EU-U.S.: Consultations between the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino
On December 1 and 2, 2022, United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino met in Washington, D.C. to further reinforce the EU-U.S. strategic partnership including through the fourth high-level meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China and the third meeting of the U.S.-EU High-Level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific. They affirmed that the United States and European Union have never been more aligned on our strategic outlooks. They also underlined the strong joint transatlantic resolve in defending freedom, democracy, and human rights worldwide. They stressed their ongoing commitment to take further coordinated action to address the current global challenges.
On December 1, United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino met in Washington to hold the fourth high-level meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China.
They discussed their respective bilateral relations with China and their likely future trajectory in light of the changing strategic environment. They reiterated that the United States’ and EU’s respective relations with China are multifaceted and underscored the importance of the United States and the EU maintaining continuous and close contact on their approaches. Both the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary reiterated that they remain open to substantive engagements with China on areas of shared interest, from the environment and climate to health and food security.
They also emphasized the importance of economic diversification and resilient supply chains. They reaffirmed particular concern about and opposition to China’s recent and ongoing economic coercion of international economies and committed to deepen efforts to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.
The Deputy Secretary and Secretary General discussed respective exchanges with China on Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, including Russia’s blatant disregard of nuclear safety and security.
The Secretary General and Deputy Secretary discussed shared efforts to press China to urge Russia to end its war of choice in Ukraine. They reiterated their call not to circumvent or undermine sanctions against Russia, and not to provide any form of support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. They reaffirmed that such support would have consequences for our respective relationships with China. They also expressed concern about China’s repeated and ongoing information manipulation, including amplification of pro-Kremlin disinformation on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as China’s efforts to control narratives and suppress the flow of independent information on other key topics worldwide.
They discussed China’s activities and initiatives in multilateral fora, noting that U.S. and EU objectives will continue to focus on protecting the centrality of the UN Charter. They decided to continue deepening partnerships on multilateral issues affecting all countries, and promoting respect for international law and principles, and respect for human rights, including the right to peaceful protest. They also called on China to treat foreign diplomats in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. They further called upon all lenders, including China, to pursue sustainable and transparent lending practices and work cooperatively to address debt vulnerabilities in low income and developing countries.
On Taiwan, they underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait where the United States and EU have clear interests, including in the maintenance of stability, and where regional and global security and prosperity are at stake. They expressed concern about China’s provocations that increase the risk of crisis in the Strait, which would not only undermine peace and stability across the Strait, but also have serious impacts on the broader region and jeopardize global prosperity. They reiterated their commitment to maintaining the status quo and opposition to any unilateral actions which undermine it. They called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues and reaffirmed that there is no change in their long-standing basic positions on Taiwan, including their respective one China policies.
They also shared their assessments of China’s unilateral actions in the East and South China Seas. With respect to the South China Sea, they reiterated their shared concerns regarding China’s expansive maritime claims, which are not consistent with international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They emphasized the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS, which sets out the legal framework that governs all activities in the ocean and the seas.
Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino reiterated their serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, including in Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Hong Kong, which requires urgent attention by the international community at large. They affirmed everyone around the world has the right to peacefully protest, mindful of the ongoing protests in China. They emphasized that the assessment published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed the grave human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang, the network of “political re-education” camps, widespread surveillance, systemic restrictions on freedom of religion or belief against Uyghurs and other persons belonging to minority groups, and the use of forced labor. They also shared concerns about transnational repression tactics and measures, which impact peaceful activists and members of minority groups and their families.
On December 2, 2022, Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino held the third high-level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific, confirming a shared U.S.-EU commitment to upholding the rules-based international order in the region. They reviewed their work together and with partners in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. They expressed their support for strengthening cooperation with partners in the region based on these values and multilateral rules-based frameworks.
They affirmed their intent to improve regional connectivity, including through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment and Global Gateway, and coordination between the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and the European Investment Bank regarding their respective activities in the Indo-Pacific region. They noted the growing challenges facing the Indo-Pacific countries in terms of foreign information manipulation and interference and committed to supporting free and resilient media environments in the region.
Both sides reaffirmed their intention to work together with countries in the region and their support for the unity and centrality of ASEAN, as well as for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. They emphasized the urgency of addressing the worsening political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar/Burma, and recommitted to working together to press the military regime in Myanmar/Burma to cease its violence, release those unjustly detained, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and restore the country on a path to inclusive and genuine democracy.
They affirmed their intention to deepen their exchanges on their respective engagement with the Pacific Island countries (PICs), stressing their shared commitment to directing support towards priorities owned and driven by their PICs partners. The Secretary General and Deputy Secretary noted India’s important regional and global role and looked forward to partnering with India to address pressing international challenges as it assumes the G20 Presidency for 2023.
They committed to further pursue their coordination and complementary work for regional maritime security, including conducting a joint U.S.-EU naval exercise in the first half of 2023 and pursuing joint capacity-building efforts in the maritime domain to support freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of the sea in the Indo-Pacific.
Separate from the Dialogue on China and Consultations on the Indo-Pacific, Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman met bilaterally to discuss a range of global security issues and shared priorities.
They commended the continued exceptional transatlantic unity and EU-U.S. close coordination and cooperation in response to Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine. They reaffirmed the EU and United States’ unwavering commitment to continue providing the financial, humanitarian, defense, political, technical, and legal support Ukraine needs to alleviate the suffering of its people and to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. They reiterated the call on Russia to immediately stop its war of aggression against Ukraine and withdraw all its forces and military equipment from Ukraine’s territory. They condemned Russia’s recent escalation, including its widespread attacks against cities and civilian infrastructure across Ukraine using missiles and Iranian drones and trainers.
They reaffirmed the joint commitment to help mitigate the consequences of Russia’s war of aggression on global economic stability and international food, nutrition, and energy security by both addressing acute needs and making medium to long term investments in resilient systems.
Recognizing the necessary revitalization of international and multilateral organizations, and quality, transparent and inclusive sustainable cooperation as a key prerequisite for the preservation of the rules-based international order, they emphasized the need to deepen engagement with partners throughout the world to address shared challenges.
Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino committed to continuing their close consultations and decided to hold the next high-level meetings under the U.S.-EU China Dialogue and Consultations on the Indo-Pacific in Brussels in the first half of 2023. They welcomed the second meeting of the EU-U.S. Security and Defense Dialogue taking place in Washington, D.C. on December 14, 2022.