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Foreign Affairs Council (Development), 20 May 2022

Main results

The Foreign Affairs Council, in its development configuration, discussed the looming global food security crisis generated by the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, and the multilateral response to that crisis.

The food market was already under stress before the war, but following the Russian attack against Ukraine this crisis has become much worse. Today it endangers the food security of millions of people in many parts of the world. The Russian troops are bombing Ukrainian fields, not allowing the sowing of crops, looting food stocks, blocking Ukrainian ports, and so increasing prices for food and fertiliser, that have skyrocketed in many parts of the world. So the world food supply is in danger, mainly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

- Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Ministers were informed about the gravity of the situation and its implications worldwide.
In 2021, Russia and Ukraine were among the world's top exporters of cereals and sunflower seeds and oil, with Ukraine accounting for over 50% of world trade in sunflower oil. It is estimated that between 20% and 30% of the areas under winter cereal, maize and sunflower seed production in Ukraine will either remain unharvested or not be planted this spring because of the ongoing conflict. This will severely impact vulnerable populations around the world, particularly in low-income countries which depend on food and fertiliser imports.

The Council then discussed various strands of action that the EU will take forward in a Team Europe spirit.

Firstly, the EU will provide vulnerable populations with emergency relief and help to improve food affordability and macro-economic stability in the short term. Secondly, the EU will support over 70 partner countries in boosting output and the resilience and sustainability of their food systems, to increase food security in the medium term. Thirdly, the EU is committed to securing the release of 20 million tonnes of grain currently blocked in Ukraine’s silos by Putin’s war, and putting them on the global markets as quickly as possible through the 'solidarity lanes' recently proposed by the European Commission. Lastly, the EU will work even more closely with and within the United Nations, the G7, the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative, and other formats for global cooperation on this crisis.

Development ministers had an informal exchange of views with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who provided an overview of the global situation and the work carried out by UNHCR. The discussion focused on Ukraine, the Sahel, Afghanistan and Myanmar, among others. There are currently over 100 million forcibly displaced people around the world.

UNHCR is a key partner for the EU, which, together with its member states, is the second-largest donor to UNHCR. The EU is working closely with its member states on a joint Team Europe response to address the consequences of the crisis and ensure adequate financing and support for the most affected and vulnerable populations across the globe.

Council conclusions

The Council approved conclusions on: