Belgium and its Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere host Gymnich

On Friday, 10 and Saturday, 11 September 2010, Belgium hosts an informal meeting of the European Union’s Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs, also known as ‘Gymnich’. The name ‘Gymnich’ refers to the place in Germany where the first informal summit of this type was held during the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 1974.

Since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, the Foreign Affairs Council has been chaired by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Catherine Ashton. At this informal Gymnich meeting, Minister Vanackere and Lady Ashton welcome the ministers of foreign affairs.

The purpose of Gymnich is to give the ministers a chance to freely, informally and intensively exchange ideas with each other about a range of topical EU foreign policy issues. Instead of adopting formal conclusions, Gymnich tries to outline the broad thrust of EU foreign policy.

Alongside other discussion topics on the packed agenda of Belgium’s Gymnich meeting on 10 and 11 September are EU humanitarian aid for Pakistan and the cooperation and aid prospects for that country in the short and medium term. Other issues that are addressed include relations with strategic partner countries of the European Union and the cooperation between the EU and Turkey regarding foreign policy.

Moreover, a working breakfast is held on Saturday with the four candidates for EU membership: Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Croatia and Iceland.