of support to Jordan which faces a critical time both politically and economically and highlighted the importance of supporting the new government to continue economic and social reforms.
The Council also agreed a number of measures without discussion:
- The Council adopted the EU priorities at the UN and 73rd UN General Assembly;
- The Council adopted conclusions on Sahel/Mali;
- The Council adopted the decision on the signing and provisional application of a Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the EU and Israel to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the EU;
- The Council placed seven individuals under restrictive measures in light of the situation in Myanmar/Burma;
- The Council extended the mandates of six EU Special Representatives for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central Asia, Horn of Africa, Kosovo, Sahel and the South Caucasus, and the crisis in Georgia;
- The Council decided to put 11 individuals holding official positions under restrictive measures who are responsible for human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela;
- The Council approved the Progress Catalogue 2018;
- The Council adopted conclusions on EU cooperation with cities and local authorities in third countries.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: