European Union External Action

EU-US relations: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP Plenary

Strasbourg, 05/10/2021 - 12:51, UNIQUE ID: 211005_25
HR/VP speeches

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Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

Certainly, we all agree that the United States remains the European Union’s closest and most important strategic partner. It is like this and it has to continue being like this. There should not be doubts about that.

This year, we launched the renewed Joint Transatlantic Agenda after a very successful European Union Summit with the United States and there has been a strong partnership and engagement with the United States administration. Certainly much more and in a better way than with the previous one.

Transatlantic partnership is vital and irreplaceable. But we need to place it on a stronger footing. AUKUS has been a wakeup call and there are changes in the American society that have been in the making for many years and that will certainly affect the role of the United States in the world. After Afghanistan, the United States has been sending a clear message about how they want to reorder their priorities - facing China, mainly - and we should be ready to adapt to this new situation and shoulder our part of the burden to keep peace and security in the world.

I have had regular discussions with Secretary [of State of the United States, Antony] Blinken during the UNGA week and I will travel to Washington next week to meet him again. He is in Paris today and I will be in Washington next week, so our links will be increasingly important and – I hope - will be delivering.

These meetings are important for our ongoing discussions on issues related to the transatlantic agenda that has to be put in the frame of the new developments in the world. What we have to think about is how the 21st century will be. Will the 21st century be born on Tiananmen [square] or will it be born on the fall of the Berlin Wall? These two events, so different, mark the different paths of the future. How will the future be? It will be depending on our capacity to strengthen the transatlantic relationship in order to defend democracies in the world.

I take note of the references in your Report to the need to foster greater self-reliance in matters of defence. And on this point of view - and I am going to jump to French - il faut reconnaître l’importance stratégique de l’engagement que le Président [des États Unis, Joe] Biden a pris avec le Président [de la République française, Emmanuel] Macron dans une conversation qui a été peut-être courte, mais, sans doute, très importante à propos de la région indopacifique y compris dans le cadre stratégique que l’Union Européenne vient de publier sur cette région du monde. Et dans le cadre de la lutte contre le terrorisme, les États Unis se sont engagés à renforcer leur soutien aux opérations anti-terroristes au Sahel, menés par les états européens.

Dans cette communication, les États Unis ont également reconnu l’importance d’une défense européenne plus forte et plus performante, qui contribue positivement à la sécurité transatlantique, en complémentarité avec l’OTAN. Oui, l’espace euro-atlantique est au cœur de l’OTAN. L’OTAN c’est l’outil fondamental de notre défense collective, mais la gestion de crises dans le voisinage européen doit nous appeler à nous, les européens, en premier lieu.

Cette communication ouvre la porte a des développements futurs, dont les chefs d’état et de gouvernement vont discuter ce soir en Slovénie et qui va suivre la présentation de la Boussole Stratégique au mois de Novembre.

These steps will strengthen our collective commitment to the United States operation management and enhance – as the report points out - our instruments and mechanism.

We are working on a new joint statement EU-NATO by the end of the year, to renew those of 2016 and 2018. But our dialogue with the United States is not only in the framework of NATO, because not all European Union Member States are members of NATO and there are many NATO members who are not European Union Member States. So, we have to have a direct and complementary relationship and strategic dialogue United States-European Union.

We discussed with Secretary Blinken in the United Nations General Assembly about how this dialogue and cooperation can be strengthened and we agreed on the need to put in place a system to avoid issues like the one around AUKUS in the future. As your report recommends, we must also launch the dedicated dialogue on security and defence.

Certainly, it also calls for a closer transatlantic foreign policy coordination. You can rest assured that we will continue to cooperate and partner with the United States in key foreign and security policy areas, mainly in front of the development of China on the economic, political and military points of view. But, as President Biden has also said in his United Nations’ speech, not willing to restart a new cold war with China.

