The time has come for the EU to take its destiny into its own hands, with a genuine common foreign and security policy (CFSP) to promote its interests, principles and values, say MEPs.
In a report reviewing key EU foreign policy choices, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, MEPs argue that the EU should use its available instruments more effectively and that member states should prioritise unified EU positions over national interests. Among the proposals, MEPs suggest improving decision making among EU countries by possibly setting up an EU Security Council and abolishing the unanimity requirement by introducing qualified majority voting in the Council of the EU on matters relating to the CFSP.
In terms of relations with third countries, MEPs encourage further consideration of the “less for less” policy towards countries that are violating human rights and democratic standards, including stripping them of possible preferential terms they might enjoy with the EU, for example on trade and development. In particular, no agreement between the EU and third countries should be ratified until human rights benchmarks are met, MEPs stress.
Strengthen the EU’s resilience to external interference
The report highlights the EU’s need to strengthen its internal resilience to external interference and to establish a common strategy with international partners, in order to protect critical infrastructure as well as democratic hallmarks and basic institutions.
MEPs express their support for further improving the EU’s resilience to terrorist attacks, notably jihadist terrorism, radicalisation, illegal migration, propaganda, online and offline disinformation campaigns, Russian attempts to carry out cyberattacks and interfere during elections and other hybrid threats that require rapid and coordinated counteraction.
They underline that all possible measures should be taken to avoid any interference in the next European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019.
More solidarity and determination to handle crises
The report calls on all EU countries to take the necessary steps to respond jointly to the migration crisis, just as they have responded with solidarity to the challenges posed by an assertive Russia and China. The current crisis has tested the willingness of EU countries to cooperate more effectively to address common challenges, in a security environment that is now more volatile, complex and ambiguous than at any time since the end of the Cold War, MEPs say.
They argue that soft power and institution building is now insufficient to exert influence in today’s world. Hard power tools with adequate resources and capabilities, including military, are therefore required. A genuinely common European foreign and security policy, based on strategic autonomy, is also needed to promote the EU’s common interests as well as its principles and values, according to the text.
The report was approved by 38 votes in favour, 7 against and 11 abstentions.
“I am convinced that the EU can prosper in an increasingly interdependent and multipolar world if it assumes its role as a fully-fledged, sovereign political power. In order to be able to play this role, the EU must invest in collective leadership”, said EP rapporteur David McAllister (EPP, DE).
“At a time when multilateralism is increasingly under attack and when old alliances are being put into question, we need to develop new coalitions with emerging powers and like-minded countries in support of a rules-based international order, multilateralism and free trade”, he continued.
The report will be voted on by the European Parliament as a whole during the plenary session in Strasbourg in December.