Foreign Affairs Council, 10/12/2018


The Council discussed Iran. Ministers focused on the implementation of the JCPoA, including ongoing EU efforts to preserve effective financial channels to Iran and to pursue legitimate trade relations against the background of the re-imposition of US sanctions on 5 November 2018. They also discussed concerns over recent behaviour by Iranian actors on European soil, Iran’s ballistic missiles programme and other regional security aspects.

There was a consensus among the member states on the need to keep our overall policy with Iran, starting from the strong interest we all have in keeping in place the JCPoA. The EU’s full support for the implementation of the JCPoA does not mean we turn a blind eye on other issues.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Western Balkans

Foreign ministers discussed the Western Balkans. Following a year of very intensive relations between the EU and the Western Balkans, ministers had an opportunity to take stock of the EU’s engagement and cooperation with the region. They reaffirmed the EU’s unequivocal commitment to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. They also recalled their expectations for the next steps in the region’s progress on its European path, in particular on rule of law and fight against corruption.

Ministers discussed the latest developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, following-up on their exchanges at the previous Foreign Affairs Council, and recalled the need to form governments on all levels and to engage in making progress on the reform agenda. They also highlighted the importance of supporting efforts to implement the Prespa agreement between Skopje and Athens. Ministers expressed their support for the EU’s strong focus on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. In this context, they also voiced their concerns over the Kosovo government decision to increase the tariffs tax on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzgovina to 100%, in clear violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.

The Azov Sea and Kerch Strait: the EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage in accordance with international laws


The Council discussed the latest developments in Ukraine. Foreign ministers recalled their utmost concern about the dangerous increase of tensions in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. They also reaffirmed that the EU does not recognise the “elections” of 11 November 2018 that it considers as illegal and illegitimate. The Council added nine persons involved in those so-called “elections” to the list of those subject to restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine

Over lunch, the High Representative and foreign ministers exchanged views with Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin. They focused on the latest developments in the Azov Sea and the security situation in Ukraine, as well as on possible EU support to assist the affected regions in south-east Ukraine.


The Council discussed the situation in Venezuela. The High Representative updated foreign ministers on the ongoing work on the possibility of establishing an international contact group which could, if conditions are met, help facilitate a political process. The Council also confirmed its firm stance on the targeted restrictive measures in place on Venezuela.

We Europeans believe that the absence of any political track could be a dangerous approach, and that sanctions should always be combined with a space for dialogue and engagement.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Foreign ministers also reiterated that the election on 20 May 2018 and its outcome lacked any credibility, as the electoral process did not ensure the necessary guarantees for inclusive and democratic elections. They agreed to have a common EU approach in view of the start of the second term of President Maduro on 10 January 2019.

The Council also recalled its commitment to supporting the population of Venezuela and, in neighbouring countries, to supporting the socio-economic inclusion of Venezuelans and the resilience of host communities. In this context, ministers welcome the additional €20 million to respond to the urgent needs of those affected by the socio-economic crisis in Venezuela allocated by the European Commission on 4 December 2018.

EU- African Union cooperation

Foreign ministers discussed EU – African Union (AU) cooperation in view of the first inter-Summit EU-AU ministerial meeting which will take place on 21-22 January 2019 in Brussels. The meeting will cover three main themes: political aspects (peace, security and governance), economic aspects (investment, trade and skills) and multilateralism (strengthening cooperation in support of a rule based global order).

Ministers expressed their clear interest in reinforcing the EU strategic partnership with Africa. They highlighted the importance of engaging with youth. They noted the progress already made on cooperation on peace, security and governance, including through the signing of an EU-AU memorandum of understanding on 23 May 2018. On migration and mobility, they highlighted the work done in the framework of the Joint Valletta action plan. Ministers also underlined the crucial role of the private sector and private investment to boost EU-Africa relations. They welcomed the proposed new Africa-Europe alliance on sustainable investments and jobs.