Hague Institute Photo

EU’s Contribution to Common Global Rules: Challenges in an Age of Power Shifts

Hague Institute Photo

On Tuesday 8 December, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, organized and hosted a high-level discussion on the EU’s forthcoming  Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. The event focused on how the Union and its Member States can promote a rules-based international system and effective multilateral institutions in a rapidly changing environment marked by numerous crises and challenges.

The event featured keynote remarks from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Bert Koenders and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Abi Williams, President of The Hague Institute,  emphasized the urgent need for  common global rules and more effective global governance. In light of the many ongoing crises worldwide, he argued, global governance is perceived as being in a profound state of crisis. Dr. Williams underlined the centrality of unity and European integration to effective global governance and global justice. Noting the commitments of the European Union to international security and the rule of law, Dr. Williams concluded that the EU’s strategic review process will make an important contribution to global governance and advancing common rules.

Foreign Minister Koenders reiterated that the current multilateral system is under great pressure  and that “the drafting of the [EU’s] global strategy comes not a moment too soon.” He emphasized that the strategy’s vision for global governance should be solid, ambitious and cooperative, while also remaining realistic. “We can be modest and assertive at the same time,” he argued with regards to the European contribution to a multilateral and peaceful world. Minister Koenders further commented on the rising role of private initiatives; acknowledging that some of these initiatives are born out of frustration and reflect challenges to the legitimacy of multilateral organizations. He argued that multilateral organizations must be reformed so as to remain inclusive and effective.

In the face of a multitude of new challenges, High Representative Mogherini noted the importance of a vision and a strategy for the present and the future. “We cannot be led by fear,” she stated, “we cannot act impulsively.” Mogherini highlighted the importance of addressing conflicts far away, at the borders and beyond the EU, all of which create insecurity within the Union. In this context, Mogherini underlined the importance of the new strategy for the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. She particularly emphasized that the new strategy must be for all European citizens, and as such, public debate will be an essential part of the consultation process.

Furthermore, High Representative Mogherini commented on the need for global partnerships and a new global order, and posited that the EU must act as a driving force, in light of its power and common vision. She noted the need to support regional integration and cooperation, and ultimately, she concluded that the EU’s strategy should place it as a connector within the multilateral system. “We have to think mega-regional and minilateral at the same time,” she said, pointing to  the need for an EU Strategy aimed at thinking globally, brokering regionally, and acting locally.

The keynote remarks were followed by a questions and answer session, moderated by Dr. Abi Williams. Several questions concerned the involvement of outside partners in an institutional debate on the EU and the involvement of non-state actors in a EU strategy. Foreign Minister Koenders noted that unlike other regional organizations or states, the EU asks partners for their views and involves them in security processes. High Representative Mogherini commented that security and foreign policy are interlinked and that accordingly the EU’s involvement in Asia is to be reciprocated by involving China in its own institutional debates. With regards to the involvement of non-state actors, she remarked that the EU is itself not a state actor, and that the involvement of private actors is crucially to acting locally, as they possess a clear vision at a local level.

Following this public event, several closed expert consultations, which put the focus on The EU’s Contribution to Common Global Rules, were convened. These consultations with leading experts in EU foreign policy, global governance, European and international law, and multilateral diplomacy – including external perspectives from emerging powers and key partners of the EU, and civil society – sought to elaborate on the themes of the EU’s role in developing the international legal order, promote effective multilateral institutions and engage non-state actors in tackling the most pressing global challenges.

Watch the discussion here:

Further Reading

Active: Distinguished Speaker Series

The Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) showcases eminent practitioners in international affairs and is the centerpiece of the Institute’s high-level engagement with practitioners and academics in the city…


Rule of Law

The Rule of Law Program fosters accountability and trust in societies in transition by supporting effective formal and informal justice institutions. The overarching goal…