Foreign Affairs Council with Foreign Affairs Ministers: 16 May
The Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, will take place in Brussels starting at 11.00. It will be preceded by the EU- Canada Joint Ministerial Committee (8.45-10.45).
The Council will first hold a strategic discussion on the Western Balkans region, notably on the EU’s engagement to mitigate the impact of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Over lunch, ministers will hold an informal exchange of views with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkans partners.
The Council will then have a discussion on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, focusing on continued EU support to Ukraine, diplomatic outreach, accountability, the on-going work on an Action Plan on the global consequences of the Russian aggression and countering foreign information manipulation and interference.
For this discussion, EU foreign affairs ministers will be joined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Kuleba. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Joly will also be present.
Under current affairs, the High Representative will debrief the Council on his visit to Chile and Panama and will raise the issue of delayed EU financial support to Palestinian Authority.
Under AOBs, two EU foreign affairs ministers are expected to inform the Council about the state of their respective NATO applications.
Doorstep High Representative: +/- 8.30
Press conference: at the end of the meeting at +/- 18.00 in hybrid format
The Foreign Affairs Council in its Defence configuration will meet in Brussels at 10.15 and will be chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. It will be preceded by the European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Board starting at 9.00.
EU defence ministers will first be informed about current affairs, and specifically with relation to latest developments in Mali.
The Council will discuss the implementation of the Strategic Compass with a focus on the future of CSDP missions and operations and the Russian Aggression against Ukraine.
Ministers will also have an informal exchange with the NATO Secretary General and with the
Defence Minister of Ukraine, who will join via VTC.
With regard to the first discussion item, ministers are expected to discuss the way forward on the implementation of the Strategic Compass focusing on the effectiveness of EU military CSDP missions and operations, including robust, flexible and modular mandates, decision-making, command and control, and the European Peace Facility.
Concerning the Russian aggression against Ukraine, ministers will focus on its military aspects, as well as additional ways to further support Ukraine, including by providing military assistance.
Doorstep of the HRVP: +/- 8.30
Press conference on FAC: +/- 15.30 in a hybrid format
Foreign Affairs Council with Foreign Affairs Ministers: 16 May
The Foreign Affairs Council will have a strategic discussion on how the EU can help mitigate the impact of the Russian aggression against Ukraine on the Western Balkans region. Ministers will explore possible EU actions to further focus the EU’s engagement in the region. They will also consider how to help the Western Balkans partners increase their resilience, particularly against coercion from third actors and hybrid threats, notably cyber threats and information manipulation.
Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine is having a significant impact on the entire European continent and is putting in the spotlight the importance of the EU- Western Balkans relations. It also draws attention to possible greater risks for the region. In this context, EU integration remains the strongest geopolitical tool for the EU to preserve stability and foster prosperity.
Ministers will discuss expectations towards the Western Balkans regarding commitment to European values and to EU foreign policy. The EU aims to rally its partners around the protection of shared values and key international norms, as well as the denunciation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine as a gross violation of international law that endangers global peace and security. The discussion will also focus on the implementation of EU sanctions and the prevention of their circumvention.
Ministers are expected to touch on how the EU can further help the Western Balkans mitigate the far-reaching economic effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the region.
Since November 2021, the EU has stepped up its cooperation with the Western Balkans on foreign policy. All Western Balkans partners are invited to provide written contributions ahead of each FAC and are debriefed afterwards. Moreover, the bi-annual high-level CFSP dialogues with all Western Balkans partners together and the separate CFSP dialogue with Serbia have been re-launched.
The need for enhanced engagement with the Western Balkans, complementary to the accession process, was agreed in the Foreign Affairs Council in May and November 2021.
Over a working lunch EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will hold an informal exchange with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all the Western Balkans partners present in Brussels.
The Foreign Affairs Council will discuss the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and will focus on the latest developments on the ground and strands of EU action. Particularly, ministers will discuss EU support to Ukraine, diplomatic outreach, deterrence measures, Russian information manipulation and interference activities and efforts to ensure accountability.
During the discussion, ministers will have the opportunity to hold an informal exchange with the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, who will provide an overview of the latest developments on the ground and the Ukrainian expectations in relation to the EU’s political, military and economic support. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mélanie Joly, will also join the discussion.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine grossly violates International Law and is causing massive loss of life and injury to civilians. Russia is directing attacks against the civilian population and is targeting civilian objects, including hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shelters. These war crimes must stop immediately. Those responsible, and their accomplices, will be held accountable in accordance with International Law.
EU supports all measures to ensure accountability for human rights violations and violations of International Humanitarian Law in Ukraine.
