Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, visited Brussels on January 5, where he was received by Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. He also met with Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships.
The minister discussed with the president of the European Commission France’s future EU presidency and reaffirmed France’s full commitment to preparing for this deadline. He also discussed the current health crisis and the importance of effective and coordinated European action in order to find a lasting solution to the pandemic. The minister took this opportunity to reaffirm France’s position regarding the vaccine, which constitutes a global public good, and the importance of swiftly strengthening European mobilization in terms of international solidarity in this regard. He also underscored the value of broader reflection in order to make progress toward strengthening European health preparedness, an issue that will be discussed at the extraordinary meeting of European heads of state and government on February 25 and 26. He then stressed the need for Europe to adopt ambitious goals in the digital field and to strengthen the capacity to protect defense and security interests.
Major current international issues, such as relations with Joe Biden’s new administration and the United Kingdom, notably with respect to foreign policy, security and defense, were examined. The minister highlighted the importance of a unified and constructive European approach capable of ensuring EU sovereignty while respecting the interests and values that we share.
In the run-up to the European Council in March, the situation in Russia, in the context of Aleksei Navalny’s arrest, was examined in preparation for the discussions to be held by the Foreign Affairs Council on this matter on February 22; discussions also focused on the issue of European-Turkish relations in the context of the implementation of the decisions taken by the heads of state and government in December and in the run-up to the European Council in March.
Jean-Yves Le Drian and Ursula Von der Leyen also examined relations between the EU and China in order to continue efforts to rebalance European-Chinese relations with the aim of promoting increased reciprocity and greater consideration of issues relating to human rights and the fight against climate change. The minister underscored the need for the European Union to adopt a genuine strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.
With the Commission President and Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen, the Minister addressed the situation in the Sahel and security and development challenges with an eye to the N’Djamena summit on February 15-16, which will require a full commitment by the international community, the countries of the region, the EU and member states. These discussions highlighted the EU’s total commitment on major global challenges such as the environment and the climate, health and youth, migration and security, as well as the digital transition, connectivity and infrastructures – especially in Africa, in anticipation of an upcoming summit between the EU and the African Union.