At a low key but dignified ceremony held in the EUMS premises on 30 Jun 2020, Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean (FR) assumed command of the EU Military Staff and the Military Planning Conduct Capability from his predecessor Lieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen (FI). Normally such an occasion would be marked by a formal public military parade with many distinguished guests and military bands but owing to COVID-19 today's event was minimalist in terms of pomp and ceremony but no less important for that.
The ‘Global Goal: Unite for our Future'pledging summit organised today by the European Commission and Global Citizen mobilised €6.15 billion in additional funding to help develop and ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments. The money raised will also support economic recovery in the world's most fragile regions and communities.
President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new pledge of €4.9 billion by Team Europe, with the European Investment Bank, for universal access to coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments. Read the transcript of her first statements during the ‘Global Goal: Unite for our Future' Summit.
In 2019, I visited as Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs the Simon Bolivar bridge, a 300 metres long bridge spanning Venezuela and Colombia. The bridge is named after the Venezuelan statesman and it was until the Venezuelan economic crisis a popular crossing point for citizens to shop across the border. Today, the bridge is a point where many Venezuelan refugees start the journey to look for a better future. At the time, I could witness the dire situations that many Venezuelans migrants and refugees are escaping from and the risks and misery they face. 5 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have by now sought safety and new opportunities across the world, mostly in neighbouring countries. During my visit, I was already appointed as EU High Representative and was committed to organise European and international support for the refuges and migrants. The visit at the crossing over the Táchira River confirmed how badly this is needed.
The coronavirus pandemic will very likely deteriorate our security environment in the years to come, increasing the need for a stronger European Union security and defence policy, and for a stronger Union in the world.
High Representative Josep Borrell tasked the European External Action Service to set up a dedicated task force to temporarily support and facilitate information exchange on national military assistance in support of civilian authorities to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. This is a concrete follow-up of the video conference of Defence Ministers of the EU member States on 6 April.
This is one of the most important international partnerships that we are going to build. That is why we are here, the two of us together [with Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen], to stress the fact that this joint communication is an important first step towards a new partnership with Africa. From now on, we need to engage with our African partners on establishing joint priorities.
Q. What is the Foreign Policy point of view on the budget?
The budget from the point of view of security and defence is lacking ambition. It is not at the level of the ambition that we are claiming that we want to do. If you want to be a player, you have to pay a price. We need more defence, security, building capacities, being present in the world. We live in a dangerous world, the European Union has to be more present and this requires resources. So let us see what the discussion will bring.