The EU demands that Russia immediately stop its military aggression in the territory of Ukraine, immediately and unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders.
The Foreign Affairs Council will have a discussion on current affairs during which ministers will be able to exchange views on recent events and on fast-moving developments in external relations.
The High Representative will inform the Council about his recent mission to Latin America, where he met leaders in Chile and in Panama. In Chile, he had bilateral meetings with President Gabriel Boric, and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonia Urrejola. In Panama, apart from bilateral meetings with President Cortizo and Foreign Minister Mouynes, the High Representative took part in the joint meeting of the Foreign Ministers from Central America (Central American Integration System, SICA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The High Representative will also provide an update on EU financial support to Palestine, as a follow up to its mention at the April FAC meeting.
The situation in Ethiopia may be briefly raised, in preparation of the June Council meeting, as well as the ongoing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Council is expected to approve conclusions on an EU Strategic Approach in support of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of Former Combatants (DDR).
The Council is also expected to approve the EU position for the 4th meeting of the EU-Armenia Partnership Council (Brussels, 18 May 2022).
The Council will start with a discussion on current affairs, during which ministers will receive an update on Mali.
Ministers will be informed in particular about the latest developments, and exchange on the future EU engagement in the country against the background of the temporary suspension of trainings provided by EUTM and EUCAP Mali to the local armed forces and the National Guard, which was decided by the EU in April 2022.
The Council will hold a discussion about the effectiveness of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations in view of the Strategic Compass’ objective of strengthening it, in the “Act” chapter.
The context of engagement of EU missions and operations, especially training missions, has changed considerably in recent years. The security situation is becoming more uncertain as EU partners are increasingly demanding, and other actors become increasingly active. As a result, the EU must evolve its military model in order for the EU to remain competitive and place itself as a global player in the field of security and defence
Furthermore, the EU may face increasing difficulties to secure the renewal of those UN Security Council resolutions, which provide the legal basis for its missions and operations.
With the Strategic Compass, the EU has the momentum to develop its military CSDP ambitions, and additional tools at its disposal to consider adapted models for its military missions and operations.
Ministers will in particular discuss the following options: enhancing the robustness, efficiency and flexibility of the mandates for CSDP missions and operations; designing a more preventive CSDP posture through the expansion of military cooperation and advice; accompanying the implementation of the European Peace Facility with military expertise; introducing a more agile model of EU military action through small teams of advisers and increasing the use of military advisors in EU delegations.
Ministers may also touch on the issue of generating the necessary force elements to implement EU CSDP military mandates.
The discussion will feed into the upcoming strategic review of several EU missions and operation.
Defence ministers will discuss the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine, focusing on the military situation on the ground, the EU military assistance requested by Ukraine and developments concerning training and equipment.
In this context, the High Representative may touch on the prospects regarding the use of the European Peace Facility and the role of the Clearing House cell, which keeps track of the Ukrainian requests, their needs and member states’ offers to ensure maximum coordination and effectiveness of EU support, in coordination with NATO.
In the framework of this discussion, ministers will have an informal exchange views with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov (via VTC).
Ministers of defence will meet in the European Defence Agency Steering Board under the chairmanship of High Representative Borrell in his capacity as Head of the Agency.
Ministers will approve the establishment of a Hub for EU Defence Innovation (HEDI) within the agency. HEDI will strengthen the agency’s existing innovation activities but also initiate new ones, in close cooperation with member states and other EU stakeholders to ensure synergies and complementarity as well as coherence with NATO innovation initiatives. Three steps have been defined for the Hub to progressively grow and fulfil its role as a catalyst and amplifier of EU defence innovation: from promoting innovation at European level (through activities such as the organisation of a revamped Innovation Prize and a first European Defence Innovation Day on 31 May 2022) and coordinating innovation across member states and EU institutions (exchange of best practices, funding of proofs-of-concepts of innovative ideas, etc.) to becoming an EU-wide innovation platform for cooperative design and experimentation embedded in the EU capability development process. The work that led to the creation of HEDI started in May 2021 when the FAC called for reinforcing EDA’s role in fostering defence innovation, including disruptive technologies.
Ministers will also discuss the defence gaps analysis EDA has produced and transmitted to the European Commission as its contribution to the tasking given by the Heads of State or Government at their informal meeting in Versailles on 10-11 March. There, the leaders had “invited the Commission, in coordination with the European Defence Agency, to put forward an analysis of the defence investment gaps by mid-May and to propose any further initiative necessary to strengthen the European defence industrial and technological base”. EDA’s analysis is notably built on the “Invest” chapter of the Strategic Compass, the Capability Development Plan (CDP) and the detailed findings of the first Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) presented in November 2020.