DISCURSOS
Intervención del ministro en su comparecencia ante la Comisión de Asuntos Exteriores del Parlamento Europeo
07/10/2019
 

Honourable Chair, dear Members, 

I am happy to be back in the European Parliament. Honoured and humbled by the magnitude of the responsibilities I will face if I get your support. 

I fully recognise the vital contribution of the EP in shaping European foreign policy and the added value of parliamentary diplomacy, as you did in Ukraine. 

One of my main responsibilities will be to inform, consult and ensure your views are taken into account. A strong EU foreign policy requires strong democratic support. 

For reasons of time, my opening statement will have a conceptual rather than a geographic approach. 

But let me stress from the beginning my intention to engage on the reform and integration process in the Western Balkans. 

Support democracy and territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

Address the challenges in our Southern neighbourhood. 

Developing a new comprehensive strategy for Africa. 2 

Working out a politically rounded strategy in and with Asia. 

Stepping up cooperation with Latin America. 

And ìresettingî Transatlantic relations, as I discussed with Secretary of State Pompeo the last time we met. 

I am happy to discuss all this, and also how we can work together for democracy and human rights, in these very challenging times. 

First, let me set out my overall vision. 

Mr Chair, dear Members, 

We will soon be celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was the triumph of freedom, enabling the reunification of Germany and Europe in peace and democracy. 

But it also brought key strategic challenges. Most of them were addressed with new European policies such as enlargement, the euro and a common foreign and security policy. 

That was also the spirit during my time in this House. But the world has dramatically changed since then. For the worse.  

Now, we face trade wars, climate change, refugee crises, instability in our neighbourhood and hybrid threats. 

The rules-based international order is being challenged by a logic of power politics, which is more unfair, unpredictable and conflict-prone. 

Power politics means that International Law is undermined. There are fewer agreements and more vetoes. The territorial integrity of sovereign States is being violated as the war in Ukraine demonstrates. 

The non-proliferation and disarmament system is threatened. Arms embargoes are broken in Libya and elsewhere. 

But power politics also means that trade, technology and finance are used as tools of international competition. They become political weapons. 

There is uncertainty over the international role of the US. There are new threats coming from the East. And China is as much a systemic rival as an economic opportunity and partner on global issues. 

Around us, we have a fragile neighbourhood and the demographic dynamism of Africa. In Latin America, an ally on multilateralism, some countries are facing threats to democracy and security. 

Dear members,  

This is not the world the European Union wanted. But I am convinced we have what it takes to face this challenging environment. 

We are the best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion. We have the resources, the support of our population and strong institutions. We need to build on this. 

This is how I read the political guidelines of President-elect Von der Leyen, who has defined this Commission as a geopolitical Commission and asked me to work for a stronger Europe in the world. 

Dear Members, 

What do we have to do? 

We should pool our national sovereignties together to multiply the power of individual Member States. 

I am convinced that either we act together, or Europe will become irrelevant. 

To pool national sovereignties is a political decision, easier to proclaim than to achieve. But as my old friend Jacques Delors said: ìwe must reconcile Sunday speeches with Monday actionsî. 
 
For that, we need a truly integrated foreign policy that combines the power of member-states, acting together in the Council, with all policies managed by the Commission and the democratic legitimacy of this House. 

This was the big promise of the Lisbon Treaty. 

If I am confirmed, the heart of my work as both High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission will be to bridge the foreign policy of the Member States and the external action of the Commission. 

Geopolitics, one could say, begins at home. Why? 

First, because to be geopolitically relevant we need unity. I will work with all Member States, big and small, to achieve this unity. 

Second, geopolitics begins at home because we need coherence between internal and external policies. 

We have the instruments to play power politics. The challenge is to put them together at the service of one strategy. 

We are a key normative power in setting world-wide rules and standards. We have a powerful common trade policy. 

The EU has been a true leader in shaping the 2030 Agenda, which represents the new global consensus on building sustainable economies and societies. 

The EU budget, together with those of Member States makes us a financial super-power. Our diplomatic capacity is among the strongest in the world. 

We should also reinforce the euroís international role and further our military capacity to act. To sum up, the European Union has to learn to use the language of power. 

