Ukraine, Horn of Africa, Iran & QMV – Foreign Minister Baerbock at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in May

Justus-Lipsius-Building in Brussels

Justus-Lipsius-Building in Brussels, © Thomas Trutschel

19.05.2023 - Article

The EU Foreign Ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday (22 May). Topics of discussion will include additional support for Ukraine, the eighth package of sanctions against Iran and the situation in the Horn of Africa and in the Western Balkans. Find out more about which issues are on the agenda.

The first issue on the packed agenda is how the EU can become more capable of action at the international level. The fact that all decisions on foreign and security policy need to be approved by all 27 member states can sometimes be an obstacle. Germany wants to change this. Foreign Minister Baerbock will therefore be hosting a working breakfast of the Group of Friends in favour of expanding qualified majority voting – QMV for short – which was set up together with eight other EU member states. The members of the group will share ideas and discuss suggestions together with all interested EU member states on how to improve decision-making processes on the basis of existing EU treaties.

Additional support for Ukraine

The Foreign Ministers will then go on to discuss how to provide further support to Ukraine in light of Russia’s war of aggression. The discussion will focus in particular on additional financial assistance for Ukraine through the European Peace Facility. The prosecution under international criminal law of the crime of aggression committed by the Russian leadership will also be on the agenda, and the Foreign Ministers will also discuss the establishment of an internationalised court. At the same time, the EU is preparing the next – the eleventh – package of sanctions against Russia, which is to be adopted in the near future. This will enable the EU to further increase the pressure on Russia and the Russian leadership to end the illegal attack against Ukraine.

Horn of Africa

The situation in the Horn of Africa continues to be of concern to the Foreign Ministers. A little over a month after the outbreak of fighting, the Sudan remains a focus of their consultations. The main focus is creating a resilient and long-term ceasefire agreement that ensures the protection of civilians as well as establishing a humanitarian corridor to enable people to leave conflict areas and be supplied with the most essential food and medical supplies. In addition to the Sudan, the discussion will focus on the recent encouraging developments in the peace process in Ethiopia and on the situation in Somalia.

Eighth package of sanctions against Iran

The people of Iran are courageously pursuing their dream of freedom and self-determination, despite all attempts at repression by the Iranian regime. The EU stands firmly by their side. The 27 Foreign Ministers will adopt an eighth package of sanctions. The new listings within the framework of the existing EU sanctions regime to protect human rights are intended to target, in particular, sections of the justice and security apparatus as well as two organisations affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the Western Balkan countries

At noon, the Foreign Ministers of the six Western Balkan countries will attend an informal working lunch hosted by Josep Borrell. A particular focus will be on issues related to the EU accession process as well as the urgently needed implementation of agreed steps towards normalising the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia.

Virtual class trip

Furthermore, Foreign Minister Baerbock will be joined today by unusual “travel companions”. As part of the Federal Government’s EU Project Day 2023, the Foreign Minister will be accompanied virtually to Brussels by pupils from Class 9b at Schillerschule in the Berlin district of Wedding.


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