Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (2014-19), discusses the most pressing threats and challenges the world will face in the next decade.


Federica Mogherini: One of the major threats or challenges we are facing in the 2020s is the disruption in the multilateral framework – the attempt to dismantle the cooperative approach in global issues. Because this undermines our capacity to effectively address all the other crises around us that either find a solution with this cooperative approach or they simply don't find a solution.

I would put climate change as a second threat to our own security as Europeans. First of all for the impact climate change has on our own territory in Europe, but also the impact it has on the security of other territories. Natural disasters in the rest of the world create massive movements of people in other places that also affect Europe and the overall geopolitical balance.

Climate change poses a threat to our own security as Europeans

And then I would put poverty as the issue of the next decade. The bubble of poverty is so significant in certain parts of the world, and the inequalities inside continents and countries are so important that these create shock waves that will affect Europe as well.

How can the EU address these challenges?

First of all, Europe has to acknowledge the role it has to take today, and lead not only by example, but also by creating the space for alliances worldwide to be formed and act together. Because the Europeans have always perceived themselves as part of the multilateral system in a moment when multilateralism is put in question and challenged.

I believe Europeans have to start leading and taking responsibility for also offering others the space to come together and work in a cooperative manner. 

Is the US still a strategic partner for the European Union?

I still believe very strongly that the US and Europe are intrinsically bound together. Our ties are so deep that no political dispute can damage that. Even with this administration, we've continued to work together on most of the foreign policies and I think we will continue to do so. I think of Syria, Ukraine, the Balkans and Libya. And we are together in NATO, which remains a very important pillar for our common security.

The nuclear deal with Iran has been a fundamental pillar for non-proliferation and security

How should the EU approach the current 5G race?

On this particular issue of the 5G, first of all it is member states that need to take their own decisions. I think it was important that member states went into at least a common analysis of the risk assumption and assessment.

It is not only a technological or economic decision. It has some insecurity implications and our security as Europeans is interlinked. And so that element needs to be taken into consideration with a European perspective.

What role can the EU play in preserving the nuclear deal with Iran?

The nuclear deal with Iran has been a fundamental pillar for non-proliferation and security. The agreement is still alive, but it is not in good shape. It has been increasingly difficult to work to save it. And I think it will still be challenged heavily in these coming months. I believe Europe has an interest and a responsibility to do everything it can, and member states as well, to create the conditions for the deal to continue to be implemented or to go back to full implementation.

What lessons have you learnt in your role as High Representative of the EU?

I've learned that you need to choose your battles very carefully, not in terms of which battles you can win but which battles are worth fighting for. No matter how difficult they are, if they are relevant and important, then they deserve all your energy and even the risk of losing them.

The other lesson I've learned, more on a personal basis, is that you can smile and still be very tough, clear and respected. And you don't have to be afraid of showing that you are ready to listen and to compromise.

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