Press Releases SHARE PRINT Economic Security: College read-out by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell on the European Economic Security Strategy

SHARE PRINT Economic Security: College read-out by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell on the European Economic Security Strategy

Thank you for this press conference in which I am participating with my colleagues – the [Executive] Vice-Presidents of the European Commission – more in my capacity as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – I want to stress that – than as Vice-President of the [European] Commission.

In fact, it is important to note that security and defence are a competence of Member States. And as Margrethe [Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of Europe fit for the Digital Age and Commissioner for Competition] said, we are not here through this [Joint] Communication to engage in a battle of competences – certainly not – but it is important to know who can do what and in which basis, in which legal basis the different European institutions act.

And certainly, it is a Joint Communication [in which] we have to put together the competences of the [European] Commission and the Member States.

This is my role.

So, I am going to speak more as High Representative for the Security Policy because the point of view of the Commission has already been explained. First, by the President [of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen] herself, and afterwards by my two colleagues [Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis].

So, allow me to complement the point of view of the Commission with the point of view of the Member States.

It is clear that – everybody – all Member States are fully aware that security is a concept that has new and multiple dimensions.

Until recently, security was related to armies. The armies provide defence and you secure yourself through the capacity of fighting.

But now, security has multiple new dimensions, and the economy is one of these dimensions.

The traditional concept of security is being redefined. We can say that war can today be conducted by other means, apart from guns. And among the means to conduct war, aggression, is the economy.

That is why we speak about economic security. Even, I would prefer to say ‘security through economics’. This is what it is about: how to secure ourselves through economic tools.

And we need to do because we have had the COVID-19 [pandemic], Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and increasing strategic, technological competition between the major economic powers. I do not have to name them.

But it is clear that all of that has exposed us to excessive dependencies that can threaten our security in the broader sense.

Remember, during the pandemic, suddenly we realised that not a single gram of paracetamol was being produced in Europe. And today, I can tell you that to increase the capacity of production [for] ammunitions, we lack critical materials that we are no longer [have] available inside Europe and has to be imported. So, this weakens our strategic autonomy. It poses economic risks and threatens our security.

And through this Joint Communication – joint between the Commission and me, as representative of the Council –, we are seeking to balance our traditional [international] openness with instruments that secure our prosperity.

These dependencies could be used by some as a leverage for coercion measures that could affect our strategic sectors in a very critical manner. So, it is important that we get prepared for that and at the level of the European Union, for the European Union as a whole, we should develop our own strategy, driven by our own interests and objectives, based on a long[-term] view of the world economy and with our relations with the rest of the world, because this strategy may affect clearly the relations with some countries.

And I know that you have been asking about China. It is not about China, and I am sure you will give me the opportunity to explain why.

We do not start from scratch. The European Union – and mainly, the Commission – has [already] done a lot.

But now, the moment has come to build [a strategic and foresight approach]. And the core of this approach – as my colleagues have explained – is de-risking. I will not repeat their very good explanations.

I only want to say that we have to deter and protect ourselves from external threats to our economy. For that, we have already quite a lot of tools, but we need new tools.

We need new tools to address more effectively these emerging threats.

Allow me to clarify also from a foreign policy point of view that we do not want to limit the development or prosperity of other countries, but we must be equipped to protect our economic security and our economic interests from the actions of some other countries.

The objective is to assess security [issues] at the European Union level and in doing that, when we talk about European level [and] security, we are entering fully the realm of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

The Common Foreign and Security Policy has clear instruments that we can use to this end.

We can explore the targeted use of CFSP instruments, including restrictive measures – what we call colloquially ‘sanctions’. ‘Sanctions’ do not exist in our treaties; they only talk about restrictive measures.

We can use the Hybrid and Cyber Diplomacy toolboxes. We will use our Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC).

And more generally, we have to ensure the promotion of economic activity at the European level, integrating in our foreign policy agenda, and increasing the cooperation with third countries on economic security issues.

Today, this Communication marks the first step, as you have said. The first step of a process.

It is a conceptual framework that will include further reflection, analysis, discussions and, above all, consensus building among Member States.

I will take personally care of that in my capacity as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Council will discuss this communication to take a stock of the proposals and see how and when they can be implemented.

I want to signal that others states in the world have taken years in developing an elaborated approach to economic security and to put in place a complex institutional framework for its governance.

It is of paramount importance that our partners understand our message and [that] they do not see this economic security strategy as a protectionist move. It is not.

It is just a first step towards developing a European framework for economic security, to secure our economy. This will be a new paradigm for shaping our foreign policies in the years to come.

Thank you.

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