Innehållet publicerades under perioden 3 oktober 2014 till den 20 januari 2019

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 10 september 2019 var hon utrikesminister.

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 10 september 2019 var hon utrikesminister.

Utrikesministerns anförande vid Hertie School of Governance, Berlin


The EU in a rapidly changing world: where do we go from here?

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Professor Doctor Anheier,


We meet at a time marked by the destruction of war and by the desperation of refugees.

A gardener in Aleppo asks for peace, but is silenced by bombs.

A Yazidi woman wants to study, but Daesh makes her a sex slave.

A family dreams about Canada, but a little boy is washed up on a Turkish beach.

We meet at a time marked by the return of geopolitical rivalries and aggressive nationalism.

The very foundations of how we live together are being challenged: Russia tries to move borders through aggression and challenges the European security order; another nuclear test is conducted by North Korea.

Our political landscape is revisited by the spectres of xenophobia, autocrats, demagogues, fear-mongering and flat-out lies.

But to paraphrase a man who might soon become the First Gentleman of the United States:

There is nothing wrong in our world that cannot be cured with what is right in our world.

And dear future European leaders:

There is nothing wrong with Europe that cannot be cured with what is right in Europe.

We are right whenever elections are fair, voices are free, and courts are faultless.

We are right when openness, diversity and trade create decent jobs and equality.

We are right when we unite around seventeen Sustainable Development Goals.

We are right when we agree in Paris to save our planet.

We are right whenever peace and diplomacy trump violence.

And we are right to believe that when we work together – the very basis of our European project – there are better days ahead.

* * *

In times of challenges and opportunities, it is always a pleasure to visit friends.

I am pleased to be here in Berlin – one of Europe's most vibrant cities – in the context of the Swedish State Visit.

Germany is not only Sweden's largest trading partner, but also a very important political ally.

And since we are in Berlin, it is pertinent to recall the late Willy Brandt.

We all know that Willy Brandt had to spend parts of his life in Norway and Sweden.

And as I turn to address today's topic – The EU in a rapidly changing world – some of the lessons that Willy Brandt's life taught us are more relevant than ever:

Our destinies are common.

When in need we help each other.

Europe is stronger when we are united.

And our world is stronger if we bridge the gap between our peoples.

* * *

Let me describe three major challenges that have shaken Europe in the past decade.

And let me then conclude with what I see as five key reforms and initiatives.

* * *

First of all: the financial crisis and the economic turmoil of recent years have had a profound impact on our societies.

They have increased inequalities and gaps between different groups within our Union, and strained the social fabric of Europe.

They have also damaged public trust and confidence in the EU and its institutions.

In some countries hit by austerity measures, there is a feeling of having been treated unfairly.

In other countries, there is discontent and a perceived obligation to pay for other people's problems.

However, we must remember that our economies are intertwined through the Single Market.

The crisis put the EU's problem-solving capacity to the test, and in the end we managed to find common solutions.

But the aftermath of the financial crisis has also had a major impact on the European labour market.

If you are in doubt, talk to the young people in Europe.

Unemployment levels are still too high in many Member States, and this risks sparking social tension.

This is a clear sign that we must continue our reforms, investments and structural measures.

Current actions at EU level appear to be having an effect, and youth unemployment levels are actually falling in most Member States right now.

This trend needs to be strengthened further.

A bright future for the EU is linked to its bright young people and their prospects of being offered decent jobs and opportunities to shape their own lives.

* * *

Secondly, the refugee crisis, the largest movement of people since the Second World War.

People are fleeing from war and oppression, with the hope of finding protection and a decent life – for example in Europe.

We have a joint responsibility to take care of those in need and to protect their right to asylum.

It is a moral obligation; it is the right thing to do.

And, may I add, history has shown that migration normally turns out to be an opportunity for the country that receives ambitious and hard-working citizens.

However, the refugee crisis has also created new tensions in the EU.

Sweden, together with Germany, has welcomed a significant number of refugees.

