The Foreign Affairs Council in its development configuration convened on 20 May 2022. Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy introduced the main topic, namely the looming global food security crisis. The food market was already under stress before the war, but after the Russian attack against Ukraine, this crisis has exacerbated.
Ministers were informed about the gravity of the situation and its implications worldwide, which will severely affect vulnerable populations around the world, particularly in low-income countries who depend on food and fertiliser imports.
The Council then discussed various strands of action that the EU will take forward in a Team Europe spirit.
The EU will assist vulnerable populations with emergency relief and contribute to strengthen food affordability. It will support over 70 partner countries in boosting output and the resilience and sustainability of their food systems and is committed to release 20 million tons of grains currently blocked in Ukraine’s silos through the so-called “Solidarity lanes”, recently proposed by the European Commission. Additionally the EU will work even more closely with and in the United Nations, the G7, the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative, and other formats for global cooperation on this crisis.
The Secretary General for International Economic Affairs, Mr. Ioannis Smyrlis, represented Greece. Mr. Smyrlis underlined the importance of the EU activation as Team Europe for countering the negative consequences of the war in world food security, emphasizing the need to focus in the most vulnerable countries through implementing flagships which should include connectivity programmes. He stressed that it is essential that Ukraine to remain fully integrated in global supply chains and agricultural markets by keeping transport routes and supply chains operational.
Development ministers held an informal exchange of views with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who provided an overview of the global situation and the work carried out by the UNHCR. The discussion focused on Ukraine, Sahel, Afghanistan and Myanmar among others. Currently, there are over 100 million people forcibly displaced around the world.
UNHCR is a key partner for the EU and together with its member states, is the second largest donor to UNHCR. The EU is working closely with its member states on a joint Team Europe response to address the consequences of the crisis and to ensure adequate financing and support to the most affected and vulnerable populations across the globe.
The Council approved conclusions on:
(i) “EU’s renewed partnership with Least Developed Countries”
(ii) “2021 Annual Report on the implementation of the European Union’s External Action Instruments in 2020”.