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EU must step up and lead on international cooperation


03 Jun 2020



As other world-powers embrace nationalism and protectionism, the European Union must step up as a constructive, resilient, sustainable, multilateralist and feminist force, European progressives have said.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli and former vice Secretary General of the UN Jan Eliasson were among speakers who discussed multilateralism and feminism today during a livestream organised by the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Party of European Socialists.

PES President Sergei Stanishev, who introduced the event, said:

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of global cooperation. The EU must become a world champion of diplomacy, promoting our values through honest dialogue with all our partners. We must stand for democracy, solidarity and respect of everybody’s rights, especially women’s rights.  All around the world, women are the worst hit by poverty, lack of education, abuse and even the social consequences of COVID19. It’s time for a feminist foreign policy.”

Multilateralism faces strong headwinds from the Trump administration and others who are abandoning international cooperation. Feminism faces challenges too. But from the climate crisis, to human and women’s rights abuses, and now a pandemic, it is clear that cooperation and gender equality must prevail.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, said:

“Multilateralism is in crisis. But Europe is ready to fill the gaps arising in the multilateral architecture. We need a strong UN, which we will continue to support – financially and politically. And we need to work with like-minded friends of multilateralism. As European Union, we are the best example for multilateralism and will continue to stand in for our core values.”

Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality, said:

“The coronavirus crisis has heightened existing gender inequalities. Let us use this crisis as an opportunity to address gender equality, women and girls’ rights head on and make sure that recovery plans across the world are gender sensitive. A true Feminist Foreign Policy applies a systematic gender equality perspective throughout the whole foreign policy agenda. This is also the European Commission’s objective of the Gender Equality Strategy by guaranteeing coherence between internal – external gender equality policies.”

Evin Incir MEP (Swedish Social Democratic Party) moderated the discussion Promoting Peace and Democracy: Why Multilateralism Matters, which featured Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy, Jan Eliasson, Chairman of Sipri and former Deputy Secretary General of UN and Foreign Minister of Sweden and Kati Piri MEP, Vice president of the S&D Group.

This was followed by an intervention from S&D leader Iratxe García Pérez and the discussion Feminism Can Change the World: Equality and Foreign Policy in 2020, which featured Ann Linde, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality, Marina Sereni, Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Heléne Fritzon MEP and Vice-president of the S&D all took part.

The full livestream can be watched here.