UNGA: Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP plenary debate

(Source: EEAS)

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Ms President, Honourable Members,

Let us have our last debate today with a little more of a positive perspective. Because talking about multilateralism is a good thing and I am happy that this report is being presented today to the European Parliament.

En febrero de este año, junto con la Comisión, presenté una comunicación conjunta que demuestra el compromiso de la Unión Europea con el multilateralismo y presenta un análisis de cómo podemos desde la Unión Europea contribuir a un orden global basado en reglas comunes y actualiza nuestra visión teniendo en cuenta la magnitud de los grandes problemas globales a los que hacemos frente, además en un contexto geopolítico más difícil.

This updated policy was born out of our conviction that a values-based and rules-based multilateralism is absolutely necessary if we want to effectively confront global challenges – as I said -, be it pandemics, climate change or terrorism. It is also clear that a stronger European Union both strengthens this multilateral system and serves our own interests.

I am happy to see that your draft report reinforces these key messages and the messages of our Joint Communication and that our political priorities are fully synchronised, in general and as regards the priorities of the United Nations General Assembly.

Your report underlines the need for multilateral cooperation centred on the United Nations, and the importance of upholding human rights, universal values and the rule of law, which underpin the multilateral system.

Those values lie at the centre of the European Union’s external action and our work across the United Nations system: from the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, to the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the many specialised United Nations agencies and programmes, which are so often vital for the European Union in norm-setting and project implementation.

On the next 10th of June, I will speak up for those values – and for the need for multilateralism – in my annual address to the United Nations Security Council. As you know the High Representative represents the European Union in front of the international bodies and, in particular, in front of the United Nations Security Council and it is my privilege to address this body. And in this address I will call for a Security Council that fulfils its responsibility to address conflict, protect civilians and uphold international law effectively.

The emphasis that you put on partnerships is also very welcome.

We must be ambitious and broad in our partnerships, including also with countries that, despite our very different views in important areas, we need to have on board to fight, for example, climate change, or to bring peace and stability to certain region. The fact that we do not share the same political system with many different countries in the world should not prevent us from partnering with them in order to face our common challenges.

And, from this point of view, I have to celebrate the re-engagement of the US in multilateral organisations. I welcome very much this re-engagement. We are working to rebuild our historically good cooperation with the US and to strengthen our cooperation with other like-minded partners. And soon we are going to have a summit with the new US administration and I think it is going to be also a landmark of this reengagement with the US. Because, only through collective efforts and leadership can we defend the multilateral order against some actors’ attempts to undermine the basic principles of international law and human rights. And you also rightly refer to this in your report.

We will be discussing such cooperation as I said, at the forthcoming European Union-US summit, and also at the summit with Canada. The wide spectrum of matters in the agenda will of course include a particular emphasis on COVID-19 and the recovery, protecting our planet and building a more democratic, peaceful and secure world. Your report contributes to all these objectives and I praise you for that.

Dear Members,

I note your call for close cooperation with regional organisations. This was also an important dimension of our Joint Communication on Multilateralism. We are working to organise an EU-African Union summit as soon as the pandemic allows it.

Unhappily, the pandemic has created a one-year delay to hold this summit.

I have just come back from Indonesia, where I had meetings with the ASEAN in order to reinforce our relations with this very important regional organisation, as proof of the attention that we have to pay to this important strategic partner and the rollout of the European Union’s Indo-Pacific strategy [EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific].

We already have this Indo-Pacific strategy and this is a way of projecting ourselves, reengaging more and reaching out better with such group of important countries, which are responsible today for 60% of the world GDP.

At the same time, we need to leverage our financial, diplomatic, commercial and technological strengths, to defend our interests and values, forcefully and successfully. This also means taking a more strategic approach to the election of leadership posts in multilateral organisations.

Sometimes, we are not united enough in order to be able to get some of these important posts. And, recently, there have been a couple of elections in which we – Europeans – have not shown enough unity. We are working with Member States to encourage a greater coordination. The least we can say: we need greater coordination on the international fora.

And, finally, let me inform you that the Foreign Affairs Council will soon adopt Conclusions on our priorities for the forthcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly. I take note of the recommendations in your report. It provides a timely political input for finalising this work and for the implementation of the Joint Communication on multilateralism.

I am happy to see that the High Representative, the European Commission, the [European] Council and the [European] Parliament work together on the same approach and with the same perspective in order to influence the world and to implement this effective multilateralism, you have been asking in your report.

Thank you.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-206973

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