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I was glad to participate on 9 July in a panel of renowned international affairs pundits from all continents, organised by our EU ISS and Carnegie, to discuss how we can navigate the pandemic world together.

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.

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.

On 23 June I had the opportunity to speak before the Parliamentary Committee for the Economic and Social Reconstruction of Spain after the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Congress of Deputies. It was a great honour to appear in Spain’s parliament for the first time since my appointment as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In Europe, discussions are under way on an ambitious recovery plan to deal with the consequences of the major economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Following the joint proposal by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the EUR 750 billion of additional expenditure proposed by the Commission should be financed through the issuing of debt instruments on the financial markets.

Rising international tensions and conflicts at the doorstep of Europe urge us to take our collective security into our own hands. Lately, four major Member States advocated making security and defence a top priority for the Union. I fully agree: since the beginning of the mandate of this Commission, we have placed our Common Security and Defence Policy at the very heart of the EU’s external policy. And while we have a long way to go, there is now an increased momentum to strengthen our collective capacity for action.

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”.

Last Monday, Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), participated at our videoconference with EU Development Ministers. He took the opportunity to discuss the Covid-19 epidemic and the role played by the WHO.
He also assessed the current state of this pandemic. And it was quite alarming: although Covid-19 seems to be under control in Europe thanks to the large-scale measures taken by the Member States and the Union, this is not yet the case in the rest of the world. With 130,600 new cases detected worldwide on 5 June this year, a new record was set that very day. The situation continues to deteriorate on the American continent, and especially in South America, Dr. Tedros told us.

Ukraine is a priority partner for the European Union (EU). The EU supports Ukraine in ensuring a stable, prosperous and democratic future for its citizens and is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s ndependence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Association Agreement (AA), including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) signed in 2014, is the main tool for bringing Ukraine and the EU closer together, promoting deeper political ties, stronger economic links and respect for common values. Ukraine continues an ambitious reform programme to accelerate economic growth and improve the livelihoods of its citizens. Priority reforms include the fight against corruption, reform of the judiciary, constitutional and electoral reforms, improvement of the business climate and energy efficiency, as well as reform of public administration and decentralisation. Since 2014, the EU and the Financial Institutions have
mobilised more than €15 billion in grants and loans to support the reform process, with strong conditionality on continued progress.

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