EU on Europe Day

State­ment by High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton on Europe Day
Cather­ine Ash­ton, the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Union for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy and Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Com­mis­sion, made today the fol­low­ing state­ment:

” I am delight­ed to speak to you again on the 9th of May, Europe Day. It seems incred­i­ble that a year has passed since we last cel­e­brat­ed this occa­sion. It is a year in which we have seen fun­da­men­tal changes that have brought both chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties for the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.

The Euro­pean Union is ris­ing to these chal­lenges. In recent years, we have become increas­ing­ly out­ward-look­ing with a grow­ing role and reach, act­ing as a force for good in our neigh­bour­hood and beyond.

The ambi­tion to build a strong EU for­eign pol­i­cy received a major boost with the launch of the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice – the EEAS – on the 1st of Jan­u­ary this year. The ser­vice will act as a sin­gle plat­form to project Euro­pean val­ues and inter­ests around the world. And it will act as a one-stop shop for our part­ners.

The aim of all this is to forge a bet­ter, more coher­ent pol­i­cy, devel­op­ing Euro­pean answers to com­plex glob­al prob­lems, work­ing with our part­ners around the world. It’s some­thing I know coun­tries have long asked for — and that we can now deliv­er.

For the first time, we are able to bring togeth­er all the tools that the EU has: diplo­ma­cy, polit­i­cal engage­ment, devel­op­ment assis­tance, human­i­tar­i­an aid, eco­nom­ic coop­er­a­tion, and civ­il and mil­i­tary cri­sis man­age­ment.

We are already putting this increased capa­bil­i­ty to good use as we face the rapid­ly chang­ing sit­u­a­tion in North Africa and the Mid­dle East.

The mes­sage from Europe to our friends around the world is clear: we want to work togeth­er to tack­le some of the biggest chal­lenges we all face. And with the EEAS in place, we will be a bet­ter, more capa­ble part­ner.

We remain the biggest donor and the largest trad­ing pow­er in the world, but we are doing much more, and we are doing it togeth­er.

We are sup­port­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic reforms in Egypt and Tunisia, work­ing with the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty on the future of a post-Gaddafi Libya, and apply­ing max­i­mum pres­sure on repres­sive regimes in coun­tries like Syr­ia to sup­port change.

We are play­ing a lead­ing role in the Mid­dle East Peace Process, both through close bilat­er­al con­tacts with our part­ners and as part of the Quar­tet.

We are fight­ing pira­cy off the coast of Soma­lia and help­ing rebuild Haiti fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake.

We are medi­at­ing between Ser­bia and Koso­vo for a last­ing peace in the West­ern Balka­ns, and lead­ing nego­ti­a­tions with Iran on their nuclear pro­gramme.

Our more than 130 EU Del­e­ga­tions around the world are trust­ed part­ners for their host coun­tries on all aspects of EU pol­i­cy, from secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy to ener­gy and cli­mate change.

On Europe Day, the Euro­pean Union takes the oppor­tu­ni­ty to remem­ber where it came from. But above all, it can look at how far it has come and look for­ward with con­fi­dence.

The Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice will rep­re­sent a unit­ed and strong con­ti­nent. It is there to ensure secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty for Euro­pean cit­i­zens and to help spread the same through­out the world.”

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union

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