Annual Conference of the Institute for Security Studies of the European Union
Council of the European Union (Link) - European Union High Representative For Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana (October 22, 2009)
Dear friends, We are working hard to make a difference on every international question that is affecting our interests and values. We are now able to take decisions in real time; not just publish a communiqu� one week after the event. From climate change to the International Criminal Court, we can say with a straight face that the EU is playing a leadership role. The European Union, more than anyone else, is constantly defending a vision of the world where rules are respected, the vulnerable are protected and solidarity is enacted.
Often we talk ourselves down in Europe. You all know the refrain of Europe being too divided, too slow and too soft. Long on rhetoric, short on delivery. And Yes in various areas we still under-perform compared to our potential. But a little perspective is in order here. Now we are taking executive action in a fast-moving world.
Building on the improvements of the last ten years, and with the new opportunities of the Lisbon Treaty within reach, we should plan our next steps : alert to new problems and dangers; guided by our common values. In partnership with others. And with the conviction that each on our own is unable to deal effectively with the problems of our globalised world. We know that acting together is the only way to defend our interests. But we have also defined acting together as being a strategic common interest. That is why European integration is both a means but also an end in itself.
I am convinced that it is only through further integration that Europeans will be able to assert themselves in a more complex world. A world characterised by big power shifts, multi-polarity and new security threats. A world where other narratives and other ways of doing things are gaining ground. We need to understand this world - at a deeper level than we often do. For this we need more common European assessments of what is driving change; how it is affecting our interests and what our options are to respond.
Dear friends, We have a pressing policy agenda for the next few months.
Climate change sits right at the top, . It is vital that we get an ambitious deal in Copenhagen that really sets the world on a low-carbon trajectory. I am concerned that the politics of climate change is falling behind what the scientists are telling us needs to happen. If left unchecked, climate change will create real havoc.
And as Nicholas Stern has demonstrated: the costs of inaction vastly outweigh the costs of taking action. So we can take our responsibilities now or pay a much higher price later.
And let us be clear: if we pay later, we will not just pay in financial terms, also in political terms.
As European Union we have made a credible commitment on both emission targets and financing. We expect the US, China, India and many others to act in the same spirit. This is a test for the global system and a test for European Union that has invested so much leadership in this issue.
Before the end of the year, we will have to grapple with the second round of the Afghanistan Presidential elections and the wider regional conundrum including Pakistan. Our success, or our failure, will be critical.
We also need to press relentlessly to unblock the unacceptable stalemate in the Middle East. We need it imperatively. The rest of the agenda that we know about ranges from the Ukraine Presidential elections in January to the NPT Review Conference in May.
But there is a wider and a longer-term agenda for shaping a more effective European foreign policy. Starting with our neighbourhood but going beyond, in line with our global ambitions. Let me end with some reflections on that.
First, we have to realise that our primary responsibility is to make Europe function. And then to enhance our collective ability to handle global crises. For that we need the Treaty but also the spirit of the Treaty when we implement it.
Second, we need more capabilities for crisis management; more sensible budget priorities and more sophisticated political analyses. All three are within reach.
Third, EU foreign policy cannot function if it's only seen as service agency for particular concerns of the member-states. An EU where everybody seeks more money and engagement for "their" priorities or "their" clients, while disengaging from other files, will not work.
We need solidarity. Not just in financial but also in political terms. We should back a member-state if it has a particular problem or need.
But this is a two-way street. You also need to be interested in other people's problems. And we should be strict on any unreasonable use of the unanimity rule. The un-written maxim of the Union is: "thou shalt negotiate" - and hence, not just sit on your position.
Fourth, we should build a foreign policy fit for the problems of the 21st century. We should not re-create at the level of the European Union what does not really work at the national level. So we must make it integrated, wide in scope and geared towards mobilising networks.
This has been the clear verdict of the past ten years. We should draw inspiration from that, to guide us in a world that demands more of Europe.
The world needs Europe. But Europeans need Europe too. It is our duty - but also our chance. The difficulties are enormous. But what I describe is achievable.
Thank you very much.