Statement by Foreign Minister Steinmeier following the EU Foreign Affairs Council

16.01.2017 - Press release

Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (16 January) following the EU Foreign Affairs Council:

This was a very special EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting for me in every possible way. Firstly, because it was the last that I was able to attend, and also especially because the change of President in the US was a major topic in all of our discussions. After the interview that was published in a number of European newspapers today, this issue was particularly present in our minds.

If you compare the positions of the President-elect and the future Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, then it is not yet possible to discern a common foreign policy line on the part of the new US Government. There have been a whole range of contradictory signals. We must now wait for a uniform concept to be drawn up in the near future.

At the EU Foreign Affairs Council today, we discussed the shape that US foreign policy could take in the future. But above all, we established today that, from our perspective at any rate – from both the German and the European standpoint – our transatlantic relations must not under any circumstances be allowed to become any less important. Transatlantic relations remain the bedrock of the Western world, and we must work to ensure that this foundation remains intact. This includes our common commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law – principles that we Europeans hold dear. We will remain dependable and predictable in our efforts to preserve these foundations. And we will – as High Representative Mogherini announced today – seek to enter into a dialogue with the future US Secretary of State as soon as possible.

Moreover, we believe that the things that we have achieved through working with each other at different levels in the context of international law and European-American negotiations should apply. This goes for the World Trade Organization and for the alliances in which we are both partners, such as NATO.

With these various uncertainties in mind, perhaps some of us have been reminded once again today of how important it is for Europe to stay together and adopt common positions. This is evident not only for foreign policy reasons, but also with a view to what is currently happening in Europe and in the member states of the EU. As the centrifugal forces within societies are gaining in strength, it is even more important for us to stand together as one.

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