By Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Vice-President of the European Commission.
Note: The following text is FOREWORD to ‘A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’ presented to EU leaders meeting in Brussels at the EU summit on 28 June 2016. Read the full Strategy here.
BRUSSELS - The purpose, even existence, of our Union is being questioned. Yet, our citizens and the world need a strong European Union like never before. Our wider region has become more unstable and more insecure. The crises within and beyond our borders are affecting directly our citizens’ lives. In challenging times, a strong Union is one that thinks strategically, shares a vision and acts together.
This is even more true after the British referendum. We will indeed have to rethink the way our Union works, but we perfectly know what to work for. We know what our principles, our interests and our priorities are. This is no time for uncertainty: our Union needs a Strategy. We need a shared vision, and common action.
None of our countries has the strength nor the resources to address these threats and seize the opportunities of our time alone. But as a Union of almost half a billion citizens, our potential is unparalleled.
Our diplomatic network runs wide and deep in all corners of the globe. Economically, we are in the world’s G3. We are the first trading partner and the first foreign investor for almost every country in the globe. Together we invest more in development cooperation than the rest of the world combined.
It is also clear, though, that we are not making full use of this potential yet. A vast majority of our citizens understands that we need to collectively take responsibility for our role in the world. And wherever I travel, our partners expect the European Union to play a major role, including as a global security provider. We will deliver on our citizens’ needs and make our partnerships work only if we act together, united. This is exactly the aim of the Global Strategy for European Foreign and Security Policy.
“Global” is not just intended in a geographical sense: it also refers to the wide array of policies and instruments the Strategy promotes. It focuses on military capabilities and anti-terrorism as much as on job opportunities, inclusive societies and human rights. It deals with peace-building and the resilience of States and societies, in and around Europe.
The European Union has always prided itself on its soft power – and it will keep doing so, because we are the best in this field. However, the idea that Europe is an exclusively “civilian power” does not do justice to an evolving reality.
For instance, the European Union currently deploys seventeen military and civilian operations, with thousands of men and women serving under the European flag for peace and security – our own security, and our partners’. For Europe, soft and hard power go hand in hand.
The Strategy nurtures the ambition of strategic autonomy for the European Union. This is necessary to promote the common interests of our citizens, as well as our principles and values. Yet we know that such priorities are best served when we are not alone. And they are best served in an international system based on rules and on multilateralism.
This is no time for global policemen and lone warriors. Our foreign and security policy has to handle global pressures and local dynamics, it has to cope with super-powers as well as with increasingly fractured identities.
Our Union will work to strengthen our partners: We will keep deepening the transatlantic bond and our partnership with NATO, while we will also connect to new players and explore new formats. We will invest in regional orders, and in cooperation among and within regions. And we will promote reformed global governance, one that can meet the challenges of this 21st century.
We will engage in a practical and principled way, sharing global responsibilities with our partners and contributing to their strengths. We have learnt the lesson: my neighbour’s and my partner’s weaknesses are my own weaknesses. So we will invest in win-win solutions, and move beyond the illusion that international politics can be a zero-sum game.
All of this will make each of our Member States – and each citizen of our Union – better off. All these goals can only be achieved by a truly united and committed Europe. Joining all our cultures together to achieve our shared goals and serve our common interests is a daily challenge, but it is also our greatest strength: diversity is what makes us strong.
Yes, our interests are indeed common European interests: the only way to serve them is by common means. This is why we have a collective responsibility to make our Union a stronger Union. The people of Europe need unity of purpose among our Member States, and unity in action across our policies.
A fragile world calls for a more confident and responsible European Union, it calls for an outward- and forward-looking European foreign and security policy.
This Global Strategy will guide us in our daily work towards a Union that truly meets its citizens’ needs, hopes and aspirations; a Union that builds on the success of 70 years of peace; a Union with the strength to contribute to peace and security in our region and in the whole world. [IDN-InDepthNews – 2 July 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: High Representative Federica Mogherini. Credit: eeas.europa.eu