Thursday

18th Apr 2019

EU reforms to feature at 'jumbo' ministers meeting

  • Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt will chair the meeting of foreign ministers. (Photo: Council of European Union)

Almost one hundred EU ministers will gather in Brussels on Monday (16 November) and Tuesday for a 'jumbo-council' on foreign affairs, defence and development, where corridor discussions are likely to focus on the EU's top jobs and the institutional changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty.

"This is one of those meetings when you run around trying to figure out what room each of the ministers should be in," an EU diplomat told journalists on Friday under condition of anonymity.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The high density of European ministers and diplomats is a clear recipe for speculation on who will make up the short-list for the bloc's future top posts, to be decided by the 27 EU leaders on Thursday night.

One visibly absent figure on Monday will be British foreign secretary David Miliband, who was previously seen as a strong contender for the post of EU foreign policy chief, but has recently said he is not interested.

Defence ministers will at a special event mark 10 years of the EU's security and defence policy, amid concerns that the EU's future diplomatic service should include enough experienced military personnel in its joint civilian-military strategic planning unit.

The military chiefs are set to review the EU's 12 ongoing field operations and renew calls for more efficient defence spending and pooling of military resources, with a keynote briefing by the chief of the bloc's defence agency, Alexander Weis.

A joint meeting of foreign and defence ministers on Monday, where Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is to speak, will officially be dominated by Afghanistan.

Mr Rasmussen is expected to call for more EU police trainers for the Afghan security forces.

But he is also likely to call for an end to the political deadlock between Greece and Turkey over the island of Cyprus, which is having a concrete impact on military co-operation between the EU and Nato. Mr Rasmussen will likely mention the need for more "imagination and flexibility" to resolve the Cyprus issue, Nato sources told EUobserver.

Meanwhile, non-Nato countries, which are major contributors to the mission in Afghanistan, such as Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, are to be drawn more deeply into the decision-making process.

The debate will take place in the context of remarks by Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, who told The Times of London over the weekend that when the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, the EU should look to create its own army.

"Every country duplicates its forces, each of us puts armoured cars, men, tanks, planes, into Afghanistan. If there were a European army, Italy could send planes, France could send tanks, Britain could send armoured cars, and in this way we would optimise the use of our resources," he said.

A joint gathering of EU development and foreign ministers on Tuesday will also look at Afghanistan, examining how to help build democracy following the recent presidential elections, with the UN's special envoy on the country, Kai Eide, to attend the Brussels event.

Belarusian progress

With the EU-Russia summit coming up on Wednesday, foreign ministers are likely to have a "strategic" discussion about their big neighbour and main gas supplier.

Meanwhile, EU-Belarussian relations will get a timid boost – with foreign ministers asking the commission to start "exploratory talks" on a new agreement with Minsk and to again suspend a travel ban on leaders from the former Soviet republic.

A gathering of Belarussian opposition figures in Minsk on Saturday called for closer ties with the European Union, while former Czech president Vaclav Havel sent them a video message saying he was "sure that sooner or later we will welcome our Belarussian friends into the EU."

Top candidate debates EU tax at elite dinner

Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, a top candidate for the new European Union president job, laid out his views on future EU financing at a dinner of the secretive Bilderberg group last week.

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

The secretive decision-making process to decide the future top jobs in the EU is to reach a climax at a special European summit on Thursday.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us