A packed agenda for the EU Foreign Ministers: US elections, multilateralism and the Middle East

Foreign Minister Maas addresses the meeting

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Videoconference of EU Foreign Ministers, © Thomas Imo/photothek.net

19.11.2020 - Article

The EU Foreign Ministers have three big topics to address today at their virtual Council meeting: What will happen now in transatlantic relations? How can the EU help strengthen multilateralism? How can the Middle East peace process be restarted?

A transatlantic “New Deal”

This is the first time the EU Foreign Ministers have met since the US presidential elections on 3 November. As a result, the future of transatlantic relations with the new US Administration is on the agenda under the heading current affairs, along with the latest developments in Afghanistan, Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Ethiopia. Foreign Minister Maas would like to reach out to President‑elect Joe Biden and Vice President‑elect Kamala Harris with a European proposal:

Europe and the US need a transatlantic “New Deal”. If we want to ensure that our relationship can endure, we need to do what is needed to invest in the future. Some of the tests of our ability to forge future cooperation will have immediate results. I’m thinking here of joint steps to deal with the COVID‑19 pandemic and the global distribution of vaccines. But much of the work will consist of long‑term action, through worldwide partnerships, for example on measures to combat climate change. There are very few issues on which we do not vitally depend on each other.

Multilateralism: strengthening the EU’s role

The Foreign Ministers also want to discuss ways in which the EU can help strengthen multilateralism and enhance its role in international organisations. In order to increase EU presence in international organisations, the EU member states want to coordinate with each other even more closely with respect to elections and candidates for key posts, as well as doing more to actively shape and support reform processes, for example in the United Nations and its specialised agencies. EU High Representative Josep Borrell is planning a Joint Communication with the European Commission on this topic in the first half of 2021.

Special guest: Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al‑Maliki

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al‑Maliki will also take part in today’s video conference. His talks with the EU Foreign Ministers will focus on the political situation in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East peace process. Following the conclusion of normalisation agreements between Israel and several Arab states, Foreign Minister Maas would like to use the momentum thereby created to make progress in the Middle East peace process.

It is now time to lend new momentum to the Middle East peace process as well. The fact that cooperation on security issues was resumed yesterday between Israel and the Palestinians is a significant sign that both sides want to seize this opportunity. Europe will help them take the next steps.


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