In partnership with women: empowerment through action
In response to the tragic loss of lives following the downing of Malaysians Airlines flight MH17 and in view of Russia's continuous actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine the EU decided on a strong package of new restrictive measures. For the first time the new measures taken include targeted economic sanctions as well as an arms embargo and a ban on trade in dual use goods for military end users.
This year's EU-ASEAN foreign ministers marked the 20th anniversary of ministerial meetings. It was a special occasion as ministers agreed to upgrade the relationship to a strategic partnership. This is testament to the growing depth of their cooperation and demonstrates the increasing importance the EU attaches to relations with partners in Asia.
The monthly meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 22 July was dominated by the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 and the crisis in Gaza. High Representative Catherine Ashton, who chaired the meeting, demanded separatist groups allow full access to the area in Eastern Ukraine and called for an independent international investigation. Ministers observed a minute of silence to pay tribute to the victims. On the crisis in Gaza, Ministers condemned the rising death toll and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
Daily headlines in South East Asia speak about the region's impressive economic achievements. More and more they also focus on security tensions, including those in the South China Sea. The EU supports ASEAN in the twin challenge of integrating the region's economies and addressing growing security threats. That’s why on 23 July Foreign Ministers from 28 EU and 10 ASEAN Member States will gather in Brussels to discuss how the EU-ASEAN partnership can best deliver shared security and sustainable prosperity for their peoples.
The events of 15 December 2013 and beyond, which precipitated South Sudan into armed conflict only two and a half years after independence, have drastically changed the prospects for the newest world country.
Following the European elections of last May, 751 Members of the European Parliament coming from 186 different national parties reunited in seven European political groups held their first plenary session this week (1-3 July) in Strasbourg.
EU leaders expressed their support for the peace plan announced last week by Ukrainian President Poroshenko. At their European Council meeting in Brussels they called on all parties to commit to the implementation of the plan and to cement the cessation of the military activities in Ukraine.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova took a big step toward closer ties with the EU as they signed Association Agreements with the EU on 27 June. This is a symbolic moment for all three countries.
The monthly meeting of all 28 Foreign Ministers of EU members took place against a backdrop of continuing violence in Ukraine and Iraq in crisis. The meeting, which is chaired by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, endorsed the Ukrainian President's peace plan and heard from its new Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. They also discussed the latest developments in Iraq with UN Special Representative Nikolay Mladenov.
Around the globe – from Afghanistan to Senegal- the European Union (EU) deploys election observation teams to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These values are at the core of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Sexual violence destroys individuals, families and communities. It is one of the most serious forms of human rights abuse, exacerbates conflict and stands in the way of reconciliation and international peace and security. The majority of crimes go unpunished.
Foreign ministers of the EU and the League of Arab States came together on 11 June to discuss important global issues such as the security situation in Iraq , the plight of Syrian refuges and peace in the Middle East.
The G7 Brussels summit took place on 4-5 June and was hosted by the European Union. Over dinner the G7 leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and welcomed Petro Poroshenko’s election as President. They also spoke about relations with Russia. The leaders denounced the sham presidential election in Syria and debated the situation in Iran, Libya , Mali and the Central African Republic among other issues.
EU leaders welcome the holding of the elections on 25 May as an expression of the will of the Ukrainian people. The EU focuses its efforts on de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine. It supports an inclusive dialogue and the protection of the unity and territorial integrity of the country to ensure a stable, prosperous and democratic future for Ukraine's citizens. To help Ukraine in this effort, the EU has stepped-up its support for Ukraine's economic and political reforms.
EU High Representative travelled to the Republic of Korea on 23 May. In Seoul she held meetings with the President and Foreign Minister. To consolidate the Strategic Partnership she also signed a new agreement on deeper cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy.
The EU’s maritime capacity building mission in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean, EUCAP Nestor, celebrated together with its Somali and Djiboutian partners the successful completion of the first basic training provided to 20 members of Galmudug Coast Guard and 30 members of Bosaso Port Police.
