Brussels, 28 January 2019
Check against delivery!
Merci beaucoup, Didier [Reynders, Ministre des affaires étrangères de la Belgique]. Premièrement, je voudrais te remercier pour avoir organisé cette rencontre. Il est particulièrement important pour nous de coordonner les positions des Etats-membres de l’Union européenne qui sont aussi membres du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies. Je voudrais aussi féliciter la Belgique et l’Allemagne pour avoir commencé leur travail au Conseil de Sécurité [des Nations Unies] à partir du 1er janvier de cette année.
These are exceptional years for the European Union in terms of presence in the [UN] Security Council, because in 2018, 2019 and 2020, we have five Member States sitting in the Security Council. That is one third of the members. It will be one fewer after Brexit – but still coordinating positions very closely and then we will discuss that after it happens.
So, we have a special responsibility and we feel a special responsibility - especially in this time of global politics - to coordinate positions to bring into the Security Council our European views on peace and security, but also our strong support – as Didier [Reynders] said – to the UN system, to multilateralism, to conflict prevention, to peace-keeping, to democracy and human rights.
So, we have started this coordination at ministerial level already last September in the margins of the UN General Assembly; we had a meeting with all the then-current, but also upcoming members of the Security Council that are also Member States of the European Union. And I am very glad that we have this second opportunity here in Brussels today. As Didier [Reynders] said, we have decided to continue coordinating the positions of the European Union Member States in both New York and Brussels.
We are constantly working to coordinate positions inside the European Union with monthly meetings of the Foreign Ministers – sometimes, like this month, we even have two meetings, because we are meeting again next Thursday in Bucharest. And it is only natural for us to try and bring these positions into the Security Council, at a moment when the world is looking to the European Union more and more as a point of reference. We already have some good stories, like the fact that we are speaking more and more often with a coordinated or with one single stakeout after the Security Council meetings, as it happened last Saturday after the Security Council debate on Venezuela where the Secretary of State of the United Kingdom [for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jeremy Hunt] was reading the EU position in the presence of all the permanent representatives of the EU Member States in the Security Council, expressing one position.
And I think this also has an impact on the capacity we have to coordinate positions with others, be it countries from Africa, Latin America, or Asia. You might have noticed that last week we hosted here in Brussels ministerial meetings both with the African Union and with the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Foreign Ministers. This puts us at the centre of a potential network of countries that can definitely make a change in the dynamics in the UN system. So, we have decided to use this potential to its maximum, and at the service - as usual - of the values the European Union is backing, which are first and foremost multilateralism, democracy, human rights, sustainable development, the fight against climate change and so on and so forth.
To end, I would like to personally thank the Ministers for their presence here and for the very European approach they have taken in using their seats in the Security Council as a European seat.
Thank you very much.
Q: Just some months ago, Germany presented its idea of having a European Security Council seat. What are your comments?
I can only subscribe to that [what Didier Reynders said], and this is only natural because on the one side, on the European Union level there is full understanding of the fact that the Member States to the United Nations - and to the United Nations Security Council - are there in their national capacity and this is their prerogative. But it is also true that we are living in particular times of challenges to the multilateral system and to the United Nations system in particular that require the Europeans and the EU as such to fully play its role and fulfil its responsibility in support of the United Nations' work.
I was sharing with my colleagues at the beginning of our meeting a personal anecdote. When I started in Brussels, everybody was telling me “Do not touch the [United Nations] Security Council. This is for Member States only.” I think things have changed over time, because it is the Member States that realised that the European Union and being Members of the European Union can bring an additional element to their national policies; it can give more strength; it can give more tools to reach out to other regional organisations, as it was mentioned, not only towards the African Union or ASEAN, but one week from now [on 4 February 2019], we will have in Brussels a meeting with the Ministers [of Foreign Affairs] of the League of Arab States.
So there is an additional dimension that does not take anything away from the national prerogatives in the [United Nations] Security Council, but that gives more strength, more coherence, more power to the European positions if coordinated.
With the European Union being the most reliable and strongest supporter of the United Nations system in all sectors - from humanitarian to peacekeeping, to policymaking -, it is only natural for our Members to take their responsibility, to coordinate, and me and my teams here in Brussels are at the full disposal of our Member States to make this coordination as fruitful as possible.