The meeting with my EU counterparts is taking place right on cue: following a week of decisive talks on Russia, we, as the EU, now have the opportunity in Brest to take stock of the situation. The fact that France is hosting this meeting together with the EU in January at the very beginning of its Presidency of the Council of the EU sends a clear signal that we are staking out our positions as Europeans and are serious about the close ties between the EU member states. This is especially important in the current crisis because the EU’s fundamental interests are at stake here – from sovereignty to the territorial integrity of independent states to issues of political and economic cooperation between the EU and Russia to the security situation on the EU’s external borders.
In order to strengthen Europe’s role in the world, however, we must do more than simply manage current crises. We need longer-term strategies and planning. It is precisely for this reason that we are working within the EU on a Strategic Compass, which we will discuss in detail today together with the Defence Ministers. This Strategic Compass is intended to point the EU and its member states in a clear security policy direction in the future. Especially vis-à-vis autocratic players such as Russia and China it is important to remember that if Europe takes a common approach and speaks with one voice, it is a heavyweight. If, on the other hand, it is divided, it punches beneath its weight.