EU’s 2021 Foreign Policy Priorities: Responsibility to Act as a Global Player in Pandemic Times

Written by | Thursday, October 8th, 2020
@Eubulletin

The European Union has a responsibility to act as a global player and adjust its foreign policy in line with the fight against COVID-19, writes MEP David McAllister in his latest op-ed in the ‚The Parliament Magazine‘. As the chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, he points out that „the current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new geopolitical dynamics and has shown the need for a stronger, united and assertive EU foreign and security policy.“ Therefore, McAllister warns that „these changes in the geopolitical environment pose substantial challenges for the EU’s external policies and its position in the world.“ The Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee chair then goes on outlining the main foreign policy priorities for the EU.
The EU has a responsibility to act as a global player and adjust its foreign policy in line with the fight against COVID-19. We need to uphold our ambition of being a ‘geopolitical’ actor, showing unity and assuming a leadership role in promoting our values and strategic interests worldwide. The EU needs to remain a reliable actor, creating strategic alliances with like-minded democracies, while building ad hoc coalitions with other partners. The rules-based system of international cooperation remains critical for the EU’s external actions, therefore we need to continue shaping international norms and standards in a way that reflects European values and interests.
The priorities for the EU external action are still valid. The COVID-19 crisis has caused deep structural changes on the geopolitical landscape. Therefore, a review of the strategic policy frameworks requires starting with the Global Strategy, including the various geographic and thematic strategies such as the European Neighbourhood Policy, transatlantic relations, China, Asia and Africa. The EU also needs a more predictable mechanism that positions the EU firmly as an active defender of human rights globally. On the state of play of the EU-UK relations, the Commission needs to prepare for all possible scenarios, as negotiations currently have a bleak outlook. With regard to security and defence, I would like to reiterate the calls to adequately fund the European Defence Agency and the Permanent Structured Cooperation from the EU budget.
In relations to our close partners in the Western Balkans and in our neighbourhood, I welcome the “Team Europe” approach for the recovery, as well as the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. The EU needs to address the consequences of the pandemic in third countries in a more comprehensive and effective way, thereby strengthening the EU’s position in the world. To that end, the Parliament has rightly called for an external budget that matches the ambition of our geopolitical goals. The EU has a responsibility to act as a global player and adjust its foreign policy in line with the fight against COVID-19. In this respect, the EU has an essential role to play; enhancing overall crisis management and working within and outside EU borders to contribute to global stability. We need to recognise that what happens outside the EU can have a critical impact on its internal security.

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