In partnership with women: empowerment through action
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.