EU-Belarus Coordination Group met for the second time (18/11/2016)

Minsk, 18 November 2016

The EU-Belarus Coordination Group met in Minsk on 16-17 November 2016, following an initial meeting in April 2016. The European Union delegation was led by Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service, and included representatives of the European External Action Service and the Directorates-General of the European Commission responsible for the European Neighborhood Policy, economy and finance, trade, environment, research and innovation, as well as health and food safety. The Belarusian side was led by Ms Alena Kupchyna, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and included representatives of other ministries as well. Experts and non-governmental organizations from Belarus also took part in the talks.

The EU delegation was also received by Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei as well as Mr Nikolai Snopkov, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration.

In all its meetings, the EU delegation recalled that tangible steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and human rights, including the abolition of the death penalty, will remain key for the shaping of the EU's future policy towards Belarus.

In the course of the EU-Belarus Coordination Group meeting, a broad list of subjects including mobility, people to people contacts, trade, customs, transport, environment, energy, research, education, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards, agriculture and social security were discussed. Both sides exchanged views on developments in the region. A specific session was dedicated to human rights and political freedoms.

The EU delegation presented a proposal for Partnership Priorities with a special focus on governance and strengthening institutions; economic development and market opportunities; connectivity and energy efficiency; and mobility and people to people contacts, in line with the priorities agreed by all partners at the 2015 Riga Summit.

In keeping with the EU’s policy of cooperation and involvement of civil society, the EU delegation encouraged the authorities to consult widely with all stakeholders, and met separately with Belarusian human rights defenders and civil society representatives.