The Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Josep Borrell, Spanish candidate for High Representative/Vice-President for foreign affairs and security policy.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Josep Borrell, candidate for High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy/Vice-President for A Stronger Europe in the World.

The EU has to learn to use the language of power

During his introductory speech, Josep Borrell stressed his intention to engage in reforms in the Western Balkans, support democracy and the integrity of Ukraine, address the challenges in the southern neighbourhood, develop a new strategy towards Africa, work on political relations with Asia, step up cooperation with Latin America and reinstate transatlantic relations (US-EU). “The world has changed for the worse…There are few agreements, more vetoes”, he said.

MEPs enquired how he intends to reach consensus among member states on decisions regarding e.g. Russia or generally related to security and defence.

“We need shared strategic culture and empathy to understand the different points of view”, he replied. MEPs also asked about the role the EU could play in creating global security, when non-proliferation agreements are being breached. They also raised the issue of protecting EU maritime interests worldwide.

Asked about Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Mr Borrell replied that negotiations have lasted too long and Europe has to engage in helping Kosovo and Serbia out of the deadlock. His first visit as High Representative/Vice-President would be to Pristina, he announced.

MEPs also asked how he intends to achieve a more strategic and coherent union, as announced in the Mission letter of the Commission President. Mr Borrell said that the EU has tools for foreign policy, such as a powerful common trade policy or diplomatic power. “The EU has to learn to use the language of power”, he stressed.

Based on the committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg.

EPP: Josep Borrell will have to work hard in order to succeed where others failed

“Josep Fontelles Borrell supported many EPP Group positions during the hearing. The EU needs to show more ambition and deliver more in areas such as defence policy, relations with Russia or with the countries of Latin America, or disinformation. This is what Mr Borrell needs to deliver on once confirmed”, said Michael Gahler MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on Foreign Affairs, assessing the hearing of the designated High-Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

“We have also received assurances that the EU’s policy towards Ukraine will continue and that Mr Borrell will do his utmost to strengthen the EU’s capacity to act autonomously, even if it means that he will need to work hard in order to succeed where his predecessors failed. We will meet on Tuesday to finalise our assessment”, he concluded.

S&Ds: Josep Borrell – Best man for a difficult job as Europe’s top diplomat        

The S&D Group expressed its full confidence in Josep Borrell’s suitability to lead European foreign policy in turbulent times of change. As former president of the European Parliament and Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell is best placed to be Europe’s top diplomat the Socialists and Democrats say.

“After today’s hearing, nobody can doubt that Josep Borrell is the best man to lead the Union’s foreign policy in the coming years, a man with a vision and the required diplomatic and political skills to shape EU’s foreign policy in turbulent times. His extensive professional career, and unparalleled experience in politics, will be decisive for promoting stability in the Middle East, nurturing a genuine partnership with Africa, resetting our transatlantic relations with the United States and fostering cooperation with Latin America, strengthening and reforming the multilateral institutions and promoting the EU’s role as a global actor for peace,” said Kati Piri, the S&D vice-president for foreign affairs.

“Josep Borrell gave a convincing performance, displaying the competence, experience and passion needed to contribute in making the EU a stronger geopolitical actor. His answers, explanations and commitments testify to his awareness of the challenges facing the rules-based international order, and an impressive command of the detail and vision of the EU as a defender of effective multilateralism. He asserted his intentions to engage on the reform and integration process in the Western Balkans, to support democracy and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to addressing the challenges in our Southern neighbourhood,” added Tonino Picula, S&D coordinator in the committee on foreign affairs.

“In a world increasingly dominated by the US-Chinese geopolitical competition, the EU should reconsider its ‘silos’ approach. The stance of the current US administration emphasises the urgency for the EU to better align its foreign and economic policies to ensure the continued security and prosperity of its people – in a way that is consistent with our values. Principled pragmatism should guide all our external relations”.