Check against delivery!
Mr President, dear Members, dear colleagues of the European Parliament,
Thank you for organising a very quick debate and exchange of views on the results of the United States elections. I am glad to see that you give to this event all the importance it has and to have a look at the future of our partnership with the United States. It is an important thing, a priority for our future engagement and our future foreign policy.
Unfortunately, we will not have a lot of time today to discuss, but I am sure that we will have other opportunities to come back soon on this issue and study deeply our transatlantic relationship.
Indeed, last week the whole world was following with a lot of attention and suspense the elections in the United States. And, I want to congratulate American people for the largest participation in the United States electoral history. It clearly shows that American citizens were very much aware of the importance of this election. Americans demonstrated the importance and capacity of democratic institutions and civic engagement.
And, of course, I want to warmly congratulate President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice-President-elect, Kamala Harris, for their historic victory.
We are now looking at the opportunities to advance our strategic partnership. This morning, at the College, the Commission had a first approach to this opportunity and [discussed] how we are going to manage this new era or relationship with the United States. All Commissioners participated in this debate and I am happy that the Parliament also wants to advance a first approach to this issue.
I do not have to explain that we have had a very significant bilateral relationship globally [with the United States]. We have a common history, shared values and we adhere to democratic principles. This partnership reflects how we go across all economic fields, underpinned by a wide cooperation.
It is no secret either that in the past four years, things have become complicated in our relations. I am looking forward to getting back to a frank dialogue – well, the dialogue has always been frank - and, whenever possible, to formulating strategies and putting the necessary resources to make them possible.
First of all, I think that we have to welcome the clear commitment of President-elect Biden to restore unity and respect for democratic norms and institutions and to work with allies based on true partnership.
We are a partner and a capable and strategic approach to the European Union – United States relationship has to be built on this idea of partnership. For this reason, we have to proceed with our work to enhance what we call Europe’s strategic autonomy. A word that will be very much used – I hope - in the next future, because this means our ability to act and to defend ourselves effectively and, at the same time, to work together with the United States in many frameworks – defense frameworks and others.
Let me give a quick look at the wide spectrum of global challenges that will be at the heart of our transatlantic agenda. There are some priorities that I want to highlight: to reenergize the cooperation in the multilateral fora, in particular in the United Nations; to continue working in promoting the full respect of human rights; to address the difficulties in the World Trade Organization, especially the dispute settlement mechanism; to cooperate in fighting the Covid-19, including strengthening the working of the World Health Organization and the capacity of the global health system, starting with preparedness and response to emergencies; to accelerate ambitious global climate action and to invest in harnessing the technological transformation; to look at China, Iran and our Neighbourhood, and we will try to reach a common approach with the United States – we already started, with the previous administration, in the last weeks, but for sure, now it is going to be, I hope, easier. We also need to become a stronger global player, for a stronger transatlantic partnership benefitting the NATO.
It is a busy agenda and our capacity for developing this strategic partnership will be more effective if both partners are strong and committed and, of course, if here in Europe we speak with one voice when we engage with the new President, the new administration and the new Congress.
We need to invest at all levels and talk to our American friends across the aisles. For sure, the European Parliament has and will also have an important role to play through the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue, and other contacts. From our end, we will also step up people-to-people programmes, a priority that was supported by this Parliament as well and I hope it will continue.
All in all, the European Union and the United States are and will remain key strategic partners of first resort in critically difficult moments, like the ones that we are living, a strong transatlantic partnership is of key importance and you can be assured that we are ready to engage fast with the new administration, but for that we still have to wait until 20 January. Because, as you know very well, there is quite a long transition ahead, let us hope it is not going to be a bumping transition.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-198428