The Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, expressed the EU’s support for the autonomy and fundamental freedoms of the people of Hong Kong during its meeting on 13 July. In discussing the entry into force of national security legislation in Hong Kong, the EU’s foreign affairs ministers also underscored the decision’s potential to impact the Union’s relations with China.

In its formal conclusions adopted today (28 July), the Council restated the EU’s support for Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and expressed solidarity with its people. It also set out a coordinated response package of measures, which include:

  • asylum, migration, visa and residence policy
  • exports of specific sensitive equipment and technologies for end use in Hong Kong
  • scholarships and academic exchanges involving Hong Kong students and universities
  • support to civil society
  • the operation of member states’ extradition arrangements and other relevant agreements with Hong Kong

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued today the following statement on the adoption of the Council’s conclusions on Hong Kong:

If we want to stand up for our values and principles in dealing with powers like China, then we as Europeans must speak with one voice. That is why I’m glad that we have reached consensus among the EU Foreign Ministers today on Council conclusions on Hong Kong. These conclusions send a signal of solidarity with the people who fear that the “one country, two systems” principle will be undermined and their freedoms curtailed. We expect China to respect its obligations under international law and to guarantee autonomy and the freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law.

Together with France, we have tabled an initiative for a coordinated European response to the application of the Security Law in Hong Kong to the EU Foreign Affairs Council. This means that we now have a common toolbox. It is now up to each member state to implement the measures within the scope of its national competence. This applies to the export of sensitive goods – especially technologies that can be used for surveillance purposes. We also want to strengthen our dialogue with civil society and make greater use of our scholarship programmes to this end. We will review the national extradition agreements and pay particular attention to the extraterritorial impact of the law.

We have already begun to take first steps as far as Germany is concerned. For me, this also means that we will immediately cease exports of military equipment, and also of particularly sensitive dual use goods, to Hong Kong and treat the territory in the same way as the rest of the People’s Republic of China.

The conclusions echo the declaration on the matter issued by the High Representative on May 22: “The European Union has a strong stake in the continued stability and prosperity of Hong Kong under the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle. It attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, in line with the Basic Law and with international commitments, as well as to the respect for this principle.”