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.
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.