Today the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states are meeting in Brussels for what will be no less than the 15th Foreign Affairs Council this year. Council meetings have been much more frequent this year than in normal years – a clear indication of the particularly close coordination within the EU in this year of crisis.
Again it is the situation in eastern Europe that will determine the agenda of this final formal Foreign Affairs Council of the year. The Foreign Ministers will start by meeting their colleagues from the countries of the Eastern Partnership, the first time they have done so since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership provides a forum for the EU to intensify its political, economic, cultural and societal relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The membership of Belarus has been suspended since 2021. With the confirmation of the prospect of accession to the EU for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in July 2022, the nature of the Eastern Partnership has changed. So today’s meeting will include a general exchange of views and a discussion of the future shape of the Eastern Partnership.
Support for Ukraine and ninth package of sanctions against Russia
Russian attacks on Ukraine’s electricity and water supply infrastructure continue unabated. As well as discussing the current situation, therefore, the Foreign Ministers want to take initial stock of the winter relief already provided for Ukraine and discuss further assistance. As part of this, it is intended to increase the funding of the European Peace Facility, which is being used among other things to support the Ukrainian armed forces, by €5.5 bn by 2027. The Ministers will also discuss what is already the ninth package of sanctions to be imposed against Russia since 24 February. Just under 200 people and companies are to be listed, with the aim of hitting in particular those who are responsible for the attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
New sanctions and Council Conclusions on Iran
The Iranian regime continues to engage in acts of great brutality against its own people. In response, the Foreign Ministers plan to adopt two sanctions packages, which Germany has been instrumental in shaping, that aim among other things to list high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Guard and other security and police authorities. In addition, new Council Conclusions – the first since 2019 – are to reflect the new reality in relations with Iran.
Other topical issues
The Foreign Ministers will also look at relations with the Southern Neighbourhood, as well as at the current situation in Moldova and the question of how further to support the country in the current crisis. Furthermore, in the light of Human Rights Day on 10 December, they will discuss the current global human rights situation.