European Union External Action

Remarks by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union and Vice-President of the European Commission, at the Brookings Institute

Thank you very much for the memories.  For the warm welcome, and also for the joint invitation.  It's a pleasure to be back here in Brookings.  Actually, I was in, I think, in another room next door less than a year ago.  It's a pleasure to meet again, friends.  Not only at Brookings.  I have to say, my student, a fellow in 2007, was one of the best and most important experiences of my life, and I would say that shows that the fellowship works. 

But coming here, I realized that the first time I travelled to America, I was 28.  And that was just after 9/11.  And all Europeans felt very strong sense of solidarity at that time.  All Americans in our hearts, and with our minds.  And I remember very well that during my visit, that was a private trip, I was very much impressed by the sense of pride and unity of the American people in those days after the attacks.  And US flags were everywhere, and rightly so. 

14 years later, I have seen the same sense of pride and unity in the streets of Paris.  With thousands, millions, actually, of citizens.  French European citizens show the strongest possible reaction to a terrorist attack that many Europeans, many French, perceived as our own 9/11.  Obviously, we have had other attacks on European Union soil.  In Madrid, in London, and now in Paris.  But the numbers of victims are usually not comparable, but the symbol is the same.  As America was attacked, targeting the symbols of power and integration, the World Trade Center, Europe was attacked targeting the symptoms of its freedoms and rights.  Journalists, freedom of speech, media freedom, the police, the right to live in security.  Jewish people, freedom of religion and rights of minorities.  And if you try and test a little bit your French, liberté, égailté, securité.  Words have disappeared from the narrative, and I think this is a message we should all reflect upon at this time. 

In 2001, America reacted with pride and unity around its flag.  Today, we are reacting with pride and unity around a renewed sense of European identity.  Not something to be given for granted, if you look at the political trends of the years in Europe.  Still, we have the duty to ask ourselves why after 14 years we are still there under attack, and draw on lessons from the past.  That's why in Paris we're marching together, not only with European leaders but also I would say with leaders from Italy, the Gulf, Africa.  That's why even on the day of the march in Paris, the 11th, we felt the need to look at the atrocities that Boko Haram was perpetrating to thousands of citizens in Nigeria. 

And that is why just yesterday in Brussels, together with all foreign ministers of the European Union, we met with the Secretary-General.  That's because we know this is not a fight between the West and Islam.  We know that the first victims of terror -- and because we know that that's what we need in order to face truly and effectively the terrorist threat in Europe and elsewhere in the world -- is an alliance, a partnership of civilization.  It's not easy, and it will not be easy at all, in Europe and outside Europe, but nothing in the world we're living in is easy, and everything is complex. 

We live in an age of unprecedented complexity.  The world is becoming at once more interconnected, more conflictual and more concentric.  It's a world in which power is infused in overlapping senses.  It's a complex world that requires a capacity to read, understand, and tackle it if we want to play a role.  I'm afraid the European Union has a unique role in this, managing complexity that surrounds us.  Seen from the outside, and I can say even from the inside, the European Union seems very complex itself.  These are institutions, the way we make decisions, our many cultural traditions and languages.  We are different.  We are complex.  And believe me, it is a real challenge and it can be a real nightmare.  And our duty is to make sure that we make European Union work in a more rational, quick, and also simple way. 

But that's also added value.  Over the years, we have learned to benefit from our different perspectives and we have built consensus around them.  Our differences don't make it impossible for us to work together and act united.  In the new world that we see emerging, I will not say new world order, the new world emerging, forging consensus and building partnership is essential.  It's a world where the West still has a significant power, but the power is not longer -- it can only been exercised in cooperation with others.  I'm convinced a partnership could be the bedrock of this if we learn our lesson and look ahead to the future of our role in the world.  Our bonds cannot rely only on our common past.  Now it's a moment to shape our common future if we want to shape a world order based on cooperation and respect instead of competition, and already in the events of the first weeks of this year shows us how urgent it is to address the challenges we face. 

From the conflict in Ukraine to Iraq and Syria, to the attacks in Paris to the carnage spread by Boko Haram, we need the trans-Atlantic partnership more than ever.  We need cooperation in a world that is more interconnected, than ever.  Human mobility and technology, it is expected to near 2 billion by 2016.  Migration is accelerating as a result of conflict, climate change, and economic deprivation.  Last year, 200,000 people migrants, mostly from Syria and the Horn of Africa, reached Europe through the central Mediterranean route, and beyond refugees and migrants, Europe like the United States and eventually China, will need to attract high skills workers to its aging continents if it wants to sustain current leading standards. 

