, 19 tweets, 13 min read
Incoming #EU High Rep @JosepBorrellF’s first speech gave us a glimpse of #EUdiplomacy’s next 5 years. #EPhearings2019

His endorsement by the Parliament was never in doubt. Still, Borrell’s energetic speech went further than expected.


2/ Borrell shared views with his trademark outspoken tone and all the famed sides of his character:

☞ The mature #EU integration enthusiast and former European Parliament President

☞ The responsible internationalist development buff

☞ The assertive Spanish foreign minister
3/ Borrell raised a shield in defence of the rule-based multilateral order, pointing to Ukraine as evidence of the dangers ahead if it keeps unraveling.

The sub-text: ‘I am not just talking about Moscow being unilateral, Mr Trump’.

4/ Borrell was crystal clear on his #EU geographical priorities:

1⃣The eastern neighbourhood, #Ukraine and #Balkans

2⃣The southern one, #Libya and #Israel #Palestine atop

3⃣And the wider one: #Sahel, #Sudan, and the #Gulf

5/ But do not expect to see Borrell push for changes to the Spanish veto over #Kosovo’s recognition: “Recognition of Kosovo is a member states’ competence”.

But he ensured his first trip will be Pristina, to relaunch negotiations with Belgrade.

That means: Business as usual.
6/ The country Borrell named most often was #Russia.

He will continue the EU dual-track policy of sanctions + principled engagement.

No ambiguity there and a message to his @EUCouncil colleagues: as long as the situation in Ukraine stays the same, sanctions should continue.
7/ Parliamentarians knew they could expect some change from @FedericaMog’s approach to Moscow, and indeed Borrell talked the destabilising propaganda coming from #Russia.

He urged on the need to counter disinformation and engage in challenges coming with the development of #AI.
8/ After MEP @Manu_Abu_Carlos criticised woolly EU statements on #Israel/#Palestine, Borrell stoutly maintained Brussel’s support for a two-state solution.

Still, he said, EU aid to #Palestine is “vital” and that giving nearly €1m a day is “insufficient”.
9/ Borrell presented #Africa as a linchpin of future EU foreign policy, saying “1 billion new Africans in 30 years is both a challenge and a great opportunity.”

In the #Sahel, where the EU has already spent €8bn, he prioritised “state building and security assistance.”
10/ Borrell was right to note the impact of climate-driven conflicts, like sub-Saharan Africa’s herder-farmer frictions, and the wider impact of #Mali's crisis.

The #Sahel is a bigger challenge, however, where dialogue with jihadists is sometimes needed

11/ On #migration, Borrell said numbers of arrivals are rising again.
It remains a major EU-internal problem but he rightly avoided calling it again a crisis, noting that #Colombia faced millions or refugees from #Venezuela.
12/ For the record, Borrell’s Andes policy looks likely to hold the EU’s course steady:
Targeted sanctions in, Maduro out, new presidential elections.

13/ His take on international frontiers was that of a strong pro-EU-ropean:

Borders are “scars left by history" made "with fire and blood.''

“I don't like borders”, he said, before mentioning the Balkans – and I wonder if he was thinking at #Brexit too.
14/ Enter the ghost at the #EU banquet.

I was in the same room when @FedericaMog gave her first speech 5 years ago. Back then, she said the effectiveness of #EU foreign policy largely depends from developing a stronger ownership by member states.

You could say the same today.
15/ Is stronger backing for common EU positions possible at a time of re-nationalisation of European foreign policy?

Borrell’s response: the #EU needs qualified majority voting at the Foreign Affairs Council, starting with human rights, sanctions and EU civilian missions.
16/ This is the same #QMV proposal floated by @JunckerEU one year ago. Overcoming the need to build full consensus can sharpen @JosepBorrellF’s teeth, but may risk alienating member states who feel their interests threatened.

Divisions on Russian sanctions are a case in point.
17/ #QMV is tricky. Absent #EU foreign policy reform or real political union, it’s unclear where the EU is more effective than a group of member states and vice versa.

For the time being, efforts should be redoubled to shape consensus rather than overcome the need for it.
18/ Borrell said he wants to build bridges with Member States, i.e., associate ministers to his agenda, tasking them to represent the EU for him.

Putting them under the spotlight is more productive for now, although it won't solve the perennial risk of fragmenting the #EU.
19/ Calling for change in an #EU that is too “policy light and process heavy”, @JosepBorrellF made an encouraging start.

His view of a Europe of civilisation as opposed to one of nations is much needed. We look forward to working with him & his team.

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