On Monday (15 May), Minister of State Michael Roth attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. Deliberations focused on the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa and EU relations with Africa. The Foreign Ministers also discussed ways to strengthen the Common Security and Defence Policy.
Africa: creating prospects for the young generation
Roth stressed how important it was that Germany was making available 140 million euros to help fight starvation in the Horn of Africa. However, he emphasised that this amount was not enough and that support from the EU needed to be increased. He said that as well as tackling the food crisis, the aim was to improve security and stability in many African countries in the long term. He added that to achieve this it was crucial to create prospects for young people in their homelands, and that transit countries also needed more support in dealing with migration flows.
In view of the threat of famine in the Horn of Africa, Roth went on to say that the EU had reiterated its awareness of the responsibility it shared for peace and stability on the African continent. For this reason, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the new Chair of the African Union Commission, was a guest at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
Strengthening the EU’s Global Strategy for security and defence
The Council also discussed how the EU can respond more effectively to crisis situations. Roth said that rapid implementation of the joint decision to establish an EU command centre for military training missions was a priority, but added that this also needed to go hand in hand with bolstering civilian crisis mechanisms.
Easing of visa requirements: the EU stands by its commitments
As well as support for Africa, the Eastern Partnership was on the agenda. In this context, Minister of State Roth reminded participants of the recent decision to ease visa requirements for citizens of Ukraine. This will allow Ukrainian citizens to travel to the Schengen area for up to 90 days without a visa. He underlined the fact that this step showed that the EU stood by its commitments when the Eastern European countries worked to promote democracy and the rule of law.
Roth said that in the case of Ukraine, reforms had been shown to have brought “tangible benefits” for the population. The easing of visa requirements was preceded by progress in fighting corruption and promoting the rule of law, in the education system and in administration.