Africa, human rights top EU foreign ministers′ list | News | DW | 09.12.2019
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Africa, human rights top EU foreign ministers' list

Top diplomats from the European Union's member states have begun discussing the bloc's foreign policy aims under its new leadership. The EU must "speak more the language of power," top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said.

Foreign ministers from the European Union's member states met on Monday in Brussels, the first gathering under the leadership of the bloc's new chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, to discuss current international developments and review the EU's foreign policy.

Borrell (above, in center), who previously served as Spain's foreign minister, assumed the role of High Representative from Federica Mogherini at the beginning of December, when a new European Commission — the bloc's executive arm — took office. In a letter to the convening foreign ministers, Borrell called for the EU assert itself globally.

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"We must collectively speak the language of our interests and of our values … We need to speak more the language of power, not to conquer but to contribute to a more peaceful, prosperous and just world," he wrote, echoing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Malta's Carmelo Abela, Lithuania's Linas Linkevicius and Germany's Heiko Maas in Brussels (Reuters/J. Geron)

EU foreign ministers aren't always serious faced: Malta's Carmelo Abela, Lithuania's Linas Linkevicius and Germany's Heiko Maas (L to R) in Brussels

The ministers arrived in the morning, with the Foreign Affairs Council session starting at 10 a.m. local time (0900 UTC).

The two main topics of discussion are:

EU-Africa relations: The newly appointed von der Leyen has called for closer cooperation with Africa in order to tackle security and migration. In addition to these topics, the ministers' discussion will focus on the political and economic situation across Africa, as well as climate change and digitalization. Talks are partially in preparation for the 6th EU-African Union summit, which will take place before the end of 2020.

Human rights: The EU ministers will focus on the bloc's protection and promotion of human rights. This includes examining the tools at the EU's disposal and the ways the bloc can enhance its image as a global backer of human rights. Ministers may also discuss a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, which sets out EU priorities in these areas for the duration of the current Commission's term, set to last until 2024.

Other possible topics for discussion include:

Global political developments: Ministers are expected to talk about the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, now in their sixth month. They will also likely discuss the political instability in Bolivia, where an interim government has called for new elections following the resignation of former President Evo Morales over alleged vote fraud.

Iran nuclear deal: The EU was one of the backers of the officially titled Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that aimed to curb Iran's nuclear abilities. Following the US withdrawal from the pact in 2018, the EU has been trying to salvage the deal while reacting to threats of US sanctions.

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