In the area of the EU’s external action, too, overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully coping with its consequences and preventing future pandemics will be central issues. This will only be possible with close international cooperation. Within the context of the Team Europe approach, we will therefore work to promote joint engagement between the EU institutions and Member States, the strengthening of the multilateral institutions, productive cooperation with international partners and key players and global provision of the necessary resources. We want to review the effectiveness of the external crisis prevention and crisis management instruments of EU institutions and Member States and introduce measures to strengthen them further.

We have a special responsibility for the countries of the Western Balkans, as well as for our southern and eastern neighbourhood and our neighbouring continent Africa. Only if the EU effectively and visibly demonstrates its capability to act and its added value in its efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and comprehensively strengthen resilient crisis prevention systems across the board will it be able to perform as a credible actor on the global stage.

Our geostrategic priorities

The EU has a considerable responsibility to help shape the global order in the spirit of stronger international coordination and cooperation as well as greater sustainability and solidarity.

Together with the EU High Representative we intend to foster comprehensive and active cooperation between the EU and the United States, including broad-based political dialogue and a positive transatlantic trade agenda. The United States is our closest foreign and security policy partner outside the EU.

We are driven by the vision of an ambitious, comprehensive partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom which does justice to the depth and breadth of our relations. We will play an active role to ensure that the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on the basis of the jointly agreed Political Declaration and the negotiating mandate of the Commission reach a successful outcome. 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. This requires parallel progress in the negotiations in all areas. At the same time, full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement remains a key objective. The policy on China adopted by all EU institutions and Member States should be united and balanced, and shaped by long-term common EU interests and values. 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. We intend to arrange a top-level meeting between the EU and China as soon as possible.

At the EU-AU Summit we want to adopt a European-African agenda and intensify the political cooperation partnership with Africa through concrete joint initiatives. As central joint fields of action we have identified peace and security, good governance, economic cooperation for sustainable development and employment, climate change and the energy transition, biodiversity, health and migration issues. Another important topic is joint support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). We support a successful conclusion to the negotiations on a Post-Cotonou Agreement for broad-based cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Managing conflicts and promoting peace

In cooperation with the European External Action Service and the European Commission, we need to intensify our commitment to overcoming the major international conflicts: in finding a solution to the conflict in Libya, in overcoming the consequences of the Syria crisis, in resolving the nuclear issue with Iran, in the Sahel and in eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, the German Presidency of the Council of the EU will also press for the retention of the two-state solution as a chance for peace in the Middle East conflict. Germany will do what it can, also in view of the international donor conference for Afghanistan in November, to ensure that the EU continues to support Afghanistan on its path towards peace, stability and growth – conditional on ongoing reform efforts and progress with regard to the peace process.

Other key projects

We are calling for a credible prospect of EU accession for the countries of the Western Balkans. Drawing them closer to the European Union is in both the Western Balkans’ interests and the EU’s own strategic interest. Against this backdrop, we are actively flanking the ongoing accession negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro and preparing for the commencement of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia by drafting the negotiating framework for these two countries, taking into account the new enlargement methodology.

Germany supports the High Representative, who is committed to actively shaping EU-Russia relations on the basis of the five principles of the EU and the progress report on their implementation.

This balanced European policy towards the East includes starting the effective application of the results of the Eastern Partnership Summit and ensuring further implementation of the strategy on Central Asia.

We want to do what we can to upgrade EU-ASEAN relations to the level of a Strategic Partnership. Moreover, we intend to actively drive forward the EU-Asia connectivity strategy and continue to build on it as a framework for sustainable, smart and transparent energy, transport and digital networks.

Germany will strive to further expand EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, not least with the aim of intensifying economic relations and academic cooperation.

The tools for a strong EU on the world stage

Europe’s hallmark is the close dovetailing of all available policies as well as civilian and military tools for crisis prevention, stabilisation, conflict management and reconstruction, extending to long-term promotion of peace and sustainable development. We want to focus particular attention on the successful implementation of the integrated approach by all relevant stakeholders with the aim of strengthening the EU’s crisis response capabilities in the long term with regard to its external action. To this end we will work on developing Political Guidelines on crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding, among other things.

Finally, on the basis of the Humanitarian Call for Action, we want to work to ensure that the EU makes a substantial contribution to protecting humanitarian space and respecting humanitarian international law and principles.

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 appeal 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. We are also working to expand the EU’s capacities to impose and implement sanctions.

A leading role for Europe in strengthening the open and rules-based international trade system is crucial to overcome the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end we intend both to drive forward a modernisation agenda for the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to launch ambitious bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements, for example in the area of digital commerce. Concluding free trade and investment protection agreements is a key factor in diversifying and safeguarding supply chains and in generating the necessary growth. We are aiming for rapid progress on finalising the agreement with MERCOSUR and the modernised agreement with Mexico. We want to support the European Commission in bringing the negotiations with New Zealand and Australia to a conclusion and making progress in the talks with Chile, Indonesia and Tunisia. In trade relations with China we want to help establish a more level playing field. We are also aiming to open up procurement markets in third countries. In addition, we want to improve international investment protection regulations and drive forward efforts to create a Multilateral Investment Court. We plan to continue efforts to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals into trade policy and thereby employ trade as an effective instrument to promote this policy worldwide. To support this bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral agenda, we will simultaneously modernise and continue to review our foreign trade and investment policy tools to enable our businesses to engage in international competition with enterprises from third countries at eye level.

In the area of development cooperation, too, more intensive joint European activity is required than has previously been the case. Germany therefore supports the comprehensive use of Joint Programming. In addition, Europe must be able to respond more rapidly, innovatively and flexibly than it has to date in the area of development cooperation. We are therefore working to develop a viable and coherent European development finance architecture. In the area of European development cooperation, we also want to work with our partners to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Technology is increasingly influencing the struggle for global influence and is therefore becoming a crucial factor in international relations. For this reason, we want to initiate the set-up of a European digital diplomacy by creating a Digital Diplomacy Network incorporating the foreign ministries of the Member States under the auspices of the European External Action Service. We also intend to exploit the opportunities of digital transformation even more intensively in our European development cooperation, for instance, by promoting digital skills and data-driven markets in Africa.

Germany is working with the High Representative to further develop the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and to bolster its overall resilience and capability to act in civilian and military domains. To this end we want to conti nue to promote the coherence of all EU defence initiatives, create the necessary response structures, fully implement further development of the civilian CSDP Compact and strengthen civilian and military leadership and planning structures in Brussels for executive CSDP missions. Germany will set up a European Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management (CoE) in Berlin, which will develop conceptual standards and recommendations for civilian crisis operations. We want to focus on empowering partners in all areas within the framework of the European Peace Facility through a strategic policy approach. Together with the European External Action Service, we intend to drive forward the development of the so-called strategic compass. This security policy document is to be used to further concretise the EU’s strategic goals for the security and defence sector and make the EU‘s activity faster, more effective and more plannable, within the framework of the 2016 Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy for the European Union and based on a joint threat analysis. This should also cover its responsiveness to pandemics.

By improving processes, we want to facilitate more coordinated, coherent and targeted capability development among the EU Member States. Last but not least, we will work to strengthen the digital competence and cyber defence capabilities of the Member States’ armed forces.

We intend to promote cooperation between the EU and NATO through dialogue, transparency and more regular coordination. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, this should also incorporate military support services for civilian structures and contributions to building resilience as well as improving civil and disaster protection. Maintaining and developing the existing arms control architecture is in Europe’s security interests in the light of new technologies and stakeholders. We are in favour of a long-term inner-European dialogue with the goal of enabling Europe to speak with one voice in this process.

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