EU@UNGA76: Shaping the vision for a sustainable recovery and a world more secure


The European Union concluded a week of intense diplomatic work at the United Nation’s General Assembly High-level week. The landmark event gathered world leaders to debate the pressing challenges of our times and shape the vision of a more equitable and sustainable world after the pandemic. The EU renewed its support for an effective UN-centred multilateralism and engaged in the global debate for a sustainable and inclusive global recovery, and for a safer and more stable world.


High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell hosted and participated in a large number of high-level events and bilateral meetings. The recently announced defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, the strong alliance between the United States and the EU, the Iran nuclear deal, the situation in Afghanistan and Mali featured high on his agenda.

On Monday, 20 September, High Representative Borrell participated in the traditional EU-UN Principals’ meeting. Together with President Ursula von der Leyen and President Charles Michel, he met the UN Secretary General, António Guterres. The meeting confirmed EU’s sustained commitment to a UN -based effective multilateral governance capable to respond to current global challenges. The EU-UN joint work in the UN75 process on “Our Common Agenda” is a unique opportunity to transform and upgrade the UN system and EU-UN Principals agreed to hold regular EU-UN leaders’ meetings to reinforce the EU-UN strategic partnership. The meeting also focussed on the recent developments in Afghanistan as well as on the need to work jointly to address climate change, in the lead-up to COP26 and beyond.

High Representative Borrell, President von der Leyen and President Michel, at the opening session of UNGA.

On the same day, the High Representative chaired the informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers where political priorities and a coordinated presence @UNGA76 were agreed. Exchanges covered the situation in Afghanistan, the recently announced defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region (AUKUS), and the situation in Mali.

On the situation in Afghanistan in the context of the EU’s presence on the ground, HR/VP Borrell stressed that: “[…] To be in touch with the Afghan government, does not mean at all […] a formal recognition or legitimacy on the caretaker government.” He drew attention to the global impacts of the current situation in the absence of international support: a renewed threat of terrorism and criminal activities related to drug trafficking.

The exchanges on AUKUS reflected strong unity among EU Foreign Affairs Ministers. A shared message of solidarity to France was conveyed. The High Representative Borrell had met earlier in the day the Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne. The meeting was an opportunity to recall the EU’s determination to continue implementing its recently adopted Indo-Pacific strategy and to underline the need for ”more cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation […] to achieve a stable and peaceful environment in the Indo-Pacific region”.

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The meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian covered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.  In his role of coordinator of JCPOA Joint Commission, HR/VP Borrell made clear the fundamental need for full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the Iranian side and the immediate importance of the quick resumption of negotiations to bring the JCPOA back to full implementation. The meeting concluded with the Iranian part committing to return to the negotiating table. On Afghanistan, both parties agreed on the interest to cooperate to avoid threats to regional stability.

On Tuesday, 21 September, High Representative Josep Borrell attended the opening of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, and held a series of bilateral meetings.

High Representative Josep Borrell and Colombian FM Marta Lucía Ramírez sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

High Representative Josep Borrell and Marta Lucía Ramírez, Foreign Affairs Minister of Colombia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding opening a new chapter in the EU-Colombia longstanding relations, in the presence of President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez.

This memorandum will not only allow us to strengthen our partnership, further strengthen our cooperation on foreign policy issues, but also opens the prospect of an ambitious new political framework for our relations. The implementation of the 2016 peace agreement, as contribution to global peace and security, will remain at the heart of our engagement.”, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell said.

HR/VP Borrell then met with members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) to discuss the latest developments in the region and the prospects for a strengthened EU-GCC dialogue and cooperation. The High Representative acknowledged the positive dynamics of a reinvigorated GCC that contributes to de-escalating tensions in the region and offers opportunities for enhanced EU-GCC institutional engagement on strategic areas of mutual interest.

In the evening, High Representative Borrell hosted an informal working dinner with Western Balkans leaders. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss expectations on EU accession and covered more broadly the situation in the region and EU-Western Balkans relations. The High Representative underlined the need for strong commitment from both the Western Balkans partners and the European Union and its Member States to overcome current dynamics and move the process forward. His agenda of the day also included bilateral encounters with Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. He also met Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Foreign Minister of Qatar.

On Wednesday 22 September, HR/VP Borrell met US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on issues related to the transatlantic agenda and pressing international developments.

Both parties welcomed the joint statement by President Biden and French President Macron following the recent announcement of the security partnership in the Indo-Pacific and agreed that the EU and the US would work on practical steps to deepen dialogue and cooperation, including stability in the Indo-Pacific region. In relation to EU’s defence efforts, the High Representative recalled the need to launch a comprehensive structured dialogue on security and defence.

Meeting between HR/VP Borrell and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

The meeting further addressed key issues of common concern, including Afghanistan and Iran, as well as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue. The High Representative referred to his cooperation with neighbours of Afghanistan and to the benchmarks that will determine the level of EU engagement with the Taliban, underlining the EU’s commitment to the Afghanistan people and expressing concern over the humanitarian and economic situation in the country.  The JCPOA remains a key instrument for global non-proliferation, peace in the region and for international security. The High Representative further stressed the need for discussions to resume in Vienna for fully delivery of JCPOA implementation.  

HR/VP Borrell’s agenda continued with an exchange with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Berlin Process on Libya, convened by Germany, France and Italy. He further held discussions with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G20 countries on Afghanistan. Later, he met the Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrés Allamand (Chile) on the situation in Chile, regional issues and the negotiations for a new EU-Chile association agreement; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Pakistan) on the regional implications of recent developments in Afghanistan. The day concluded with a working dinner with African leaders, hosted by President Michel.

On Thursday 23 September, High Representative Borrell met Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov. The discussion aimed to establish a more stable and predictable relationship in spite of persistent disagreements, in particular on Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, on democracy and human rights, as well as on cyber, disinformation and hybrid threats. The parties addressed global security challenges requiring cooperation: Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, the Middle East Peace Process or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

High Representative Borrell and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet in the margins of UNGA.

To mark the 25th Anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the High Representative delivered a statement on behalf of the EU at the ministerial conference on article XIV of the CTBT. He stressed that the entry into force of the CTBT represents the international community’s collective responsibility to put an end to nuclear testing.  

“Promoting the entry into force and universalisation of the CTBT remains a top priority of the European Union. All 27 EU Member States have ratified the Treaty, and we remain strongly committed to it. The EU calls on all States, which have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty, without any preconditions or delay. In particular, we call on the remaining eight Annex II States: China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the US, that still have to ratify the Treaty, and the DPRK, India and Pakistan that still have to sign and ratify it.”

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The High Representative delivered a message during the meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism that took place on the same day. 

On his agenda figured also meetings with Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) as well as with the Foreign Ministers of Perú (Óscar Maúrtua), Bangladesh (Abul Kalam Abdul Momen), Mali (Abdoulaye Diop) and Turkey (Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu). The meeting with the Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu covered the need for closer cooperation on issues such as Cyprus, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and Afghanistan.

On Friday 24 September, the HR/VP Borrell attended the General Debate of the UN General Assembly where President Michel delivered a statement on behalf of the EU. In the margins of the General Assembly, HR/VP Borrell held a final round of bilateral talks with the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Algeria.  

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