Foreign affairs and international relations
Miroslav Lajčák: Regardless of the outcome of UK's referendum, the EU needs to reflect on itself
For Slovakia, today's discussions had a special atmosphere, Mr Lajčák said. “It is one of the last ministerial meetings in which we have participated as an ordinary Member State. From next month, in ten days, we will be holding the presidency of the EU Council.”
According to Minister Lajčák, discussions led by the EU Member States' heads of diplomacy were marked by the UK's imminent referendum on its Union membership. “Partners were intensely interested in our opinion, since we will be taking the helm soon,” he added.
“We sincerely hope that Britain will remain in the Union, because both Britain and the Union are stronger when they are together.”
“We sincerely hope that Britain will remain in the Union, because both Britain and the Union are stronger when they are together,” stated the head of Slovak diplomacy. He added that, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the EU needed to deeply reflect on itself. “It would be a mistake to conclude that we will go on as if nothing had happened. At the same time, it would be a mistake to start a race of institutions rushing headlong into an ill-considered plan for the future of the Union.”
Minister Lajčák explained that such a reflection should take place at the level of European political leaders, and should seek to ensure that EU becomes “more efficient, closer to the citizens and focused on their concerns”. “The European Union has been losing the support of our citizens, who feel increasingly they are unable to identify with the issues that the EU deals with,” concluded Mr Lajčák.
At their joint meeting, the EU foreign ministers gave approval to the extension of the operational plan EUNAVFOR MED Sophia. This would have two new supporting tasks – coast guard training and control of the arms embargo close to Libyan territorial waters. Minister Lajčák stated that this was “a step in the right direction” and added that Slovakia plans to participate by sending ten experts on a German ship.
While discussing the Sahel region, the EU ministers stressed its importance for EU security and highlighted the need to tackle irregular migration. They supported a multifaceted approach to help the region. This approach would include long-term support projects and projects focused on development of prospects in the region.
Ministers also discussed the political crisis in Macedonia and agreed on the need for reform and the holding of credible elections. Slovakia stressed the need for the country to maintain its European perspective as a motivating factor.
Last but not least, the Foreign Affairs Council approved its conclusions on the Arctic, since the development in this region has global impacts. The key elements of the EU's policy include environmental protection, sustainable development, cooperation with all relevant stakeholders including indigenous peoples and support for science and research.
You can watch a video recording from Mr Lajčák's press briefing here.