The European Union and INTERPOL hosted in Brussels a two day high level workshop in order to express their joint commitment to supressing maritime crime in all its forms.
The EU strongly supports the holding of free and fair presidential elections in Ukraine on 25 May, to allow the Ukrainian people to choose their own future. On 12 May EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to step up measures in support of Ukraine, including a possible civilian CSDP mission. They also expanded sanctions against those undermining Ukraine's sovereignty. The EU will not recognise the illegal and illegitimate "referendum" of 11 May or any future so called "referenda". A day later the European COmission also met with the Ukrainian government to decide on a support package for the country.
The crisis in Ukraine dominated the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on Monday 12 May at the monthly Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. Ministers reiterated their strong support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the holding of Presidential elections on 25 May. They also said the EU would not recognise any illegitimate and illegal "referenda" and condemned efforts to destabilise the country. Ministers also deplored the recent abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram and High Representative Catherine Ashton pledged practical financial assistance to help any rescue efforts.
The Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia (CGPCS) will hold its Sixteenth Plenary Session at the UN Headquarters in New York on 14 May 2014, under the Chairmanship of the European Union. The meeting will focus on three major policy areas: (i) capacity building in the region off the coast of Somalia; (ii) the anti-piracy operations and mitigation actions by the international community; (iii) the disruption of piracy networks ashore.
On 29 April 2014, Cuba and the EU opened negotiations on a bilateral agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation, in Havana. The start of the negotiations represents an important step towards a strengthened relationship which will continue to focus on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The crisis in Ukraine dominated discussions by EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on 14 April at the Foreign Affairs Council. The monthly meeting, which is chaired by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, also discussed Syria and Bosnia and Herzegovina among several issues. In a joint statement, Ministers condemned actions undertaken by armed individuals in cities of Eastern Ukraine and said that attempts at destabilising Ukraine must come to an end. The Council also decided to expand the list of those subject to asset freeze and visa ban.
The 4th EU-Africa Summit brought together more than 60 EU and African leaders, and a total of 90 delegations, to discuss the future of EU-Africa relations and reinforce links between the two continents.
In a wide-ranging speech on EU foreign & security policy to the European Parliament on 3 April 2014 Catherine Ashton reflected on her time as High Representative: "Looking back four years ago I set three priorities: establish a European External Action Service; focus on the Neighbourhood – both South and East; and focus on our Strategic Partnerships."
The fifth EU-US Energy Council met in Brussels on 2 April, chaired by EU High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton, EU Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. It addressed the urgent need to tackle global energy and climate challenges and to promote transparent and secure global energy markets. The Council also fosters cooperation on sustainable and clean energy technologies that boost economic growth and jobs and enhance energy security.
President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China visited the European Union in Brussels from 31st March to 1st April 2014 at the invitation of the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. This historic first visit by the Chinese President to the European Union marked a significant strengthening of bilateral ties over the last 40 years and underlined the leaders determination to strengthen the global dimension of their cooperation.
Europe and Africa are neighbours: continents bound together by a shared history, culture, geography, and by the close exchanges between our peoples. Cooperation between the European Union and Africa has reflected the rich and diverse nature of relations between the two continents.
On 27 March 2014, Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Head of the European Defence Agency gave her key note address at the EDA Annual Conference. The speech emphasised Europe's commitment to support Ukraine and stressed the importance of European defence cooperation in the light of new threats and budget constraints. The European Defence Agency was created ten years ago to support and enhance cooperation in the field of defence. EDA is proving an important catalyst to Pooling & Sharing defence and security capabilities. During the conference around 600 frontline actors of defence cooperation as well as leaders from the military, politics and industry engaged in highly interactive panel debates that ranged from Pooling and Sharing as well as Research & Innovation to maintain Europe's technological edge.
EU and US leaders met on Wednesday 26 March in Brussels for their regular summit. President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, welcomed US President Barack Obama for his first presidential visit to Brussels and the EU institutions. The presidents were assisted by the EU's High Representative, Catherine Ashton, and EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, as well as Susan Rice, Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs, and US Trade Representative Michael Froman. The summit took place at a pivotal moment for peace and security on the European continent and addressed EU-US cooperation on pressing issues, such as Ukraine as well as global challenges including energy security, cyber and climate change.
