The Informal Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the European Union (“Gymnich”) - 13 and 14 January 2022 [fr]
The Informal Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the European Union, called “Gymnich” after the place where it was first held in 1974, will take place at the Atelier des Capucins in Brest (Finistère, Brittany) on 13 and 14 January 2022.
Gymnich meetings are an opportunity for informal, open and strategic discussions about the priorities of the European Union’s foreign policy. Both long-term prospects and the current main international crises are discussed.
As tradition goes, the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers will directly follow a Meeting of Defence Ministers of Member States. All ministers will attend a joint working session.
The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy decided to focus the Brest meeting on topics that are fundamental to boosting European sovereignty on the international stage:
A Strategic Compass for a More Sovereign Europe
Ministers will have an in-depth discussion about the Strategic Compass during a joint session with Defence Ministers of EU Member States ahead of the meeting with Heads of State and Government in March.
The Strategic Compass is truly a “White Paper” defining the 2030 ambition for European defence. It allows Member States to set out a common strategic vision for the European Union over the next decade. They have been working on it for over a year.
The Strategic Compass will combine a European definition of threats, European operational and industrial capacity building and defending the interests and freedom of action of the European Union in contested areas such as seas and oceans, space, cyber space and information.
It will define actions to be taken in four key areas: crisis management, capacity-building, resilience and partnerships.
In Brest, the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union wants to push work towards an ambitious Strategic Compass to ensure stronger and more operational European defence.
A renewed Eastern Neighbourhood Policy
Ministers will discuss the security situation in the European Union’s Eastern Neighbourhood, particularly in Ukraine and Belarus.
Following the latest meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council, where Member States reiterated their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as their solidarity with Belarusian civil society, ministers will reassess the geostrategic environment. They will discuss initiatives to be rolled out in response to immediate and long-term challenges for the region’s security.
A more balanced relationship with China
Ministers will discuss the relationship between the European Union and China, particularly China’s attitude towards certain Member States of the Union which are experiencing great political, economic and commercial pressure.
This will be an opportunity to ensure that the European Union’s multidimensional approach, developed in its joint communication in 2019, contributes to the objective of having a more balanced, stable and predictable relationship. Ministers will also discuss how China promotes its model within the multilateral system and how the European Union should act in response.
A reshaped partnership between the European Union and the African Union
The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union will organize a joint working session ahead of the European Union-African Union summit to be held on 17 and 18 February 2022. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chair of the African Union Commission, and Aissata Tall Sall, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Senegal, have been invited to this working session where ministers will discuss the future of African Union-European Union relations.
This summit will also provide an opportunity to overhaul the partnership between the two continents and to strengthen the strategic ties between the European Union and the African Union in shared priorities such as prosperity, security and mobility alongside African partners.
Ministers will be able to discuss any matter on the international agenda at the Brest meeting. The relevant commissioners and the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs will be invited to take part in some discussions.