I attended a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels yesterday, Monday 9 December. The meeting was chaired by the newly-appointed High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Mr. Josep Borrell.
Under current affairs, Ministers discussed the agenda for the forthcoming European Council, Libya and Hong Kong. Ministers also touched on the Arctic, DRC, Bolivia, Moldova and Transdniestria. Under AOB, I briefed my counterparts on my recent visit to Israel and Palestine which took place from 2 to 4 December.
EU Foreign Ministers discussed the following topics: EU-Africa relations, prior to the forthcoming EU-African Union Ministerial; and Promoting and protecting human rights in the world, particularly in view of Human Rights Day on 10 December. On the former, I intervened highlighting Ireland’s newly launched Africa Strategy and encouraged a more integrated and coordinated approach to the continent. Ministers agreed that we must engage early, often and in a coherent manner with our African partners and focus on the root causes of problems.
On human rights, I noted Ireland’s intention to lead on the civil society space resolution in the Human Rights Council and reiterated Ireland’s support for a proposed EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. The HR/VP tasked the EEAS to take forward work this proposed sanctions regime. There was strong consensus to adopt a visible and joined up action plan on human rights and democracy for 2020-2024.
We also exchanged views with the High Representative/Vice President over lunch on his priorities and vision for his term in office. As well as meeting HR/VP Borrell at the FAC, I have also met with him many times in his previous role as Spanish Foreign Minister and also had the opportunity to talk with him in his new capacity as HR/VP on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial meeting in Bratislava on 5 December.