War in Ukraine: MEPs want EU to push ahead with foreign policy commitments
In response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, MEPs call for the Versailles Declaration to be implemented more quickly through a step-change in EU Foreign, Security and Defence policy.
In a set of recommendations to EU member states and Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, adopted on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs set out their vision for the future of the EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy, drawing on the deep and long-lasting geopolitical consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Building on the EU’s resolve and unity, MEPs demand genuine progress in implementing the roadmap recently agreed by EU Heads of State or Government, as set out in the Versailles Declaration and the European Council’s conclusions of 24 and 25 March.
The recommendations were approved by 59 votes in favour, 10 against with 6 abstentions. The adopted version will be available here.
Push towards the EU’s strategic autonomy
While noting that the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens the very foundations of the global multilateral order on which the EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence policy is built, MEPs push for strengthened EU cooperation with like-minded partners around the globe, especially with transatlantic NATO allies. This is needed in order to maintain the strongest possible unity in defence of the rules-based international order.
To complement such cooperation, Members say the EU’s strategic autonomy must also be an overarching aim of the EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy. Such autonomy is crucial to be able to act alone when needed and with partners when possible, to weigh in on the international stage. Urgently investing in and developing credible military capabilities for an enhanced European defence system, counteracting economic coercion and ensuring other aims of strategic importance for the EU, including food sovereignty and reduced energy dependence are key to building this autonomy.
To cement its role as a capable actor, the EU must be ambitious in the field of defence and operationalise the proposed Rapid Deployment Capacity, say MEPs. In addition, the European Union needs to do more to adapt to a changed security environment, including by strengthening its defences against cyber and hybrid attacks, introducing qualified majority voting in the Council to make certain foreign policy decisions easier, including when it comes to personal sanctions regimes, and make swift progress in establishing the EU’s Defence Union.
The support to Ukraine must continue
The recommendations also call on the EU to provide, without delay, weapons to Ukraine in line with the needs expressed by the country’s authorities, notably via the European Peace Facility. Additionally, MEPs want Ukraine to be granted EU candidate status as a clear political signal of solidarity with its people. Finally, they also support the investigation into war crimes committed in Ukraine, including by calling for a special United Nations Tribunal.
“This recommendation takes a strategic perspective on the unprecedented challenges following the horrific events in Ukraine. As a European Union we need to take decisive steps in 2022 to strengthen our foreign, security, defence policy as recently stated in the Versailles Declaration of EU heads of state. The challenges of the 21st century call for more, not less, EU action on the global scene, and call for more, not less, multilateral governance and rules-based cooperation. What we need is a real political will to make genuine progress in order to achieve this new level of ambition. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is also an attack on the peace and security architecture in Europe. We must accelerate our efforts to improve our common foreign, security and defence policies“, said co-rapporteur and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister (EPP, Germany).
“In the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, we must face facts: European security is threatened, and we have now entered a new geopolitical era. In this context, we must first of all deliver military equipment more quickly to support Ukraine more effectively. Beyond that, we must now build up European defence – it is now or never. We have the framework, the strategic compass, and we must act quickly by creating a rapid reaction capability, strengthening our mutual defence, accelerating military mobility, increasing the budgets devoted to common defence projects, such as the European Defence Fund, the European Peace Facility… It is our security and that of our continent that is at stake”, said co-rapporteur and Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence Nathalie Loiseau (Renew Europe, France).
The recommendations will now be submitted for approval by the European Parliament as a whole. The plenary vote is scheduled for June.