Foreign Affairs Council

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Good afternoon,

Today, it is 5 years from the tragic events that took place in Brussels. We pay tribute to the victims of these events stressing that terrorism and extremism have no place in our societies.

We have had a long and intense Foreign Affairs Council, in which we took an important decision to promote and protect human rights around the world. 

The Council today decided to impose restrictive measures on eleven individuals and four entities responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses in various countries around the world. Together with the listing of four Russian individuals earlier this month, these 15 designations are part of the first broader package of listings under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. The sanctions signal the EU’s strong determination to stand up for human rights and to take tangible action against those responsible for violations and abuses.

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Good afternoon,

Before I start, let me make a short point on the sad news that reached us during the [Foreign Affairs] Council: the attack on the World Food Programme convoy in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Council today adopted conclusions on the EU’s priorities in UN human rights fora in 2021. The conclusions reaffirm the EU’s commitment to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, democracy and the rule of law and to stand united in support of the UN human rights system as a cornerstone of its external action.

The Council today approved conclusions reaffirming the EU’s commitment to human rights in the context of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council today adopted conclusions condemning the military coup carried out in Myanmar/Burma on 1 February 2021 in the strongest terms, and stressed that the EU stands with the Burmese people.

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Today we have a very important and a very busy Foreign Affairs Council ahead of us. There are so many items, let me make the list of items: First our relationship with Russia, the Iran nuclear deal, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Belarus, the Strategic Compass, Horn of Africa, Sahel, Southern neighbourhood.

And a very important issue is that we are going to have a meeting with our colleague, the new Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken. That will be an occasion to enhance the importance of our renewed transatlantic relations.

In today’s world marked by major geopolitical and economic power shifts, multilateralism is the most effective mean to govern global relations in a way that benefits all. Growing global challenges, such as COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, conflicts and extreme poverty in many parts of the world, make all too evident the need for multilateral cooperation grounded on basic principles of international law and universal values.
In light of these challenges and opportunities, the European Commission and the High Representative are putting forward a set of policy proposals for a new multilateral agenda to deliver for all in today’s complex world.

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Today, the Commission and the High Representative put forward a new strategy to strengthen the EU's contribution to rules-based multilateralism. The Joint Communication lays out the EU's expectations of and ambitions for the multilateral system. Today's proposal suggests to make use of all tools at the EU's disposal, including its extensive political, diplomatic and financial support to promote global peace and security, defend human rights and international law, and to promote multilateral solutions to global challenges.

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Our world is in a period of transition, marked by major geopolitical and economic power shifts. Emerging players are creating new dynamics. Relations between major powers are increasingly confrontational and unilateralist. Competing visions and agendas on the global order are at play, which challenge established multilateral rules and organisations. Yet growing global challenges call for more multilateral governance and rules-based international cooperation.

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