Press Releases European Council conclusions on external relations, 24 June 2021

European Council conclusions on external relations, 24 June 2021


  1. The European Council reverted to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the European Union’s relations with Turkey, and recalled the EU’s strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. It welcomes the de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean, which needs to be sustained in line with the statement by the Members of the European Council of 25 March 2021.
  2. The European Council reiterates the EU’s readiness to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner to enhance cooperation in a number of areas of common interest, subject to the established conditionalities set out in March and in previous European Council conclusions.
  3. In line with this framework, it takes note of the start of work at technical level towards a mandate for the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and recalls the need to address current difficulties in the implementation of the Customs Union, ensuring its effective application to all Member States. Such a mandate may be adopted by the Council subject to additional guidance by the European Council.
  4. It also takes note of the preparatory work for high level dialogues with Turkey on issues of mutual interest, such as migration, public health, climate, counterterrorism and regional issues.
  5. The European Council calls on the Commission to put forward without delay formal proposals for the continuation of financing for Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other parts of the region, in line with the statement of the Members of the European Council of March 2021 and within the context of the EU’s overall migration policy.
  6. The European Council recalls its previous conclusions and remains fully committed to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. It underlines the importance of the status of Varosha and calls for full respect of UN Security Council Resolutions, in particular Resolutions 550, 789 and 1251. It regrets that the informal meeting in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations did not pave the way for the resumption of formal negotiations. The European Union will continue to play an active role in supporting the process.
  7. Rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey remain a key concern. The targeting of political parties, human rights defenders and media represents major setbacks for human rights and runs counter to Turkey’s obligations to respect democracy, the rule of law and women’s rights. Dialogue on such issues remains an integral part of the EU-Turkey relationship.
  8. In line with the shared interest of the EU and Turkey in regional peace and stability, the European Council expects Turkey and all actors to contribute positively to the resolution of regional crises.
  9. The European Council will remain seized of the matter.


  1. The European Council confirms its commitment to Libya’s stabilisation process under the auspices of the United Nations. Elections should take place as agreed in the Roadmap on 24 December 2021 and their results accepted by all.
  2. The European Council calls for progress on the inclusive and Libyan-owned political dialogue and for the withdrawal without delay of all foreign forces and mercenaries.


  1. In line with its conclusions of 24-25 May 2021, the European Council discussed relations with Russia, taking into account the report by the High Representative and the Commission.
  2. The European Union is committed to a united, long-term, and strategic European approach based on the five guiding principles. The European Council invites the Council, the Commission and the High Representative to continue to implement them fully, with due regard to the European Union’s values, principles and interests.
  3. The European Council expects the Russian leadership to demonstrate a more constructive engagement and political commitment and stop actions against the EU and its Member States, as well as against third countries.
  4. The European Council calls on Russia to fully assume its responsibility in ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk agreements as the key condition for any substantial change in the EU’s stance.
  5. Regarding the strengthening of our resilience, the European Council stresses the need for a firm and coordinated response by the EU and its Member States to any further malign, illegal and disruptive activity by Russia, making full use of all instruments at the EU’s disposal, and ensuring coordination with partners. To this end, the European Council also invites the Commission and the High Representative to present options for additional restrictive measures, including economic sanctions.
  6. The European Council stresses the need to further deepen and intensify political, economic and people-to-people ties and cooperation with the Eastern Partners with a view to increasing their resilience. In this context, it recalls the 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit declaration which acknowledges the European aspirations and European choice of the Eastern Partners concerned, as stated in the Association Agreements, and in the context of their entry into force. It also underlines its commitment to deepening relations with Central Asia.
  7. The European Council reiterates the European Union’s openness to a selective engagement with Russia in areas of EU interest. It invites the Commission and the High Representative to develop concrete options including conditionalities and leverages in this regard, with a view to their consideration by the Council, on topics such as climate and the environment, health, as well as selected issues of foreign and security policy and multilateral issues such as the JCPoA, Syria and Libya. In this context, the European Council will explore formats and conditionalities of dialogue with Russia.
  8. The European Council condemns the limitations on fundamental freedoms in Russia and the shrinking space for civil society. It stresses the need for people-to-people contacts and continued EU support to Russian civil society, human rights organisations and independent media. It invites the Commission and the High Representative to put forward proposals in this regard.
  9. The European Council reiterates its full support for all efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability for the victims of the downing of MH17 and their next of kin and calls on all States to cooperate fully with the ongoing legal case.
  10. The European Council will come back to this issue, assess implementation and provide further guidance as necessary.


  1. The European Council welcomes the timely implementation of the measures concerning Belarus, in line with its conclusions of 24-25 of May 2021.
  2. The European Council reiterates its call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and arbitrarily detained persons, including Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega, and for an end to repression of civil society and independent media. It reiterates the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their president through new, free and fair elections.


  1. The European Council reaffirms its call on the Malian transition authorities to fully implement the Transition Charter. It welcomes the conclusions of the ECOWAS summit held on 19 June.
  2. The EU and its Member States will continue to support the stabilisation of G5 Sahel countries, in particular the G5 Sahel Joint Force, through the continuation of EU CSDP missions and engagement in the Takuba Task Force.
  3. The European Council reaffirms the EU’s support to the G5 Sahel countries’ efforts to strengthen governance, the rule of law and the provision of public services in their territories.


  1. The European Council condemns the ongoing atrocities, ethnic-based and sexual violence and other human rights violations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and welcomes the ongoing investigations to bring accountability and justice. The European Council calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces.
  2. The EU and its Member States reiterate their commitment to support Ethiopia in the implementation of democratic reforms and reconciliation efforts.


  1. The European Council condemns recent malicious cyber activities against Member States, including in Ireland and Poland. It invites the Council to explore appropriate measures within the framework of the cyber diplomacy toolbox.

The European Council held an exchange of views with United Nations Secretary-General Guterres.

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