Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, took part in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union on July 12 in Brussels.
This meeting provided an opportunity for the ministers to reaffirm the need to strengthen EU sovereignty, notably in the context of the work on the “Strategic Compass,” a document that will help consolidate European strategic culture and set the framework for European security and defense policy for the next 10 years. The ministers also discussed the opportunities and geopolitical challenges posed by new technologies, as well as the need for the EU to respond to them by mobilizing its internal and external instruments, with the goal of strengthening its industrial, technological, and digital sovereignty. With respect to all these issues, France will call for the EU to develop ambitious cooperative ventures with its partners, notably in Africa and the Indo-Pacific region.
The ministers also held a meeting with Yair Lapid, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, in order to review relations between the EU and the new Israeli government, the Middle East peace process, and other regional issues on which the EU is focused and which are of fundamental importance to Israel, notably Lebanon and Iran.
With respect to Lebanon, as the minister indicated at the end of the Council, there is political consensus for establishing a legal framework for sanctions by the end of the month, i.e. before the regrettable anniversary of the explosion in Beirut’s port on August 4. This legal framework will constitute a tool for exerting pressure on the Lebanese authorities to make progress toward forming a government and implementing the necessary reforms expected by this country.
The ministers also discussed the most recent developments in Ethiopia, notably in the Tigray region, stressing the need for the EU to continue to mobilize its efforts with respect to four priorities in particular: the consolidation of the ceasefire, the delivery of humanitarian aid, the swift launch of a national political dialogue and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops. In this respect, the ministers expressed their support for the Commission’s proposal to establish a humanitarian airlift to support the populations of Tigray.
The agenda for this Foreign Affairs Council included, among other international issues, the situation in the South Caucasus, regarding which the ministers reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to the region in support of the mediation efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs; Afghanistan, in the context of a deteriorating security situation marked by advances by the Taliban in many provinces, as well as Belarus, notably with respect to the situation at the EU border and the most recent actions by the regime.