Meeting: Foreign Affairs Council, 16-17 November 2015

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details 16-17.11.15
Publication Date 16/11/2015
Content Type

Foreign Affairs, 16 November 2015
At the very start of the meeting, the High Representative referred to the Paris attacks, which took place after terrorist attacks in Beirut, against Russian civilians on the plane in Egypt, and in Iraq and in Syria every day.

Ministers observed a minute of silence at 12.00 in memory of the victims.

Ministers had a discussion on Syria, together with the UN Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura. They discussed the latest developments covering the recent diplomatic efforts, including the discussions in Vienna on 30 October and 14 November 2015.

The High Representative underlined that finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict would offer the best conditions for defeating Daesh. She reported that the sense of urgency, especially for Europe, was felt and understood very clearly by all around the table in Vienna. She also underlined that an ambitious timetable had been set.

The EU stands ready to continue contributing:

+ at the humanitarian level, through ongoing projects - the EU is the leading humanitarian contributor in response to the Syrian crisis.
+ at the political level, notably by working to bring the opposition groups to the table and also to start the political transition in Syria.

The Council discussed migration, following up on the High Level Conference on the Western Balkans route on 8 October and on the Valletta Summit on migration held on 11-12 November 2015. Ministers discussed follow-up of the decisions already taken on the central Mediterranean route and on the Western Balkan route. They welcomed the frank discussions with African partners in Valletta. On the Western Balkans and eastern route they discussed cooperation with Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which has multiple dimensions, going well beyond the issue of refugees and management of refugee flows and borders.

Middle East Peace Process
The Council discussed the situation in the Middle East, focusing on the peace process, in the light of increased violence notably in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The EU is ready to continue its engagement to facilitate the revival of a credible political process. The High representative will continue to work with both parties, as well as with regional and international partners, both within the Quartet and through her bilateral contacts.

Foreign Affairs - Defence, 17 November 2015

Defence ministers discussed the reaction to the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015. French President François Hollande has invoked article 42§7 of the Treaty of the European Union, requesting bilateral aid and assistance from the other EU member states. Ministers expressed their unanimous and full support to France and their readiness to provide all the necessary aid and assistance.

Capacity building for security and development
Ministers discussed efforts to help partner countries prevent and manage crises. They were joined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who underlined that while both the EU and NATO were doing a lot for capacity building, more needed to be done. All member states supported this view: Increasing capabilities in partner countries is the best way to create stability and diminish the need for crisis management intervention.

The High Representative concluded the debate indicating that the EU will address these questions in the coming months by:

+ starting to implement pilot projects in a few partner countries, including Mali, Central African Republic and Somalia;
+ working on the different possible financial instruments, including within the African Peace Facility and a possible future dedicated instrument.

CSDP operations
Ministers, joined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, discussed operations, in particular:

+ EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia, the EU's military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean;
+ EUMAM RCA, the EU's military advisory mission in the Central African Republic.

Ministers were told that operation Sophia has so far resulted in the handover of 42 smugglers to the Italian authorities and saved the lives of about 5400 migrants.

The Council adopted conclusions on the Central African Republic.A meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council took place on 16-17 November 2015. The following topics were discussed:

+ The situation in Syria and the talks held in Vienna towards a political solution to the conflict;

+ Follow up to the Valletta Summit on migration;

+ Middle East peace process (MEPP) - EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy reported on her recent meetings with the Prime Minister of Israel and the Palestinian President;

+ Eastern Partnership;

+ Format of the European Defence Agency's steering board;

+ European Defence Action Plan;

+ EU Operations (EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia and EUMAM RCA).

Defence ministers discussed the reaction to the Paris terrorist attacks of 13 November 2015 on the 17 November 2015. French President François Hollande had invoked article 42.7 of the Treaty of the European Union, requesting bilateral aid and assistance from the other EU member states. Ministers expressed their unanimous and full support to France and their readiness to provide all the necessary aid and assistance.

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