On July 6, the European Parliament hosted High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini in order to present her EU Global Strategy as published on June 28 2016. Mogherini narrated the main elements of the Strategy and stressed the importance for the EU to acquire stronger role on the global challenges and opportunities for the benefit of the EU citizens. The majority of MEPs welcomed the Strategy by stressing the need for adequate political will by the Member States in order to ensure proper implementation of the common goals set, while also being concerned about ensuring the European values are taken into account while designing the different initiatives. Please find below more information on the debate.
[Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.]
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini started by saying that the presentation of the Global Strategy to the European Parliament is more than symbolic, as the Parliament, together with the national parliaments, accompanied her from the beginning of the preparation of the Strategy. She appreciated that and hoped for the same while following up to it. She explained that she was concerned whether to present the Strategy despite the results of the UK referendum, but she decided that the global challenges and opportunities can either be dealt at EU level or no Member State could do it alone. The world is described as fragile and it is definitely a different world from 2003 when the first strategy was presented, she added. By referring to the recent attacks in Dhaka and in Istanbul, she regretted that we are used to news that concern the interruption of people's life. It is necessary to focus on European citizens' life, as well as all the citizens of the world who expect a strong EU to contribute to making their life easier.
The UK referendum will change many things, she continued, but the EU project is not stopping here. There is euro-scepticism inside the EU, but there is also euro-enthusiasm in the Balkans. They both have to be managed, we cannot afford uncertainty, work needs to start on the priorities for the EU citizens, she argued.
She then referred to the great consultation for months and thanked Sandra Kalniete for her report. It is a long Strategy, as the work to be done is a lot. It is based on the huge potential of the EU. If we want to be relevant in the world, we cannot think as national states. There is no contradiction of local, national or European identities, but it is important to realise that some challenges can only be dealt at European level.
The EU Global Strategy, she continued, focuses on how to maximise the impact of already existing tools, starting with development cooperation, while also examining how it can become more effective if combined with joint programming and enhanced cooperation with international financial institutions, the private sector and other partners around the world. Other tools, like cultural or energy diplomacy, are also starting to be explored. All in all, the Strategy stresses that being a soft power is not enough. It focuses on military security that the EU could provide. Operation Sophia, for example, is recognised by the entire world for its great military asset.
Partnerships with international organisations, i.e. NATO, the UN, as well as the African Union, CELAC, the Arab League and ASEAN, are key for a successful global strategy, she stressed.
There is great need for a more credible European defence, by focusing on cooperation in intelligence and counter-terrorism, mainly for the interest of the EU citizens' security. The Strategy does not aim to change the Treaties, but it attempts to finally apply them. The battle groups are foreseen in Lisbon although their implementation has been constantly disturbed. Defence cooperation must progress and political will is important in this regard, she added. Furthermore, revision of the existing sectoral strategies and implementation of new, thematic or geographic strategies are necessary.
The Strategy will be discussed by the Foreign Affairs ministers in their next meeting. An annual review by the three EU institutions of the state of play of the implementation of the Strategy is foreseen in order to provide the political decision on the priorities at a time.
Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV) strongly welcomed the Strategy and regretted that the European Council could not discuss it in details and only welcomed it, rather than endorsing it. She also welcomed the focus on security, defence cooperation, resilience, enlargement, as well as the annual implementation reports to be discussed with the Parliament.
Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE) welcomed the Strategy and believed that there are differences on what the citizens want, but the big picture is common, i.e. fight against terrorism. Political will is necessary for the implementation of the Strategy. Cooperation in armament planning is prerequisite for common defence policy. The defence industry must be supported. Soft power is still the most important EU weapon and it has to remain so, he added.
Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) referred to the UK-led Atalanta operation, the Iran deal and Russian sanctions as success stories of CFSP and CSDP policies. He thought that the close UK-EU cooperation in foreign policy will continue in any case. He then welcomed the commitment of 20% of defence spending to procurement and research, the energy union and cyber security initiatives.
Johannes Cornelis van Baalen (ALDE, NL) welcomed the clear wording of Mogherini. The EU should definitely continue to cooperate with the UK in terms of security; NATO is the best platform for that. NATO is effective, but the EU should be also able to operate on its own. He supported the quote "speak softly and carry a big stick". Cooperation with Russia must continue, but it is important to bring it back to international order.
Doru-Claudian Frunzulică (S&D, RO) asked van Baalen if he would agree on a European army and an independent agency to fight terrorism.
Johannes Cornelis van Baalen (ALDE, NL) said that we should be united in fighting terrorism, but there is no need for an EU army at the moment, as the NATO army is there. Maybe in the future.
Sabine Lösing (GUE/NGL, DE) wondered if it is interests or values that is more important. Freedom of capital and security of the neoliberal order are prevailing in Europe. What are the values in the cooperation with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in using military development assistance in Africa and using development funds for refugees? Social justice and non-military prevention should be more important.
Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA, DE) welcomed the Strategy and its focus on multilateralism more concretely. She then stressed that the practical implementation is now important to be seen. She then highlighted the importance of prevention and wondered why the relevant unit was abandoned at the Commission. She lastly doubted that another version of NATO is what citizens want from the EU.
Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD, IT) thanked Mogherini for the good synthesis which updates the out dated one of 2003. He then analysed why Europe is not as united as shown in the Strategy and doubted that political union is the proper response.
Mario Borghezio (ENF, TI) thought that it is not good moment to present such a strategy, as there is unclarity with the Brexit in process. Hostility with Russia is not given that it is viable. There are different approaches not allowing for common external policy.
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