EU Foreign Affairs Ministers discuss renewed approach to engagement with the Southern Neighbourhood

Reference Number: PR210599, Press Release Issue Date: Mar 23, 2021
“The crux of partnership and cooperation between the Southern Neighbourhood and the European Union should also be based on their needs and aspirations” – Minister Evarist Bartolo

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council met yesterday to discuss several themes including relations with the Southern Neigbourhood countries. 

Minister Bartolo noted that following talks with representatives from across the region, it became evidently clear how important it was to engage with partners to address their needs, in a spirit of sincere cooperation, based on shared ownership and which goes beyond financial aid.

He spoke about the need for cooperation in important economic sectors such as renewable energy and digital transformation, along with trade and investments, maintaining that such cooperation would also serve the aims of job creation, social inclusion and women’s empowerment. Minister Bartolo also insisted that the EU must continue to invest in peace and stability in the region, while noting that the Team Europe needs to be more visible on the ground.

In this context, Minister Bartolo also stressed the importance of addressing Libya, particularly in view of the recent positive political developments, adding that active EU support is needed to strengthen the recent achievements and guarantee a united Libya, in the hands of the Libyans and for the benefit of all Libyans. Minister Bartolo also emphasised that cooperation on migration with Southern partners was also essential in particular vis-à-vis support towards the protection and strengthening of their borders as well as tackling the issue of migrant smuggling.

The Foreign Affairs Ministers also held an informal exchange with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and a discussion on EU-Turkey relations, the latter on the basis of a Joint Report issued by the Commission and the High Representative.

In the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council, Minister Evarist Bartolo and his Cypriot counterpart, Minister Nikos Christodoulides signed a Memorandum of Understanding providing the framework by which the two countries could establish Diplomatic Missions making joint use of the premises in third countries, as well as establishing scope for cooperation.

Minister Bartolo also had a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó, in which they discussed regional issues as well as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.