It is my pleasure to be with you to mark 10 years of successfully turning EU foreign policy into action.
The list of achievements during these 10 years is impressive. I want to congratulate all staff and Tung-Lai Margue and Hilde Hardeman for leading the young but dynamic Service.
FPI is a central part of the overall ‘system’ that, together with the EEAS, the other Commission services and of course the member states, delivers the EU’s foreign policy on the ground.
I would like to highlight some of the success stories of these ten years before looking to the future.
In Ukraine, FPI’s support through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace has been essential to set up and implement effective OSCE monitoring. And to help protect the integrity of the last Presidential elections through cyber security assistance.
In the Sahel, FPI has worked alongside other EU actors to improve relations between populations and security actors, including capacity building.
I know there are striking pictures of FARC members playing football with Colombian military counterparts, taking a break from their joint demining work. And indeed there was an EU-led mediation process leading to a peace agreement which FPI is now helping to implement.
Just to give one example: in Libya, FPI’s financial support played a crucial role in facilitating the Montreux Agreement, which paved the way for the October 2020 ceasefire agreement. When it came, it seemed to come out of nowhere, but in fact many years of cooperation between the EEAS and FPI brought us to this agreement.
Or in South Sudan and Nigeria humanitarian pauses and ceasefires were achieved through FPI funded mediation support projects.
FPI pioneered the approach of putting the EU’s own interest first working with important stakeholders around the globe under the Partnership Instrument. This led to good results, influencing policymaking and brining standard setting closer to EU policies, from climate change to data protection or artificial intelligence.
This approach has now found its way into other areas of EU external action. The new instrument to finance EU external action, NDICI, and the launch of ‘Team Europe ‘initiatives both take this approach forward.
NDICI is a major opportunity for the EU to act in a more joined-up manner. It will be important to ensure that the two services under my direction as HRVP – the EEAS and FPI – work closely together to better link policy and instruments.
Covid-19 has changed the way we work. But even if do a lot online, much of our work cannot be done from a distance. We need to be present on the ground. Let me give you one example of EU’s on the ground achievements that is especially close to my heart. The Election Observation Missions:
In September 2020, an expert mission was deployed to Bolivia, when Latin America was struggling with Covid-19 like much of the rest of the world. The pandemic was not the only problem: there was an uncertain security situation after the disputed 2019 election.
Together with the EEAS, FPI helped setting up a difficult election observation mission. This required innovation, resilience and determination. Democracy is always fragile. We need exactly this kind of action to support a free and democratic world even in the face of difficult overall circumstances.
What will the future hold for FPI?
10 years ago, the EEAS and FPI were created at the same time under the responsibility of the HR/VP.
FPI is in a unique position: a Commission Service working hand in hand with the EEAS and in EU Delegations, under the authority of the HR/VP. This makes you central in ensuring that external actions implemented by FPI are coherent with the EU foreign and security policies.
The new European Peace Facility will help us to contribute better to conflict management. FPI has helped in the creation of the European Peace Facility and will take up its financial responsibility to help it deliver. In addition, FPI will enhance from 2021 the EU’s capacity to act on global threats.
All this will help you support our work on EU Strategic Autonomy which as everyone knows is a major priority, along with revitalizing multilateralism.
When it comes to key partnerships, let me briefly mention that
To sum up:
Both the EEAS and other Commission Services benefit from your capacity to respond fast and flexibly to international events.
The same goes for building partnerships. Your experience with international partners and building alliances will play an important role in ‘making multilateralism as great as it has always been’ and shaping a global order that works for all.
So let me thank you for your hard work and wish you every success in a new decade of turning EU foreign policy into action!