College read-out by HR/VP Josep Borrell on the New Transatlantic Agenda for Global Change

(Josep Borrell Fontelles,Vice-President of the European Commission, Co-operators:
Photographer: Aurore Martignoni
European Union, 2020
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Good afternoon,

We have just finished our weekly College [of Commissioners] meeting. I will give you a brief overview of the points we discussed. The College adopted an EU Strategy for continued COVID-19 control measures, which is our contribution to next week’s European Council meeting on that subject. The Strategy sets out recommendations to ensure the pandemic stays under control across Europe for the next few months – and in Christmas times – and until vaccination can begin on a large scale.

It covers a wide scope of areas: from physical distancing to testing, from the protection of healthcare staff to ensuring safe travel, our strategy recommends concrete actions to Member States. My colleague Stella Kyriakides, [Commissioner for Health and Food Safety,] will present this in detail during the press conference that will follow today’s videoconference of Health Ministers.

The College also discussed the European Democracy Action Plan. We have experienced increasing threats and challenges to our democracy in recent years. Now we are taking action to uphold our democratic values and make the EU more resilient to such threats. We also discussed the Strategy to strengthen the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the European Union. We want to make sure the Charter is being applied to its full potential. Vice-President [for Values and Transparency, Věra] Jourová will give a press conference tomorrow to present the details of both these files.

Then, we also adopted an Action Plan to support the recovery and transformation of the media and audiovisual sectors, which are particularly hit by the coronavirus crisis, and they are essential for our democracy, our cultural diversity and also for our digital autonomy. This Action Plan puts forward 10 key actions, in three areas: how to recover the media sector from the crisis; how to support [its] digital and green transformation by stimulating the necessary investments; and how to empower European citizens and companies.

Furthermore, the College, in a very busy day, also adopted a package of measures to modernise European Union justice systems. This package has two main pillars. A Communication on the Digitalisation of justice in the European Union and a new strategy on European judicial training. This will improve our cross-border judicial cooperation and better equip judges and prosecutors for the challenges of this century. We want to make access to justice an integral part of Europe’s Digital Decade, grasping the opportunities of the digital age and at the same time to have safe and ethical boundaries.

At the end of the college President von der Leyen also informed the college for preparation for a budget based on provisions over twelve [..inaudible…] just in case there is no agreement on the next Multiannual Financial Framework and NextGenerationEU. This readout will be followed by a technical briefing on this topic. It is just an information about preparation measures just in case there is no agreement on these two important tools.

The President also gave us a short debrief of the current state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom.

With this, let me move to what I am here to present today, because it is mainly related to activities of High Representative, the Joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative, on the new European Union – US Agenda for Global Change.

It is the first formalised institutional message to our partners in the US. About the importance we are putting into our transatlantic relationship and about our suggestions where and how we could move together to make the world a better place. This Communication will feed into discussions by Ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council next Monday and then by European Union Leaders at the European Council later next week.

Everybody knows that the European Union and the US are the two closest partners and allies, bound by values, historical links and shared objectives. There is no more important and more strategic partner for the European Union than the US.

The Agenda formulates priorities for a revamped transatlantic partnership from our perspective and [focuses on] on several areas. Areas where our interest converge, areas where our collective leverage can best be used, and areas where our global leadership is required.

At the core of this Agenda is a united, capable and self-reliant European Union, which is good for Europe, good for the transatlantic partnership and for the multilateral system.

Now, more in detail:

On coronavirus response [we want] to work together for a healthier world. It is an invitation to the US to join the European Union global leadership role in promoting cooperation in response to the coronavirus, reopening our economies and societies as fast as possible, and jointly reinforce and reform the World Health Organization.

Second, Climate leadership. This means working together to protect our planet and prosperity. We want to focus on climate change and loss of biodiversity as the defining challenges of our time.

It is clear that we need a shared commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050 prior to COP26 next year, and we need to collaborate with the US to propose a climate initiative within the World Trade Organization.

Third, Trade and technology. This is about working together on technology, trade and standards. It is very much needed that we join forces as tech-allies to shape technologies, to set-up norms and to use our regulatory environment.

And finally Global action. Here the focus is on working together towards a safer, more prosperous and more democratic world. It reaffirms the objective of a geopolitical Commission, reflects aspirations to greater strategic autonomy – which is not contradictory to having a strong transatlantic partnership – while strengthening relation with our key world partner. These are the three objectives: geopolitical commission, aspirations to greater strategic autonomy and strengthening relation with our key world partner.

The US demand for the European Union to take more responsibility for its own matters and this is what we want to do. We need to continue working on our capabilities to enable the European Union to become a stronger global partner, in particular for the European Union-US relations and in complementarity to NATO. We want more cooperation on external affairs, we want to restore and strengthen the global rules based system and multilateralism. We want to make multilateralism great again. And also, to deal with conflicts and challenges all around the world. 

We will now invite the European Council to endorse this Agenda for Global Change and it could be then launched at the European Union-US Summit in the first half of next year. This is going to be discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council next week.

Thank you!

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