Common foreign and security policy

The European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) rests on a conviction shared by all member states: No European Union member state is itself capable of successfully overcoming regional and global foreign and security policy challenges and adequately protecting the interests of its citizens and European principles and values.

The effectiveness of the CFSP is a crucial factor in ensuring that the European Union can jointly promote and defend its values and interests in a targeted manner. A central goal of the Germany's Council Presidency is therefore to strengthen and build on the unity, effectiveness and sovereign formative power of the CFSP. This is to be realised with strong institutions and a strong High Representative in close consultation and with the active participation of the foreign ministers of all 27 member states. A more effective European foreign and security policy will only succeed if all member states more clearly recognise the responsibility they share for a strong Europe in the world. All too often, individual member states block the broad consensus among the vast majority of the countries – and that undermines our Union. That is why we will make a case for more willingness to engage in cooperation and compromise and to find a balance of interests and will also continue our efforts to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the common foreign and security policy during our Council Presidency, supporting the High Representative. In this context we are also actively calling for the careful extension of qualified majority decisions to include selected areas of the CFSP and the debate on the effective creation of a European Security Council. We are also working to expand the EU’s capacities to impose and implement sanctions.

A strong EU trade policy

EU global trade: container ship in the port of Hamburg © Rueter

A leading role for the EU in strengthening the open and rules-based international trade system is crucial to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end we intend to drive forward the modernisation agenda for the WTO as well as ambitious, bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements.

Free trade and investment protection agreements are a key factor in diversifying and safeguarding supply chains and for sustainable growth. We are aiming for rapid progress on finalising the agreement with MERCOSUR and the modernised agreement with Mexico and in the negotiations with New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Indonesia, among others.

We want to establish a more level playing field in trade relations with China, not least through negotiations on an ambitious investment agreement. With the United States we intend to formulate a positive transatlantic trade agenda.

We will anchor the Sustainable Development Goals more firmly in trade policy.

Development Policy

Helping emerging economies and developing countries to overcome the COVID‑19 pandemic and handle social and ecological reconstruction are overarching priorities of the EU Council Presidency’s development policy. The message we are sending is: Europe is helping. Particularly poor countries.

We want to:

  • expand the EU’s emergency measures in our partner countries to stabilise these countries in times of crisis (Team Europe);
  • adopt a Joint EU-Africa Strategy at the summit between the EU and the African Union, thereby establishing a new partnership in the areas of climate, trade, migration and digital transformation
  • conclude negotiations on a new agreement between the EU and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (Post-Cotonou Agreement)
  • launch an EU action plan to strengthen corporate responsibility in global supply chains which promotes humane, social and ecological standards and transparency
  • increase state revenue, not least by introducing rules for a minimum global tax rate (OECD reform proposals) and a Europe-wide financial transaction tax
  • expand the EU’s activities in the area of global health, food security and water supply in the spirit of the One Health approach and strengthen the WHO
  • establish a consistent and sound instrument for the EU’s external action
  • accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda with the partner countries and adopt an ambitious EU Gender Action Plan, among other things

Building on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

Germany is working to boost the role of the EU as an anchor of stability in the world. Together with the High Representative and the European External Action Service, we want to provide important impetus for building on the CSDP. The goal is an EU that actively works to promote peace and security as a responsible, effective and reliable player and global partner. Germany is therefore aiming to bolster the CSDP as a whole in both civilian and military domains so that the EU can respond appropriately and decisively to crises affecting our interests and our security. In this context, we need to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and make the EU more resilient to such crises in the area of security and defence.

To achieve this goal, we want to continue with the further development of the civilian CSDP Compact, expand opportunities for empowering partners at EU level and resolutely drive forward existing defence initiatives such as PESCO by further increasing their operational benefit. With the strategic compass as a new security policy document within the context of the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy for the EU, we want to establish a common understanding on the strategic goals and interests of the EU in the area of security and defence. With this in mind, a threat analysis is to be compiled for the first time at European level. Furthermore, Germany intends to improve structures, processes and skills in the area of cybersecurity, healthcare and logistics, for instance, and intensify EU-NATO cooperation.