David McAllister: Plenary speech on the CFSP report
19 January 2021
The year 2020 was in many ways unprecedented for all of us. The Covid-19 pandemic has had and continues to have severe economic, social, political and – also – geopolitical consequences. They will inevitably affect key aspects of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The last year has reminded us: the European security environment is today more volatile, more unpredictable, more complex and more ambiguous than at any time since the end of the Cold War.
Potential threats have become reality in the wake of the global pandemic:
- democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms are deteriorating in many parts of the world;
- disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks have increased;
- isolationist trends and competition between major international actors, are on the rise.
With this year’s annual report on our Common Foreign and Security Policy, we have identified the major issues our European Union is facing and outline a possible way forward.
Let me underline the three main findings of my annual CFSP report:
1. The EU should position itself as a “partner of choice” in a changing geopolitical order.
We are living in a weakened global system, where multilateralism is being heavily attacked. It is essential to quickly adapt and adjust our EU response to this new geopolitical reality.
The European Union is a “partner of choice” for third parties, guided by the promotion of democracy and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are a reliable actor and mediator in conflict resolution, but also a leader in promoting multilateral frameworks.
However, to often the European Union was and is divided, lacking the necessary weight and credibility to have a decisive impact on geopolitical developments.
2. A new level of ambition is required to shape the CFSP.
What the European Union needs first and foremost is a genuine political will from all Member States to jointly push our common foreign policy goals and counter third countries’ attempts to divide us.
There is still a large untapped potential in combining and integrating all strands of the EU external action’s hard and soft power to achieve our CFSP goals.
3. Concrete steps are necessary to strengthen the EU’s common foreign and security policy and thereby our global influence.
We need to consolidate our strategic alliances with like-minded partners across the world and also diversify our cooperation on an ad hoc basis.
We need to reinforce our “strategic sovereignty” and need a common understanding of what this concretely means.
We need a quicker and more effective decision-making process.
This means for example to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting at least in selected areas of CFSP or to consider additional formats to improve our external actions, such as a European Security Council.
On our Common Security and Defence Policy, we need to strengthen the capacity at EU and at Member State level to establish a fully-fledged defence union.
Finally, the common foreign and security policy, and our external actions as a whole, require appropriate financial resources. In this regard, I welcome the breakthrough in the trilogue concerning the Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), to name just one. All financial instruments, including the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III) and others need to be finalized and become operative soon.
No single EU Member State can respond effectively to today’s global challenges on its own.
We must continue
• to strengthen our Common Foreign and Security Policy,
• to reinforce our global influence and
• to enhance our capacity to act.
Finally, let me thank the shadow rapporteurs for the good, constructive and fruitful cooperation.