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Prominent Europeans call for change in approach to EU foreign policy


Now that Ursula von der Leyen has been appointed European Commission President, European governments must turn their focus on how Europe can stand up for itself and its citizens

Link diretto su ecfr.eu.

As the world descends into geopolitical competition, Europeans are in danger of becoming hapless playthings in a tussle for pre-eminence between China, Russia, and the United States. But this can be avoided if Europeans take their destiny into their own hands. The EU member states collectively retain the biggest single market in the world, more defence spending than any power other than the US, the world’s largest diplomatic corps, and highest levels of development spending.

We therefore call on the new EU leadership team, who will take over in late 2019, to understand the challenge that confronts them and receive the tools they need from EU governments to change Europe’s approach to foreign policy. Together with Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, the EU Council President elect, and Josep Borrell, candidate for HRVP, must move quickly to find ways of getting EU institutions to empower and channel the resources of foreign ministers and member states behind a common European foreign policy.

They must:

  • set out on a quest for strategic sovereignty for Europe. This should have economic and financial elements (coping with secondary sanctions, the role of the dollar, payments systems, investment screening, technology regulation), security and defence elements (promoting greater European responsibility and resistance to conventional and hybrid threats including cyber) and political diplomatic ones (exploring how Europeans organise and reach out to others on multilateral issues).  The HRVP must not run away from the most controversial issues in Europe’s foreign policy – China, Near- and Middle East, Russia, migration, the Balkans, climate change – but rather try to craft ways to go beyond the lowest common denominator by engaging groups of member states in a new grand bargain;
  • re-operationalise European security and defence. Europeans should take more responsibility for their security and become a better partner for the United States by strengthening the European pillar in NATO and taking over responsibility for missions in the Balkans and Africa. They must also consider innovations such as a European Security Council in order to – among others – engage the UK after Brexit;
  • build a stronger link between EU institutions in Brussels and national governments on foreign policy. If EU foreign policy is to be effective, it cannot just rely on a single HRVP to carry the political burden. The HRVP should be backed by deputies from the Commission covering key regional issues and task core groups of national foreign ministers to support him.

These steps help renew the EU and show its citizens that Europe can be the first line of defence in an increasingly uncertain world.  


Giuseppe Scognamiglio – Chairman, eastwest Institute; Editor, EastWest

Douglas Alexander – Chair, Unicef UK; former UK Secretary of State for International Development

Joaquín Almunia – former Vice President of the European Commission & Commissioner for Competition

Timothy Garton Ash – Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford

Marek Belka – Member of the European Parliament; former Polish Prime Minister and Head of the Polish National Bank

Carl Bildt – Co-chair of the Board of ECFR; former Prime Minister; former Foreign Minister

Emma Bonino – former Minister of Foreign Affairs

Han ten Broeke – Director of Political Affairs, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS); former Member of Parliament

John Bruton – former Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach); President, IFSC Ireland

Harald Braun – ECFR Council Member

Ditmir Bushati – Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Maria Livanos Cattaui – former Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce

Lucinda Creighton – former Irish European Affairs Minister

Srdjan Darmanovic – Montenegrin Minister of Foreign Affairs

Milica Delević – ECFR Council Member

Ilinca von Derenthall – Head of Audit and Risk Committee, Chimcomplex Borzesti S.A.

Anna Diamantopoulou – President, DIKTIO – Network for Reform in Greece and Europe

Vaira Vike-Freiberga – former President of Latvia

Sigmar Gabriel – Member of German Parliament, former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Germany

Carlos Gaspar – Member of the Board of Directors, Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI)

Mihai Gotiu – Senator in the Romanian Parliament; former Vice-President of the Romanian Senate; former journalist

Teresa Gouveia – Member of the Board of Trustees, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; former Foreign Minister of Portugal

Jean-Marie Guéhenno – Senior Adviser, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue; former President and CEO, International Crisis Group; former Under-Secretary-General, Peacekeeping Operations, UN Geneva

Fabienne Hara – Special adviser to donor government relations, Europe, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Adjunct Professor, Sciences Po

Ivailo Kalfin – former Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Sandra Kalniete – Member of the European Parliament; former Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Piia-Noora Kauppi – Managing Director, Federation of Finnish Financial Services

Bert Koenders – Special Envoy, Worldbank; Professor International Politics, University of Leiden; former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs

Miroslav Lajčák – Slovakian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Pascal Lamy – Honorary President, Notre Europe; Chairman, Paris Peace Forum; former Director-General of the WTO; former EU Commissioner

Remzi Lani – Director, Albanian Media Institute, Tirana

Mark Leonard – Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

Leiv Lunde – Senior Asia Advisor, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Cristina Manzano – Editor-in-chief, Esglobal

Dario Mihelin – Ambassador of Croatia to the People’s Republic of China

Nils Muiznieks – former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz – Head, ideaForum, Stefan Batory Foundation

Delphine O – Ambassador, Secretary General of the UN Woman Gloab Forum, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; former Member of French Parliament

Christine Ockrent – Commentator and writer; Presenter of ‘Affaires Etrangères’, France Culture Radio

Hanna Ojanen – Adjunct Professor (Docent), University of Helsinki

Andrzej Olechowski – former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs

Dick Oosting – former CEO, European Council on Foreign Relations; former Europe Director, Amnesty International

Andrés Ortega – writer and journalist from Spain

Coen van Oostrom – CEO and Founder, OVG Real Estate

Zaneta Ozolina – Professor, University of Latvia; former Director, Latvian Centre for Human Rights

Nicolò Russo Perez – ECFR Council Member

Rosen Plevneliev – former President of Bulgaria

Charles Powell (Spain/UK) – Director, Real Instituto Elcano

Lia Quartapelle – Member of the Italian Parliament

Norbert Röttgen – Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Bundestag

Marietje Schaake – former Member of the European Parliament

Javier Solana – former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy & Secretary-General of the Council of the EU; former Secretary General of NATO

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer – former NATO Secretary General; former Dutch Foreign Minister

Christoph Steck – ECFR Council Member

Jonas Gahr Støre – Leader of the Norwegian Labour Party; former Minister of Foreign Affairs

Andris Strazds – ECFR Council Member

Ion Sturza – Founder & Chairman, Fribourg Capital; former Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova

Hannes Swoboda – former President, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, European Parliament

Henrik Thune – Director, Norwegian Center for Conflict Resolution (NOREF)

Nathalie Tocci – Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali

Vygaudas Ušackas – Director, Institute of Europe KTU; former Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Andre Wilkens – Director, European Cultural Foundation; Co-Founder; Die Offene Gesellschaft

Samuel Žbogar – Head of the Delegation of the EU to Macedonia; former Slovenian Foreign Minister

Signatories are all Council Members of the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

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