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EU foreign ministers: « transatlantic unity remains essential »

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On the Foreign Affairs Council meeting ( 18 March 2024) foreign ministers of the EU member countries held an informal exchange of views with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, via videoconference, with a focus on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East, the approach towards China and the Indo-Pacific.

Participants concurred that transatlantic unity remains essential to deal with current challenges and, more specifically, urgent action is needed both as far as Ukraine is concerned, and in the Middle East, notably for pushing a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine based on the two state solution.

During this meeting, the Council adopted a decision allocating €5 billion under the European Peace Facility to the military support for Ukraine. The new dedicated Ukraine Assistance Fund will add predictability to the EU’s military support and will remain guided primarily by the needs of Ukraine.

EU ministers also agreed to quickly finalise sanctions against those responsible for the murder of Alexei Navalny under the EU’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. The Council then discussed the possible use of the extraordinary revenues generated from Russian assets immobilised in the EU because of sanctions.

« After the discussion I have seen that there is a strong support to take the revenues, the windfall profits, and use them to support Ukraine. How? Militarily, to enhance the resources of the European Peace Facility and also to support the development of the Ukrainian defence industry. I am going to table this proposal for a Council decision and work with the Commission to approve a Council regulation in order for member states to discuss a concrete proposal, before the European Council.” -Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said.

The Council exchanged views on the Russian presidential elections that took place from 15 to 17 March in a highly restricted environment, with voters having been deprived of a real choice and facing systematic internal repression. In the EU 27 statement issued right before the Council, the EU condemned the illegal holding of so-called ‘elections’ in the territories of Ukraine that Russia has temporarily occupied.

The Foreign Affairs Council then discussed the situation in the Middle East, and in particular in the Gaza strip. Ministers discussed the ever-worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip, where the vast majority of the population is at risk of starvation according to a recent World Food Programme report.

The Council also touched on the Cyprus initiative for a humanitarian sea route. The High Representative stressed that the Cyprus Maritime Route needs to be developed, but also that Israel needs to ensure that more land routes are available and that additional crossings are opened.

The Council also had an exchange of views on the EU-Israel Association Agreement. This agreement is explicitly based on values shared by the EU and Israel such as respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

Ministers looked forward to further engaging with Israel to discuss the situation in Gaza, and some of them suggested inviting the Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel and the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority to a future Council meeting.

EU Briefs publie des articles provenant de diverses sources extérieures qui expriment un large éventail de points de vue. Les positions prises dans ces articles ne sont pas nécessairement celles d'EU Briefs.

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