But for the European asylum system to be sustainable in the long-term, all Member States must shoulder their share of responsibility.

* * *

The third European challenge that I would like to address is Brexit.

The Brexit debate is, just like the refugee crisis, affecting the internal dynamics of our Union.

I deeply regret the result of the referendum – it is certainly not what Sweden and Europe had hoped for.

Nonetheless, it is important to respect the will of the British people.

And now it is important that the EU 27 stand united and strive to work in a spirit of solidarity, unity and trust.

We also hope for close UK-EU cooperation in the future, not least on foreign and security policy.

* * *

The British referendum also puts a spotlight on the important question of popular support for the EU, and it reveals a significant paradox.

On the one hand, EU citizens find it hard to love the EU, voters question its democratic legitimacy and tend to take for granted the many advantages that European integration has brought us.

On the other hand, when I travel to different parts of the world, I notice with pride that the EU is viewed as a shining model of regional cooperation and integration, with a strong power of attraction.

The EU and its Member States account for nearly one third of world trade, and are collectively the world's largest aid donor.

Personally, I believe that the EU, just as so many times before, will come back stronger after yet another harsh wake-up call.

And I am confident that in the long run, more countries – to our East and on the Western Balkans and beyond – will join our chosen European path.

Because it is a path where bloodshed on the battlefield is replaced with patience at the negotiating table.

European history has taught us that this is the path we have to follow.

And remember that it should always be up to the people themselves, for example in the Eastern Partnership countries, to decide whether they would like to join us on our path.

* * *

So even in the face of challenges, I remain a long-term European optimist.

So before we start our discussion, let me highlight a few areas in which we need concerted action and common solutions.

* * *

1. First of all, we need to discuss how to build security in the 21st century.

Security is by definition something we must build together. Security is something we share.

That leads us to emphasise de-escalation and disarmament, mediation and dialogue, conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

This is a cornerstone of Swedish security policy.

However, in recent years, the security situation in our immediate neighbourhood has, unfortunately, deteriorated rapidly.

Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and its aggression against Ukraine has cost nearly ten thousand lives and continues as we speak.

And the situation on the EU's southern border, the attempted coup in Turkey and the ongoing war in Syria, also require joint action.

That is why the EU's dialogue with Russia must be clear and principled, and our support to Ukraine strong.

The EU's support to the countries of the Eastern Partnership is key to their development into resilient and democratic societies.

So in order to build 'common security' and successfully meet today's multiple challenges, we need to strengthen the European tools at our disposal.

A natural starting point for such a discussion is how we use the European External Action Service.

European foreign ministers, myself included, have homework to do.

But to start with, we very much welcome the EU Global Strategy.

The EUGS has a strong commitment to values and a rules-based global order, as well as a broad-based approach using all the instruments available in external policies.

It is a central platform for the EU to respond proactively and take global responsibility.

We need to strengthen civilian crisis management operations.

We need to use all our tools.

Our military and civilian instruments, whether within the competence of the Member States or the Commission, need to work together more effectively.

We also need to be able to respond to crises more rapidly.

The concept of EU Battle Groups needs to be further developed so that they can become the rapid and flexible response force that they were designed to be.

Using rapid, flexible and adequate civilian and military resources where and when they needed to support long-term stabilisation in the full conflict cycle should be the norm.

We will actively work for the EU to move in that direction.

Sweden has a long track record and will continue to be actively engaged in crisis management, the prevention of radicalisation, respect for human rights, and women's role in peace and development.

We believe that a comprehensive and long-term approach is crucial.

Political instability, climate change, conflicts and violence affect us all in one way or another, directly or indirectly, and it is in our interest to tackle these challenges at their root, in a coherent and integrated manner.

As HRVP Mogherini puts it in her foreword to the EUGS:

"In challenging times, a strong Union is one that thinks strategically, shares a vision and acts together."

* * *

My second point is about migration policy, which also is a very important aspect of the EU's external relations.

The EU must continue to promote peace, security and development, while upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Also, since migration issues are truly global, the EU must show strong leadership in following up the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants held in September.

