Relations between the EU and the US are one of the “key pillars of the world order,” the EU High Representative Josep Borrell said after EU Foreign Ministers met virtually with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 15 June. 

Following a strategic dialogue focused on China, the Middle-East peace process and the Eastern Partnership, Borrell stressed that the “EU commitment to transatlantic cooperation is as strong as ever.” 

His comments come at a time when affinity between Washington and Brussels reaches a low point. The two disagree on several issues, including EU strategic autonomy and the approach to China - for which Borrell recently ruled out EU alignment with Washington.

But this time, the High Representative made clear that it is important for the EU “to stay together with the US” in its relationship with China, in order to “share concerns and look for a common ground to defend [EU and US] values and interests”. And he mentioned a proposal made to Pompeo for a bilateral dialogue between Washington and Beijing.

Following last week’s incident in which a Greek vessel from Operation Irini was prevented from inspecting a suspect freighter by its Turkish military escort, Brussels and Washington also agreed “on the need for de-escalation [in the Eastern Mediterranean] and return to true partnership” with Turkey, amid reports suggesting the bloc might ask NATO to provide support to the EU operation. 

However, despite this convergence, the EU and US still diverge on other issues. These include the US plan for a Middle-East peace process, which Borrell said is not in line with “international agreed parameters,” even though it creates a “certain momentum” for a possibility which might be used to launch an international process. 

The High Representative also regretted the US decision to withdraw from the WHO, expressing the hope that Washington will reconsider their decision, since “multilateral cooperation is more needed than ever.”

Caterina Tani in Brussels for MON

Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy during the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Photo: EU Council)

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