Borrell convenes urgent Council

Brussels 16.08.2021 “Following latest developments in Afghanistan, and after intense contacts with partners in the past days and hours, I decided to convene an extraordinary VTC (video-tele- conference) of EU Foreign Ministers FAC (Foreign Ministers Council) tomorrow afternoon for a first assessment” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

The EU’s relationship with Afghanistan is guided by the 2017 EU Strategy for Afghanistan, aimed at strengthening the country’s institutions and economy. The 2017 Cooperation Agreement provides the basis for developing a mutually beneficial relationship in several areas such as: human rights, the rule of law, health, rural development, education, science and technology, the fight against terrorism, organised crime and narcotics. Most recently, EU27 have given further steer in the May 2020 Conclusions of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council.

On 26 April 2021, the European Union and Afghanistan signed a Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation. The Joint Declaration will help to address irregular migration and promote joint efforts in the fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking and will facilitate the sustainable reintegration of people returning to Afghanistan by focusing on their individual needs and the needs of host and return communities, including opportunities for both skills development and employment.

The Joint Declaration continues the positive EU-Afghan cooperation achieved under the previous Joint Way Forward on Migration Issues, which expired earlier in April.

In line with the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which places particular emphasis on strengthening partnerships between the EU and countries of origin and transit, the Joint Declaration brings significant improvements based on lessons learned from the implementation of the Joint Way Forward, including: a preference for the voluntary return of Afghan nationals, better protection of children, clearer definition of certain vulnerable groups, and a clarification that all EU Member States may participate in joint return operations by non-scheduled flights.

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