The Belgian Presidency comes to an end – Achievements of the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

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The Belgian Presidency has ended on 30 June. The excellent cooperation between all government departments involved was one of the reasons why it was such a successful semester. What follows are the priority achievements of FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Defending rule of law

The Belgian Presidency organised two country-specific dialogues on rule of law, during which Member States addressed topics highlighted by the European Commission in its most recent rule of law report. By organising a Council discussion on judicial reforms decided by the Polish government, the Presidency also facilitated the Commission’s decision to end the Art. 7(1) TEU procedure for Poland. At the end of its term, the Presidency held a hearing on Hungary within the framework of the Art. 7(1) TEU procedure.


This commitment to the Rule of Law was reflected in the way the Belgian Presidency successfully took forward the Council’s work regarding enlargement. For the first time ever, the Presidency invited all ten partners with an EU perspective to exchange on ways to strengthen the rule of law in the enlargement process. To more prominently include the rule of law in their European perspective, the Presidency helped shape the format of an upcoming rule of law dialogue with candidate countries. The Belgian Presidency also took forward the EU’s enlargement process as a beacon for stability and prosperity on the European continent by obtaining Council approval of the Negotiating Frameworks for Ukraine and Moldova, and organising Intergovernmental Conferences with regard to Ukraine, Moldova and Montenegro.

Promoting a global Europa

The Presidency supported the EU's efforts to strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, It strengthened trade relationship the US, Japan, Angola and Kenya, and coordinated the EU’s leadership to strengthen the rules-based order including within the World Trade Organisation. Relations with the Neighbourhood, African, ASEAN and Latin America countries as well as the Indo-Pacific were highlighted within the EU's strategic foreign policy.

Furthermore, in response to increased focus on Europe’s economic security, the Presidency helped shape EU policy in this regard, advancing on all three pillars of the Economic Security Strategy. It presented a comprehensive Progress Report on Economic Security to streamline efforts and identify areas for further work.

Supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression

The BPEU reaffirmed its unwavering support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression through the agreements on the Ukraine Facility, the Ukraine Assistance Fund, the extension of autonomous trade measures on Ukrainian exports, and the transfer of contributions on profits made from immobilised Russian assets to support Ukraine. It also found agreement on the imposition of the 13th and the preparation of the 14th sanctions package against Russia and sanctions against Belaris. Finally, it organised the first Intergovernmental Conference at ministerial level to open accession negotiations with Ukraine.

Acting on the EU’s commitment to peace in the Middle East

The Belgian Presidency worked to counteract further escalation of the conflict in the Middle East by finding common ground for (re-)engagement with UNRWA, launching an EU military operation contributing to maritime security in the Red Sea, and adopting sanctions against members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as against violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Preparing Europe’s future

Following the conclusions of the European Council in April, Belgium issued a Presidency Report on work towards a new competitiveness deal.

To help make the EU future-proof, the BPEU prepared a Progress Report on the Future of Europe to inform the European Council Conclusions on a Roadmap for future work on internal reforms. In this effort, it took into account the triple challenge of retaining and improving the EU's internal functioning and capacity to act, while adapting to a new geopolitical reality, and preparing for enlargement. Broad agreement emerged that reforms should focus on values, policies, budget and governance. In this context, the Belgian Presidency underlined the importance of strategic foresight.

"We have placed our fundamental values - human rights, democracy and the rule of law - at the heart of our Presidency. Because the European Union is first and foremost a Union of values. Without shared values, there can be no Europe. The opening of accession negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine was an historic moment. I am delighted that this new chapter has been written under the Belgian Presidency.

Our support for Ukraine against Russian aggression and our efforts in favour of a ceasefire in the Middle East and a two-state solution underline our commitment to the advent of peace. In addition to several important agreements in support of Ukraine, the EU Member States, at Belgium's initiative, called on Israel not to take military action at Rafah and stressed the need for a lasting ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid. This was the first time that the Union had spoken with one voice on the Middle East conflict.

All these achievements under the Belgian Presidency remind us once again that our fundamental values must guide our action, be protected and defended. They can never be taken for granted,” said Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Mutually beneficial partnerships

The Belgian Presidency put partnerships and partners at the centre of the development agenda. This was illustrated in practice through the organisation of several high-level encounters and conferences with the African Union (AU) and African partners, such as a ministerial Team Europe visit to Addis Ababa (to the AU and Africa CDC) to building trust and ownership. By working together on Global health, the Presidency advanced the overall political EU-AU partnership.

Human development

The Presidency placed health as a global public good at the centre of the development agenda with Africa. Following the Council Conclusions on the EU Global Health Strategy adopted on 29 January, the deepening of the EU-AU partnership on global health was agreed and four new Team Europe initiatives on health, education and social protection were launched. Human development, with health and education at its core, was highlighted as a key pillar of Global Gateway.

Crises and fragility

Russia's war in Ukraine and the situation in Gaza dominated the semester, including the Ukraine Facility and UNRWA reengagement. Challenges in fragile and politically constrained environments led to a set of principles for more impactful and coherent EU development cooperation in these contexts. On the humanitarian front, the Presidency focused on five priorities: the funding gap, protection, underfunded and forgotten crises, localisation and Accountability to Affected People (AAP), and humanitarian space, in line with the Trio program. Moreover, the Council adopted Conclusions on Protection on Humanitarian settings. The third edition of the European Humanitarian Forum was co-organized by the Presidency and the European Commission.

Instruments and financing for development

The Presidency strengthened political guidance on the European Financial Architecture for Development, focusing on inclusiveness, resilience, sustainability and fragile and least developed countries. Discussions aimed to steer the NDICI-GE Mid-Term Review and Evaluation, with the Council concluding the instrument is fit for purpose while recalling the guiding role of the Council.

Climate cooperation

The Belgian Presidency spared no efforts on tackling the triple environmental crises. With the UNEA6 meeting in Nairobi the Presidency led the negotiations for the binding international treaty that should bring plastic pollution to an end. We also coordinated EU follow-up and preparations for the Rio Conventions on Desertification and on Biodiversity.

Migration partnerships

The Presidency continued the momentum of developing global, balanced, transparent and mutually beneficial (migration) partnerships with a number of priority countries of origin and transit. The Belgian presidency addressed topics as voluntary return and sustainable reintegration, legal migration, the issue of the missing migrants and the migration situation in the Great Lakes region.

Citizen participation

During its term, Belgium organised the first-ever Council presidency citizens' panel, aimed at enhancing citizen engagement and trust in the EU.

With instability, violence and conflict on the rise globally, the importance of international cooperation and development in an effective and consistent European foreign policy cannot be overestimated. That was the common thread running through our presidency. I am proud that the goals we set out for ourselves have resulted in concrete progress and results: in building a more equal partnership between Europe and Africa, through cooperation on Global Health; in standing fast in our commitment to international humanitarian law, and our humanitarian partners, such as UNRWA, despite overwhelming pressure; and putting a spotlight on forgotten crises and victims of sexual violence, especially in DRC and Sudan,” concluded Caroline Gennez, Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities.

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