Interconnection has its dark sides, too.  Think about terrorist networks and foreign fighters.  Think of the spread of global epidemics, ebola being the largest manifestation.  Technology adds to this for good and for bad.  Nowhere is this clearer than in the field of communications where social media provided an indispensable vehicle for the mass mobilisations of the Arab Spring.  And I would still refer to 'Arab Spring'- seasons sometimes take a longer time.  And for the recruitment and outreach of a plethora of terrorist groups.  Likewise, our world is becoming more conflictual and we see it every day.  Depleting natural resources coupled with a growing population with a large number of people in largely economically deprived areas sets the scene for greater competition in the world.  Food security and water remain a critical challenge in large parts of Africa and in the Middle East with the food price hike in 2011 being recognized as one of the triggers for the upheaval across the region. 

Technology couples with climate change creating new opportunities in the Arctic, which if not managed well, risks triggering conflict.  Security is another element of potential conflict.  While new discoveries and revolutions present an undeniable opportunity, breeding these opportunities will require upgraded cooperation in Europe and between Europe and its partners starting with the United States, as well as new investments in infrastructure and technology and redoubled efforts at addressing climate change.  Technological advancement has created the potential for greater conflict.  Think about cyberspace, which has become the new frontier of 21st century warfare. 

Finally, this is not the end of the speech, I'm sorry about that, our world is becoming increasingly concentric.  New powers are on the rise.  First and foremost, China.  The proliferation of emerging economy acronyms shows partnership.  The US and Europe alone no longer set the agenda in global affairs.  I guess we understood that by now, and yet we would not argue that power is shifting from the West to the rest.  I think this is simplistic.  It's inaccurate.  It is inaccurate because there are no alternative alliances, notwithstanding all the talks about that.  And it is inaccurate because the West is not in decline, as it is evident here on this side of the Atlantic looking at the US's impressive economic performance in the past years and the resilience of the European soldiers.  It's going through difficult times but still is the most successful regional integration experience.  And it is inaccurate because power is defusing behind structures, lying in government, regional, and international organizations, companies, societies, simple citizens.  The new world order we might see emerging is not, cannot be a zero sum game where increased influence for some necessarily means decreased influence for others.  It is a world where influence is, can be, should be shared.  This and the fact that the challenges we face are joint challenges sometimes global challenges, makes cooperation even more crucial. 

This brings me to our relationship.  It is a relationship that some maybe believe has passed the stage.  It is because of diverging demographics with an increasing Hispanic America and aging Middle Eastern Europe.  Be it because of partly diverging security terms with Europe focused on our neighborhood and US on the Asia Pacific, yet, the global challenges and opportunities we face are so complex, so difficult, that only a renewed trans-Atlantic partnership can face up to them.  We have a long history that makes it natural for us, for my generation in particular, but also for the previous one, to be friends, to be partners.  We share values, and that is the basis of our common cultural identity.  That is strong and no one can take that away from us.  That's in our DNA. 

Now, the two pillars of the renewed trans-Atlantic bond that I see are security and economy.  Supply and demand side forces the trans-Atlantic security cooperation, and we're slowly but surely expanding the new US cooperational security and defense.  On the supply side, US has made it clear that it expects its European partners to shoulder more of the security responsibility in our own neighbourhood, and no longer feels ill at ease with the development of European defense capabilities.  On the contrary, at the same time, the European Union is developing into a security provider with our 30 missions and operations to date focused mainly on institutional reforms and capacity building.  On the demand side, when NATO retains the responsibility for security, the European Union is taking on the lead in helping its members, neighbors, and partners and systems of good governance that will reduce corruption, and thereby have an ability to extend the civilization.  That requires time, but I think it's a good investment.  Risks have not only put a premium on the NATO cooperation, let me say that I was particularly proud and happy that in the very first day of my mandate, I was meeting with the NATO Secretary-General, we're starting the mandate together, and we're starting a very strong and close cooperation.  We have common challenges there, and even if the 28 members aren't overlapping completely, they're overlapping significantly. 

Beyond security, TTIP is the next frontier.  It's a win-win project aimed at creating more business opportunities, reducing costs, eliminating administrative burden, and in so doing, stimulating growth and creating jobs.  But it is much more than a free trade area.  It's going to create the largest free trade area in the world.  And by doing so, I think it will inject momentum into the development of global rules in areas which multilateral negotiations have stalled.  It can become a benchmark for the future trade agenda.  Let me be clear.  European Union is committed to an ambitious, mutually beneficial TTIP for the benefit of business and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.  And I think we have to use the opportunity ahead of us. 

