Uutinen 23.5.2008

EU Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Ministers to meet in Brussels

Government Communications Unit
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Defense

Press Release 152/2008
23 May 2008

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet on 26 and 27 May in Brussels. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen and Minister of Defence Jyri Häkämies will represent Finland at the GAERC meeting.

The current Presidency country, Slovenia, will present its proposal for the agenda of the European Council meeting which will take place on 19 and 20 June. The June European Council is to discuss the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, Justice and Home Affairs, high food prices and external relations.

Finland considers it important that the preparations for the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty proceed rapidly as the reforms should enter into force on 1 January 2009. Therefore, Finland supports the Presidency country’s intention to observe the progress achieved so far. It is also important that the European Council discuss the effects of rising food prices on various policy sectors, such as the development policy and the Common Agricultural Policy.

The EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the situation in Serbia in the light of the parliamentary and local elections held on 11 May. The Foreign Ministers will also discuss the situation in Kosovo and a European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX Kosovo.

The meeting will consider the situation in Georgia after the parliamentary election which took place on 21 May. Finland will present to the meeting its actions as the Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE.

The joint meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers will discuss Afghanistan and the role of children in armed conflicts. Finland is in favour of strengthening the EU’s civil crisis management operation, EUPOL, in Afghanistan. The intention is also to adopt conclusions on the European Security and Defence Policy.

The Council is also to announce its position on the state of play in the WTO Doha round and, in particular, on the new negotiation proposals concerning agriculture and industrial products. The aim is also to adopt the long-prepared negotiating mandate for a new framework agreement between the EU and Russia. Other key topics include the European Neighbourhood Policy, Zimbabwe and Somalia. With regard to the Middle East, discussion will particularly focus on the situation in Gaza and Lebanon.

The EU Defence Ministers will meet in connection with the Council meeting. The Ministers will discuss the EU’s military operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chad and the Central African Republic and receive an overview of the operations in Africa which support the EU’s security sector reform. The Defence Ministers will also discuss the EU’s battle groups and the activities of the European Defence Agency. Over working lunch, discussion will focus on the Union’s cooperation with Nato and the UN.

The steering board of the European Defence Agency will also hold a defence-minister-level meeting as part of the Council. The meeting will discuss the creation of a three-year financial framework and European-level cooperation in issues concerning helicopters. There will also be a presentation of sectoral progress achieved in the agency’s long-term strategy work.

The Development Ministers will discuss, on the basis of a Commission communication, ways to achieve faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and prepare the EU’s positions for international development conferences to be held later on this year. In addition to the Millennium Goals, discussion will focus on the achieved results, development financing, aid for trade and the consistency of development policies.

Children’s rights will also be on the Development Ministers’ agenda. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides the overall framework. The EU’s objective is, in its external action, to promote and protect the rights of the child with all available measures. The ministers will also discuss the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) under the Cotonou Agreement which the EU is currently negotiating with the ACP countries. The EPAs are to replace the existing trade arrangements.

Other development policy issues include women in armed conflicts, the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, food security and the situation in Burma/Myanmar.

Further information: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for EU Affairs, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2180 (general affairs); Anne Huhtamäki, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6097 (external relations); Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6272 (development policy); Mari Eteläpää, Head of Unit, Ministry of Defence, tel. +358 9 1608 8135 (defence issues)