The EU's annual communication and reports on the implementation of its Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), released on March 27, show a mixed picture. Although 2013 has been a year of crises in some of its partner countries, reflecting political instability and difficult socio-economic conditions, the EU has continued to support efforts to enhance democratic governance, build security and support sustainable and inclusive development.
EU and US leaders will meet on Wednesday 26 March in Brussels for their regular summit. The European Union will be represented by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso assisted by High Representative Catherine Ashton and Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. They will welcome US President Barack Obama assisted by Secretary of State John Kerry and US Trade Representative Michael Froman.
High Representative Catherine Ashton visited Tehran on 8 and 9 March, 2014. She met President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali-Akbar Velayati, and Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security Ali Shamkhani.
Originally called International Working Women's Day, 8 March started as a Socialist political event. International Women's Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women's rights and world peace.
EU Heads of State or Government held an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. At the start of the meeting they heard from Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk. Leaders endorsed the conclusions adopted earlier in the week by Foreign Ministers.
On 23 February, an official ceremony inaugurated the first “Train the Trainers” course, planned and organized by the EU's military training mission for Somalia (EUTM Somalia), at the Jazeera Training Camp in Mogadishu. EUTM Somalia's new Mission Commander, Brigadier General Massimo Mingiardi, was joined on this occasion by Somalia's Deputy Minister for Defence, Abdallah Hussein Ali.
On February 19th, EUBAM Libya attended a graduation ceremony for over 1,000 customs recruits at the Customs Training Centre in Tripoli.
The Informal Meeting of EU Defence Ministers will take place in Athens on 20-21 February. It will be chaired by Greek Minister of National Defence Dimitris Avramopoulos on behalf of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.
Following the previous summits held in Cairo, Lisbon and Tripoli, the fourth EU-Africa summit will take place in Brussels, Belgium, on 2-3 April under the theme "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace".
In a wide-ranging statement to the UN Security Council in New York on 14 February 2014, High Representative Catherine Ashton spoke about ways in which the EU was working with the UN. She reiterated the "strong commitment of the European Union to support and work for effective multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core, in search of lasting solutions to critical international peace and security challenges."
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano met with the HR/VP in Munich in the margins of the Munich Security Conference.
Eastern Partnership was the first topic of discussion at the Meeting of the Council of the European Union in Brussels on 10 February. EU Foreign Ministers focused in particular on the situation in Ukraine and High Representative/Vice-President Ashton debriefed them on her visit to Kyiv of the previous week.
The political crisis in Ukraine, support for reform in Cuba and a new EU military operation to support the troubled Central African Republic were discussed by EU Foreign Ministers on Monday 10 February.
The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) met yesterday under the Chairmanship of the European Union to discuss its future engagement and organisation at the EU Institute for Security Studies, in Paris.
On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day High Representative Catherine Ashton stated " Today the international community remembers the victims of the Holocaust. We honour every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history. We also want to pay a special tribute to all those who acted with courage and sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens against persecution.
On 22 January, Syria's government and opposition met for the first time in three years at a U.N. peace conference in Switzerland, along with delegates from international and regional powers. High Representative Catherine Ashton participated in the ‘Geneva 2’ Peace Conference, reiterating the EU's longstanding position of support to the peace process that should lead to a political solution to the conflict.
The European Union's foreign and security policy took several important steps Monday as EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to suspend certain sanctions against Iran and fully support a peace conference on the civil war in Syria this week. The meeting, which was chaired by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, also agreed that the EU would launch a security and defence operation in the Central African Republic for a duration of six months.
Beyond the suffering of the South Sudanese people, this crisis risks affecting a much wider region already prone to instability (Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Horn). We remain strongly committed to supporting regional and international efforts to end the violence, and continue to call for a negotiated solution that will allow South Sudan’s leaders to resolve their differences peacefully and democratically.