I know I've been already far too long, and I'm sure it's typically European, so let me conclude by reviewing what this is in our view.  Cooperation begins along the arc of instability surrounding the European Union.  If you see the world map, the most, the high difficult places around the world are all around European Union.  Maybe we should ask ourselves a question.  On the European continent, the European Union and US are on the same line when it comes to the European perspective and reform priorities in the West and in turkey as well as in the Eastern partners, notably Georgia and Moldova. 

Of course, Ukraine is where cooperation is more urgent and intense as we struggle to see the full implementation of the agreement.  And we together pressure Russia through our sanctions policy.  With Russia we share the approach based on sanctions in view of Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea, and also in view of its role on the conflict in the East of Ukraine, while keeping the door open for dialogue, both on the solution of the conflict in Ukraine and on the common global challenges we face.  Together, we actively support Ukraine's reform efforts aimed at eradicating corruption, pursuing constitutional, judicial, electoral, energy sector reform, and I could go on. 

In the Mediterranean, multiple and interconnected places from Libya to the Sahel and Iraq, through Israel, Palestine, and Iran, all call for cooperation.  Neither the US nor Europe can settle this crisis alone.  And I think we both understand it very well.  Trans-Atlantic cooperation is imperative as is engagement with all relative regional and international powers that have an influence in the region.  We know that very well.  On some issues such as Iran, while the finer outcome remains uncertain, the trans-Atlantic format of the nuclear talks has already proved its strength, and we are jointly working towards a robust long-term solution that will guarantee the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.  While nuclear negotiations are entirely separate from other regional issues, I believe joint trans-Atlantic strategic thinking and action is crucial on Iran's regional role. 

On the Middle East peace process, the protracted deadlock should trigger collective, and first of all transatlantic, rethinking of our overall approach.  The increased predominance of regional actors and recent steps at UN security council on a resolution, and the Palestinian steps towards the ICC, all point towards a quite messy, if you allow me a little diplomatic word, conflict, and I think we cannot afford really the process or rather the lack of process with no framework, with no international framework.  In light of this, we should work on a possibly relaunched Quartet, which could act as a forum to establish a renewed consensus.  A sort of laboratory that could find concessions through the UN and make process not only restart but also bring some results. 

Beyond the European neighborhoods, let me focus on three final priorities for our cooperation.  First, trans-Atlantic cooperation on intelligence is essential.  It's crucial for security on both sides of the Atlantic, and the attacks in Paris I think are a tragic reminder of the links between external and internal security.  We need to share information more.  At the same time, our population on both sides of the Atlantic demand that public liberties and privacy are not unduly affected.  Indeed, an organic element of our own response to terrorists and violence must be that of living up to our values of freedom and respect of our citizens and others. 

Second, energy security.  We had last December an EU-US energy council that was an excellent opportunity to take stock of how far we have come and where we can move forward together.  And I think we should strengthen trans-Atlantic energy trade by removing buyers to our trades.  This would open new export markets for the US, for the producers, and help the European Union face the pressures from other suppliers.  On LNG export restrictions, while lifting would not immediately address European dependence on Russian gas, it would send the right signals to global markets and it would encourage further investment upstream and downstream.  By including existing chapter on energy and raw materials, we would reduce barriers to trade investments in the energy sector and rules on transfer on renewables. 

Third and last point, energy should bring us to climate policy.  It is essential that European Union and the US partner in order to deliver an effective deal in Paris later this year.  Trans-Atlantic positions have now aligned as they have never, never done before in history.  Our challenge is that of transforming this shared sense of purpose into a joint EU/US leadership to take forward a solution that can fit the challenge.  There is also mutual EU/US responsibility on the agenda this year, ending extreme poverty and achieving sustainment development alongside averting dangerous climate change and challenges of my generation.  EU and US leadership is driving an agreement in the UN general assembly for an ambitious set of targets for the framework, would also send a very strong sign in support of effective multilateralism, and that would also be a sign that we have learned some of our lessons when it comes to the coherence of our choices and our policy. 

To conclude, at a time of unprecedented uncertainty, our collective joint responsibility is that of trying to take this as an opportunity to finally lead the endless transition that my generation has been living, towards a real new global order.  At such complex times, I understand it might seem naive even to say so, yet the alternative is not sustainable for all.  And the only way in which we can realistically think to achieve this is by working together.  Trans-Atlantic partnership has already broken a world record.  The longest lasting and strongest partnership in history.  Our challenge is that of collectively together breaking a new record, insuring that the shift from the actual global disorder to a new global order based on cooperation and partnership will be not only successful but also a peaceful one.  Thank you very much.

Audio:  http://www.brookings.edu/events/2015/01/20-transatlantic-bond-federica-mogherini

 

 

 

Federica Mogherini @Brookings Institute - "The Transatlantic Bond in an Age of Complexity"

 

 

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