Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made the following comments on the fringes of the EU Foreign Affairs Council: “We urgently need a European solution for migration policy. It doesn’t work when nations go it alone, also in practical terms. That will not bring order to the migration flows but actually inject more chaos. The problems get larger and this is damaging Europe. We will not be able to uphold what defines Europe, our open internal borders”.
Solidarity and the rule of law
Maas issued a call not to leave Italy and Greece in the lurch with their long coastlines. The two countries need to be able to rely on the solidarity of the European Union. “The migration issue has become a major source of division within the EU. This needs to stop now.” At the same time, Maas called for rule of law standards to be respected when dealing with refugees and migrants: “Compromises have to be guided by the law”.
Majority decisions on foreign policy
Turning to common foreign relations, the Foreign Minister issued the following call: “We need to be more effective when taking decisions on European foreign policy”. He thus proposed defining spheres in which majority decisions could be taken instead of insisting on the unanimity principle.
Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)
Maas also believes the challenges Europe faces in the sphere of the Common Security and Defence Policy are growing. When it comes to missions and training, Maas advocates creating personnel reserve pools which can then be used in a rapid and flexible manner. Together with eight other countries, Germany today announced the launch of a European intervention force. The Foreign Minister emphasised: “We need to do more in future so that the civilian component is pursued as a matter of priority”.
At the meeting, the Foreign Ministers also called for peace negotiations to be launched in Yemen. The conclusions read: “There cannot be any military solution to the conflict”. Previously, the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy (UNSE) for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, provided participants with an overview of his peace plan.