Also, on the Western Balkans, I have to say that our cooperation with the United States is much better. On the recent crisis between Kosovo and Serbia -that has been solved thanks to the good work of our Special Envoy, Miroslav Lajčák - I have to say that our cooperation with the United States Envoy has been very positive.

You also report on the significance of the transatlantic economic relationship. When we have had this successful inauguration of the Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh, it is clear that we now have a framework with the potential to make joint progress on global economic and technological challenges. I think that it is very much important to seize this opportunity, because the world of tomorrow will be shaped around the technological developments. Who will master technology, will master the power. And at that moment, we, Europeans, need to develop much quicker our technological capacities and this can be better done together with the United States, but talking also about the issues on which we can disagree.

There are some difficult issues: secure the change of supply on the field of semiconductors, to be sure that we are not going to create in the future an overcapacity; to talk about tariffs; data protection; artificial intelligence. This is an incredibly broad set of issues that will shape the future and on which we have to engage more with the United States.

A last word on COP-26, we look forward to continuing our close coordination with the United States to get every country to do more to fight climate change. Yesterday, I was in Saudi Arabia talking about it. Sometimes it is a difficult discussion, because we, Europeans, are only 8% of the global emissions. Even if we cancel them tomorrow, zero emissions, the problem will be the same. It will still be the 92%, the rest.

We have to work together with the United States, especially on the recently announced Global Methane Pledge. Because we talk about CO2, but there are other gases that have also a strong capacity of destroying the atmosphere and methane is one of them. And this Global Methane Pledge will be another possibility and occasion for us to cooperate with the United States on climate change.

In September, our Executive Vice-President [in charge of the European Green Deal, Frans] Timmermans and the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, [John] Kerry, co-chaired the second meeting of the High-Level Climate Action Group, which is one of the key deliverables of our European Union-United States Summit.

Finally, let me underline that the recent announcement on the lifting of travel restrictions, Croatia's access to the Visa Waiver Programme and the launch of the Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce – thanks to the good work of our Commissioner [for Internal Market, Thierry] Breton - are also positive developments linked to our Joint Agenda that will benefit the whole world, because if we, the United States and the European Union, work together, the world will be vaccinated quicker.

In conclusion, the recommendations that you make in your report are very much timely. It is a long report; there are a lot of issues on it. Our relationship with the United States is, certainly, the stronger pillar of our freedom and prosperity. We have to continue building on it, but at the same time, we have to continue building our autonomy, because our interests will not always exactly coincide.

This report is very much timely, I thank the rapporteur for that, I thank the Members of this debate for the contribution that they can do to this very important issue.

Thank you.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-211084

 

Closing remarks on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell delivered by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson

Thank you Mr President, Honourable Members,

The High Representative/Vice-President [Josep] Borrell had to leave to speak to the Parliament’s Conference of Committee Chairs (CCC), so I will close this debate on his behalf.

Your report and the debate today testifies your continued interest and engagement on the future of the transatlantic relationship.

The challenges facing the world at this time are significant. You mentioned a number of them. For instance, on China, the European Union and the United States are facing similar challenges related to China’s growing assertiveness. This is why the High Representative/Vice-President Borrell and the United States State Secretary [Antony] Blinken launched the European Union-United States dialogue on China on March this year.

On trade and technology, the recent Pittsburgh meeting was an opportunity for a strategic discussion on the future of Trade and Technology Council (TTC), defining programmes for ten working groups and announcing deliverables in five areas: export control, Artificial Intelligence, semiconductors, investment screening and global trade challenges.

Stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, and beyond, will be enhanced by our ability to work together, which is part of the European Union’s strategic autonomy. Having the capacity to act autonomously when and where necessary and with partners, including the United States, wherever possible.

Therefore, together, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to collaborate on the key challenges of our day: safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our people - like the recent Croatia Visa Waiver shows - and our planet; supporting and encouraging democratic values; and promoting international peace, security and economic prosperity for all.

Thank you for your important contribution and your support for our work.

Thank you.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-211086