With the Presidency we are assuming a special responsibility for an effective European foreign policy. We are convinced that only together can we Europeans effectively address international challenges, assert our interests through cooperation and defend our values. We want a Europe that works energetically to promote a rules-based and sustainable international order based on solidarity. We want a Europe that can have a say in determining the international order, standards and norms worldwide. We want a Europe that also secures its influence in the world through its innovative potential and economic clout. During our Council Presidency we intend to take as many steps as possible along this path and strengthen Europe’s role as an anchor of stability in the world and particularly in our neighbourhood. In the area of the EU’s external action, too, overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully coping with its consequences and preventing future crises will be central issues of our Presidency.
Joint strategies, concerted action
The basis of our joint external action is the EU’s Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy from 2016, with the following priorities for European external action:
- security for the EU – external and internal
- state and social resilience in the EU’s southern and eastern neighbourhoods
- coherence in dealing with crises and conflicts including stabilisation by implementing the so-called integrated approach, which combines civilian and military conflict resolution measures, focuses on all conflict cycles and tackles them at local, national, regional and global level with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders
- strengthening cooperative regional structures
- strengthening the multilateral order under the auspices of the United Nations
During its Council Presidency, Germany will support the High Representative, putting itself at the service of a united, responsible and powerful European external action policy, so that the EU can respond to crises quickly and effectively, thus protecting the interests and values of its citizens.
Influential in shaping relations with major geopolitical players
The EU has a considerable responsibility to help shape the global order on the basis of international cooperation, sustainability and solidarity. Our goal is to further strengthen the EU’s geopolitical capacity to act in relations with global and regional superpowers. To this end, it is vital for the EU to speak with one voice and to act as a constructive global player, sustainably and effectively shaping and protecting our values and interests.
The United States of America is Europe’s most important partner, with transatlantic relations and our alliance being a cornerstone of European foreign and security policy. Together with the EU High Representative we intend to foster comprehensive cooperation between the EU and the United States, including broad-based political dialogue and a positive transatlantic trade agenda.
The United Kingdom should remain close to the EU through a comprehensive partnership even after its withdrawal from the Union. On the basis of the joint Political Declaration and the negotiating mandate of the Commission, we are working to ensure a successful outcome of the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. In this context it goes without saying that our future partnership has to find a good balance between rights and obligations as well as fair conditions for competition.
One foreign policy priority will be to develop a balanced and coherent policy on China shaped by common EU values and interests. Together with the European External Action Service and the Commission, we want to expand cooperation with China and work to foster greater reciprocity in all policy areas. We are aiming to make concrete progress in the negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement and on the issues of climate protection, biodiversity, global health and cooperation in Africa as well as to find common solutions to problems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With regard to relations with Russia, the German Council Presidency supports the High Representative, who is committed to actively shaping EU-Russia relations on the sound basis of the five principles of the EU and a progress report on their systematic implementation.
Active and effective policies in the wider neighbourhood
The European Union is mindful of its great responsibility towards the countries of the Western Balkans, as well as for our southern and eastern neighbourhood and our neighbouring continent Africa.
During Germany’s Council Presidency, we will be calling for a credible prospect of EU accession for the countries of the Western Balkans and also want to finalise a negotiating framework to this end with Albania and North Macedonia. In the countries in the EU’s neighbourhood we want to support and drive forward reforms in the areas of democracy, stabilisation and economic development as prerequisites for moving closer to the European Union. Formulating concrete goals by the time of the Eastern Partnership Summit in early 2021 will be a top priority in this area.
Relations with our neighbouring continent Africa will also be a special focus of Germany’s Presidency. The EU is working on a comprehensive Strategy with Africa with a new focus on a more in-depth political partnership. Furthermore, preparations are under way for a summit with the African Union to define the two continents’ joint priorities for the next three years. We are aiming for improved cooperation with Africa in overcoming joint global challenges, not least in the areas of climate change, sustainable development, digital transformation, peace and security and migration.