This article is part of our special report What’s next for European socialism?.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini launched an attack against US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (18 October), without directly naming him, claiming that isolation in foreign policy leads nowhere and that the EU is currently the “only credible and predictable” global power.
Speaking in the European Parliament yesterday in Brussels, the EU High Representative also attacked Realpolitik and pointed out that being tough for the sake of being tough is often a sign of weakness.
As far as European security and defence is concerned, she said it had nothing to do with militarising the continent but rather a means of getting strategic autonomy from others, and ensuring better military spending.
“Military force is needed sometimes but for us Europeans it’s never, never, never, the solution alone,” she said, emphasising the need for diplomacy, and patience of mediation.
According to Mogherini, the international order is going through challenging times and she urged Europeans to be courageous and express their own ideas in order to change things.
The “European way” against Realpolitik
Mogherini was speaking at the “Building the progressive future together” event organised by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the Parliament.
In her speech, she mentioned three times the need to avoid “isolation” in international politics, highlighting the need to promote the “European way”.
“There is an alternative to the foreign policy of isolation, fear, protectionism and confrontation, and this is the European way,” she said.
The European way, according to Mogherini, is made of cooperation and partnership, respect for international law and standards of multilateralism as well as a constant search for win-win solutions.
The EU foreign policy chief noted that there was nothing wrong in being idealistic particularly in these times of “cynical Realpolitik”, reiterating that the solution of our times will never come with isolation.
“There is only one global power today that is credible, reliable and predictable for the rest of the world and not only to its citizens – and this is the EU,” she said amid applause.
Support for the UN
At a moment when the UN is under attack, the EU is the strongest and most reliable supporter of effective multilateralism, Mogherini continued.
She expressed her full support for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and added that the EU cannot be better off if the rest of the world is not. “We are all connected,” she said.
She explained that Socialists and Democrats understand the value of UNESCO in order to protect Europe’s heritage in conflict, history and memory.
Last week, the US and Israel decided to pull out of the world heritage body over its “anti-Israel bias”.
Trump has been a long-standing critic of the UN. During his election campaign in 2016, he complained that the United States were contributing a disproportionate amount of money to the New-York based international organisation.
During his first speech at the UN in September, the US President strongly criticised the UN, saying it had not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.
“The United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process,” Trump said, stressing that the organisation needed reform.
UN Secretary-General Guterres seemed to accept some of the criticism. “Our shared objective is a 21st century UN focused more on people and less on the process,” he replied.
Iran nuclear deal
On Monday (16 October) Trump reiterated his threat to fully withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal reached in 2015 with the EU as a mediator.
Referring to the deal, Mogherini said that Europe honors it and defended its achievements.
“We managed to put in place an effective monitoring system to make sure that Iran’s nuclear programme will only have peaceful purposes”.
She explained that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has conducted plenty of inspections and said that Iran has complied with all its commitments.
“It is a deal that prevented a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, next to us. That brought security in the region and to young people in the country. That was the European way and it was thanks to us because we were the mediator,” she said.
“In today’s world where everything is going wrong it’s not possible to dismantle the single agreement that works,” she emphasised.
Mogherini also noted that Europe was not naïve but does politics with a smile.
“Some will believe that strength in foreign policy means scrapping rules and agreements and move alone in isolation against the others. That being strong means being tough.
“Let me tell you, sometimes you need more strength to smile than to shout. The real strength lies in creating a space for dialogue and win-win solutions in building your partnerships and listening,” Mogherini said, adding that being tough for the sake of being tough is often “a sign of weakness”.
Africa: Turning the page
In her speech, the EU official also drew attention to the new EU-Africa partnership, stressing it had entered a new era.
“We turned the page from the logic of aid to the logic of partnership […] we don’t work for Africa but with Africa.”
Mogherini referred to the EU’s External Investment Plan, which was adopted in September with the aim of boosting investments in the African region.
“It is a win-win situation for the European private sector and EU and African citizens,” she said.
Regarding immigration, Mogherini said it was not a phenomenon to stop but to manage.
“If all migrants would disappear in Europe today, entire sectors of our economy would collapse tomorrow morning,” she said, adding that this does not mean fences but a partnership to work in a humane way to manage the phenomenon together, with NGOs, the states and UN agencies.