The EU needs to brace itself for difficult times and step up its presence on the world stage to “avoid that the world collapses completely”, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a conference in Brussels on Monday (3 September).
While the “very idea of multilateralism is increasingly challenged”, Europe must work more closely with its international partners, Mogherini said in her speech to EU ambassadors and emphasised that “Europe is not withdrawing from the world stage. On the contrary, it will be even more engaged in global affairs.”
“We have to avoid that the world collapses completely,” she told officials from the EU representations from all over the world.
Mogherini has been the EU’s driving force in the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, having sworn that the EU will do “it’s best to keep Iran in the deal” after the US withdrew from the accord earlier this year.
Although she did not explicitly mention President Donald Trump, her speech came after the informal meetings of EU foreign and defence ministers under the umbrella of the Austrian EU presidency last week. In Vienna, diplomats made yet another attempt to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.
While the efforts forged mainly by France, Germany and Britain stand in direct contradiction to Washington’s foreign policy under the Trump administration, the rift between the US and its European allies increasingly suggests a divergence in interest on the global stage.
Indicating that she does not seek reappointment after the Juncker Commission’s mandate ends following the 2019 European elections, the EU’s top diplomat emphasised that there is “much to do in the last year of the current EU Commission until the autumn of 2019” and she stressed she wanted to “leave her house tidy” to her successor.
During her term, Mogherini played a significant role helping to transform the EU’s foreign and security policy into a tighter defence pact with the goal of closer cooperation between the member states.
Earlier in June, she proposed an increase for the external action budget by €123 billion for the next seven years – a boost of 30%. It is one of the steps in the framework announced in the EU’s Global Strategy in 2016 to ramp up the EU’s presence in foreign and security policy at the global stage.
“What we wrote in the Strategy still stands in an impressive manner, (…) we wrote that the only way to change our world for the better was to work for a more cooperative world order, and to do so together – together as Europeans and together with our partners around the world,” she said.
In her speech to the EU diplomats corps, she called for unity inside the bloc in the face of external challenges: “Our Union is going through a difficult moment. Weakening our union can only make each one of us weaker.”
She also commented on rising nationalist tendencies in Europe, saying that “the only way to gain sovereignty in our difficult world is to share sovereignty.”