In a new world order where “power relations” prevail, guaranteeing Ukraine’s victory in the war it is waging to defend itself from the Russian invasion is “the number one challenge of the European Union’s foreign and security policy,” he said. The head of European diplomacy was assured this Wednesday in the French city of Strasbourg. Josep Borrell then listed a second challenge for Brussels: “Recalibrate relations with China”, a country that, as he has announced, he will visit in mid-October, after postponing the trip twice (in April due to the politician’s positive Covid European Union and later, in July, by the sudden dismissal of the Chinese Foreign Minister, Qin Gang). This change in the relations of the European Union with the Asian giant must be made respecting “the values of the EU”, the high representative of Foreign and Security Policy has clarified.
Although achieving a “just peace” in Ukraine tops the list of EU foreign policy objectives; Borrell points out other key challenges, such as the expansion of the Union to the east – Ukraine and Moldova have been official candidates since June – or common investment in Defense. Thus, up to eight key points, which the politician has condensed before a group of media, including EL PAÍS, invited by the European Parliament. “Getting Ukraine to win the war is not a priority, but the priority for the EU,” Borrell stressed. Brussels’ objective is to put an end to Russia’s intention to “politically and territorially” control that country, whose large-scale invasion was undertaken by Russian forces on February 24, 2022.
The end of the war requires, however, a “just peace” that is not “that of the defeated,” the high representative has asserted. He thus responded to the question of the possibility of a negotiation that would end the conflict. There is an invading country, Borrell recalled, and another “that is defending its territorial integrity.”
The future accession of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia – which is not yet an official candidate – and the Balkan countries – Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, “which have been waiting for ten years ” to enter― cannot end up becoming “hollow promises,” the politician said. In his opinion, the risk is that if that accession does not materialize—or is delayed too long—“Russia will take advantage of it.” Enlargement, another of the challenges on Borrell’s list, imposes the need to “reform the procedures” of the EU to replace the unanimous decision-making of the 27 member states with qualified majority voting.
The war conflict in Ukraine is also the background for another of the challenges of European diplomacy: “coordinated and collective” investment in Defense. “Europe had experienced a silent process of disarmament until the Russian invasion of (the Ukrainian peninsula of) Crimea. Since 2014, that investment began to increase and is now increasing a lot. We must invest in a coordinated manner in Defense. In Europe, we have 27 armies; Many are bonsai armies, which have to act more coordinated. That objective is more difficult than building the euro,” stated the EU representative.
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The long shadow of Russia
Borrell talks about the need to “rethink the concept of European security” in the face of realities such as the war in Ukraine, hybrid attacks – among which he mentioned “the recruitment of migrants in Iraq by Belarus to launch them against the Polish border”, or technological threats: ”Everything now has a security dimension,” he argued.
One of Brussels’ key foreign relations approaches, which consisted of maintaining “trade relations and (promoting) human rights,” has given way to a “suffocating need to engage in confrontational policies, something the EU does not want.” ”. The high representative of foreign policy of the EU has not spoken of confrontation when referring to China, but has insisted that it is necessary to “recalibrate the relations” of the Union with the Asian giant, without breaking bridges with that country. The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had defended that same argument in the morning, during her speech at the State of the Union debate, held this Wednesday.
“With China we have a big problem, the imbalance of an impressive trade deficit, which has gone from 140,000 million euros in 2016 to 400,000 million in 2022,” said Borrell. The high representative then mentioned as another pending task for the EU, “managing the expectations of emerging powers” such as the BRICS group of countries, which recently announced its expansion to include Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates , Ethiopia, Egypt and Argentina.
The push “for the EU’s commitment to ensure stability in the Sahel”, a region over which Russia plans influence through its foreign policy and the mercenaries of the Russian Wagner group, and the need to “ensure compliance of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda (the UN roadmap for sustainable development) are the last two objectives of Brussels’ future foreign and security policy stated this Wednesday by the head of its diplomacy.
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