We often say: partnerships and multilateralism are in our collective DNA. But you cannot be multilateralist alone. So we need partners. But some are disengaging from the rules-based system and others are applying the rules in selective ways. 

Europe has to position itself amid growing US-China strategic competition. We have to back rules-based multilateralism and promote our own approach, avoiding being squeezed between the two of them. 

We are and will remain allies of the US. But we have legitimate concerns about unilateral moves that go against decades of cooperative multilateralism. 

The rules-based global system can and should be reformed - but not abandoned. 

We welcome positive Chinese moves on climate change and on the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

But we expect China to work within the rules of the system. Reciprocity and level playing field must be the basic principles of our relationship, for instance on trade, investment and connectivity. 

Mr Chairman, Dear Members 

European citizens say that the two biggest challenges we face are climate change and migration. Both are geopolitical challenges because we cannot solve them alone. 

Even if the we become carbon neutral by 2050 (twenty fifty), the European Green Deal will have to help others move in the same direction. 

Climate change poses big problems of redistribution, inside the EU and beyond. Climate change is also a driver of instability and migratory pressures that we will have face both at home and abroad. 

Migration and asylum have profound geopolitical implications. The humanitarian tragedy of the Syrian war created the 2015 spike in asylum seekers. 

But migration is a structural issue. It requires border control, but mainly a true partnership with origin and transit countries, mainly from Africa.  

In the not-so-distant-future, Africa will have over one billion people more. Do not look at that only through the eyes of migration. It is also an opportunity. 

But we need a comprehensive strategy that integrates trade, investment, security with education, women¥s empowerment and mobility altogether. We need to think big and creatively, developing a common strategic vision. 

Finally, on people coming to our coasts, we need to implement an asylum policy consistent with our principles and obligations. We simply cannot renounce who we are every time a crisis, big or small, hits. 

Dear Members, 

Let's talk about security and defence. Our strength lies in our ability to link diplomacy, mediation, crisis management and the internal and external aspects of security. 

This is the European way of promoting peace. No international organisation has this ëfull spectrumí capability. 

I intend to make full use of my right of initiative as High Representative, attending the meetings of European Council, and my role as Vice-President of the Commission to put real weight behind our international engagement. 

We face hybrid threats, including disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks that jeopardise our democracies. I am conscious of the gravity of these threats and will advance on-going work. 

Defence is part of our security and sometimes threats start far away from our own borders. We have recently put in place instruments to develop more usable defence capabilities. 

Member-States are deploying 35,000 women and men world-wide, in different types of international missions. Thatís already impressive. But we have to do more. 

Member States' estimated military spending in 2018 was 260 billion euros, roughly, half the GDP of Belgium. More than China. Much more than Russia. Second only to the United States. 

But our expenditure is inefficient because of duplication and fragmentation. We spend 40% of what the US does, for a fraction of its deployable capabilities. 

We certainly have to spend better. With a clearer idea of our strategic priorities. And spend together, in collaborative projects. 

The EU has to be more operational on the ground. We have to be ready to commit and deploy forces, starting with our neighbourhood.  

Twenty years after, where are we on the ambitious Helsinki Headline Goal, to be able to rapidly deploy 60.000 troops? The EU must be able to act, decisively, in conflicts where our security is at stake. This is what geostrategic actors do. 

Let's be clear. NATO is and will remain the cornerstone of collective defence for most Member States. But by developing European defence, the EU will be reinforcing the Atlantic Alliance. 

We must be ready to promote our security beyond our borders, if the Alliance is not involved. And by carrying more weight in NATO we will contribute to a more balanced transatlantic relationship. 

You have heard all these arguments about a European defence policy before. I know. But I am not sure the sense of urgency was the same as today. 

Monsieur le Prèsident, chers dèputès, 

Pour rèsumer. 

Plutòt que díÍtre le troisiËme pilier d'un G3 de rivalitè stratègique, nous devrions viser une Europe capable de se dèfendre elle-mÍme tout en oeuvrant pour un ordre mondial multilatèral pacifique, dans le respect des droits de l'homme, poursuivant les objectifs de dèveloppement durable.  

Chers dèputès,

C'ètait là mon sermon dominical. Ou plutòt mon discours du lundi, car je tiens sincèrement à passer de la parole à l'action si vous me donnez votre confiance. 

Merci pour votre attention.
​​

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