A more assertive EU in a volatile world

The predictions made last year with regard to the growing importance of great power rivalries still rings in our ears.

What is more, our strategic environment grows ever more unpredictable. Today, major powers openly challenge the rules based international order and seek to promote alternative visions of a world divided into spheres of influence. Geopolitical rivalry stokes tensions and raise the alarm bell of a new “proliferation age” that risk escalating into inadvertent military confrontation. Climate change is becoming an existential threat while cyberspace and disinformation campaigns are the new weapons of the 21st century

For the European Union, the answer is clear: these challenges can only be tackled through a multilateral approach. Together we have the tools and the political weight to shape the future global order if we stay united. This is why instead of retreating from international cooperation and global partnerships, the EU is stepping up its commitment to address global challenges together with its partners: this is true for the Paris agreement on climate change, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on non-proliferation, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the EU’s strategy for connectivity between Asia and Europe or the reform of the WTO.

While these agreements are – in essence – hard to reach, we are convinced they are the best way to ensure a more peaceful, prosperous and secure world environment. Even more so when it is clear that no single country can address these challenges alone. I am convinced this approach is the right one and the fact that demand for European action from our partners has never been so high speaks for itself.

At every given opportunity, the need to define common answers to common problems is not only highlighted but translated into action. The European Union is therefore investing in broader international cooperation and partnerships above all with NATO, the UN, and regional organisations such as the Africa Union and ASEAN. Our trilateral EU-AU-UN cooperation on common challenges such as migration illustrates how multilateral solutions can contribute to greater safety, stability and prosperity.

For instance, as the UN IPCC Special Report on Global Warming warned us recently, there is an urgent need to act on climate change. This is the logic for the EU’s tireless efforts to reach a successful outcome at COP 24 in Katowice. The EU will lead by example by turning its own ambitious commitments for 2030 into concrete action. This was made clear at the high level event on Climate and Security hosted by the EU last June.

In the security sector, the European Union continues to assert its role as a security provider.

Not only it is working internally to intensify joint efforts to effectively fight terrorism, hatred and violent extremism, the Union is engaged on the ground with 16 crisis management missions i.e. nearly 4.000 men and women.

From building capacities in Mali, Niger and Central African Republic, to supporting security sector reform in Iraq, fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia or preventing a resurgence of violence in Georgia, the Union continues to strengthen international security in its neighbourhood and beyond.

This is complemented by continued engagement in more than 40 mediation activities across the world, from Colombia to Yemen and Philippines, and underpinned by financial assistance as the EU remains the lead donor for development and humanitarian aid.