And in the EU we need an efficient, common asylum system, based on human rights and international law, where the reception of asylum seekers is shared collectively.

And we need to offer safe and legal routes to Europe and make dangerous Mediterranean crossings unnecessary.

A number of key decisions have already been made and these must now be implemented by all.

In the short term, we are looking at functioning hotspots for the registration of asylum seekers, full implementation of the agreement between the EU and Turkey, and enhanced cooperation with third countries of both origin and transit.

The distribution of asylum seekers in the EU, however, is very uneven.

We must find a common system where Member States share the responsibility to receive people with protection needs.

It is a matter of credibility for the EU.

* * *

Thirdly, we need a renewed focus on how the EU can better deliver on the expectations of its citizens.

The support and trust of Europe's citizens are essential to build what we appropriately call a 'People's Europe'.

Politicians have an important task here in terms of dialogue and communication.

We need to explain and seek support for EU policies in their early stages.

But we also need to stand up for joint EU decisions in their implementation phase.

The 'People's Europe' is also about defending our democracy.

Standing up to threats, hatred, xenophobia, sexism and violence against minorities.

Never accepting demonisation of religious or ethnic groups.

Defending free and independent media and every person's right to meet and move freely in society.

These democratic values are the foundation of our Union.

* * *

My fourth point is about what we often call a social Europe.

We need an EU that works harder for the well-being of its people.

In a social Europe, growth and social progress go hand in hand.

Workers in the EU should not be forced to compete against each other on the basis of lower wages or poorer working conditions.

A social Europe strengthens people through more secure jobs and better living conditions.

As part of this work, we must also develop a strategic approach to promote gender equality and women's participation in the labour market.

If women's and men's labour force participation rates in the EU were the same, GDP could increase by 12 per cent by 2030.

Striving for a truly equal world of work is not only ethically right, it is also economically smart.

Here, education and life-long learning are key.

By investing in people and equipping them with the right skills, we can help them to adapt to changing conditions.

In the second half of 2017, Prime Minister Löfven will host a social summit in Sweden, which will be an important milestone to drive these issues forward.

* * *

My fifth point is about a green Europe, with an ambitious climate, energy and environmental policy.

I naturally welcome the Council conclusions last week calling for rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement by European countries.

But a strong energy union is also needed to ensure reduced carbon dioxide emissions and increased renewable energy and energy efficiency.

This is important not only for an efficient energy market and security of supply, but also for competiveness, sustainable growth and more jobs in Europe.

* * *


I said at the outset, we meet at a time marked by the destruction of war and by the desperation of refugees.

And there is no other way to end a speech in October 2016 then to return to the war in Syria.

Let me be clear: it is totally and utterly unacceptable to bomb civilians, children and hospitals.

Assad and Russia are moving further away from peace and humanity.

In light of the horrific situation in Aleppo and the breakdown of American attempts to have Russia recommit to the cessation of hostilities, the EU HRVP Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides launched a humanitarian initiative last Saturday.

The initiative addresses the growing needs of civilians trapped by the conflict.

But it also aims to facilitate the urgent delivery of basic life-saving assistance to civilians.

The objective is also to ensure the medical evacuation of the sick and wounded from Eastern Aleppo who are in urgent need of medical care.

The focus is on women, children and the elderly.

The EU remains a top donor to the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.

We also actively support the attempts to reach a political solution; both through Staffan de Mistura's UN mediation role, and by helping the opposition to remain united and committed to a negotiated solution.

* * *

Like all of you, I see the images coming from Syria with a broken and angry heart.

Let me assure you that both Sweden and the EU will continue to do what we can to put an end to the slaughter.

Because as Willy Brandt said:

"Peace is not everything, but without peace, everything is nothing."

Thank you. And now I am looking forward to hearing your questions.

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 10 september 2019 var hon utrikesminister.

Statsråd på denna sida som har entledigats

Mellan den 3 oktober 2014 och den 10 september 2019 var hon utrikesminister.