We need to build a common strategic culture in Europe. If we agree more on how we see the world and the challenges it contains, it will be easier to agree on what to do about them. Given our different histories, this will take time. It requires many discussions among all involved in the shaping of Europe’s foreign policy, both in Brussels and capitals. We need to understand where each of us is coming from; what worries people and why; but also what we have in common.
In the almost ten years since civil war began in Syria, I have followed closely its appalling developments and the horrors that the Syrian people have gone through. I come from a country that went through a civil war and perfectly know how it divides and destroys a society.
More than 12 million Syrians, half of the pre-war population, had to flee their homes. Over half a million have lost their lives. An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war. As Europeans, we have collectively been unable to stop these massacres at the gates of our continent. When we pursue our efforts to build a stronger Common Foreign and Security Policy for the EU, I often think of Syria and what we could have done there.
Making sure that a democratic transition succeeds is never easy, even at the best of times. Last year, Sudan embarked on a journey towards democracy, with the country’s youth and women paving the way. They wanted a better future for their country, after many years of dictatorship, abuses, mismanagement and corruption.
The Council today adopted conclusions on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the EU energy sector. Above all, the Council expresses its appreciation for staff in the energy sector for their dedicated and effective efforts to ensure the continuous operation of the European energy system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tomorrow, European leaders will discuss the proposal for a new EU budget, also known in our jargon as the “multiannual financial framework (MFF)” for the years 2021-2027. Adding the 750 billion euros of the Next Generation EU instrument makes a considerable change from the initial draft budget presented by the Commission back in 2019.
The coronavirus crisis is creating a more competitive global environment, with confrontation growing faster than cooperation. As EU, we face rougher seas and risk getting caught in the cross-currents of major powers telling us to “pick a side”.
Biodiversity is the root of all life, both on land and below water. It has an impact on human health, providing the air that we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, natural disease resistance, medicines, as well as climate change mitigation. The emergence of COVID-19 has proved that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. Nature is sending us a message. Aptly, this year’s theme for World Environment Day is biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential. Protecting nature and reversing degradation to ecosystems is at the heart of the EU Green Deal and is the rationale for the new EU biodiversity strategy for 2030.
If there is one thing that 27 EU member states agree on it is that we all believe in rules-based multilateralism. We repeat, almost mantra like, that we want a strong UN as the beating heart of the multilateral system. The Security Council is the world’s highest multilateral authority and it has the last word on matters of peace and security. I was very pleased to address the Security Council on the EU-UN cooperation (see here) and to express the EU’s strong support for the UN’s work, with concrete contributions in many areas and especially on peace and security.
The European Commission adopted a comprehensive new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The two strategies are mutually reinforcing, bringing together nature, farmers, business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future.