General Affairs.

Foreign Ministers will discuss preparation of the June 17-18 European Council, giving initial consideration to an annotated draft agenda for the meeting prepared by the Irish EU Presidency. Work is due to be carried forward in COREPER (the Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives to the EU), with a view to Ministers signing off at the June 14-15 GAERC on draft Conclusions in advance of the European Council. This has a weighty workload. As well as the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), it is due to cover:

- Appointments: next President of the European Commission, Secretary General of the Council/High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and Deputy Secretary-General of the Council;

- EU area of freedom, security and justice;

- Terrorism;

- EU enlargement;

- EU financial perspective for 200713;

- Economic issues and employment;

- External relations, CFSP and ESDP.

Foreign Ministers will meet in the IGC framework on both Monday and Tuesday mornings to tackle outstanding issues in the way of a new EU Constitution.

External Relations.

The Ministers will discuss the Middle East peace process over lunch, following the May 4 Quartet meeting in New York. In the afternoon, they will turn to preparations for the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit on May 28-29 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and for the EU-Russia Summit on May 21 in Moscow.

On the Western Balkans, the Council is expected to request an avis (Opinion) from the Commission on the recent application to join the EU from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. While the Opinion for Croatia took roughly one year to compile, officials are already saying that it is expected to take longer for FYROM in view of its weaker administrative capacity. Conclusions on the Western Balkans are expected to cover:

- Serbia and Montenegro/Kosovo: commitment to the "standards before status" policy, and to speeding up its implementation;

- Stabilisation and Association Process: annual review by the Council of the SAP and of progress made by the countries of the region towards the objective of European integration; and welcoming Commission proposals for the first "European Partnerships" with the Western Balkans countries.

Other business.

A number of other points could be broached, concerning: the International Criminal Court (at Denmark's request); developments in Sudan and Burma/Myanmar; Syria - see separate article in Section V; and Libya (at Germany's...

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