The crisis in Europe: the stance of the High Representative of the European Union

The vice-president of the European Union, namely the High Representative, Josep Borrell, managed to convey his point of view on the Russian aggression of Ukraine. The last time was in occasion of the meeting of the Head States from the European countries, in Versailles, 10 March 2022. However, it’s in a shared post on his blog, from the previous week, that the intentions of the Union with respect to this new Russian aggression can be found. The Russian aggression of Ukraine represents a turning point for Europe so that, according to Borrell, it is now definitely called to act in a unified manner from a geopolitical point of view. The Ukraine crisis sets as the first invasion of a European state by another European one since the end of WWII, thus bringing back to memory the events that had caused the outbreak of the war. 

In his declaration, Borrell, stresses how the period of peace lasted since the end of the WWII has given the impression of weakening the dream of a ideally solid Europe; nonetheless, in the bosom of the Union a topic on everyone’s lips is the possibility to set common defense policies. Indeed, the project of the European Defense Fund (EDF) has been approved by the European Parliament and there has been then the implementation of two assistance measures by way of the European Instrument for peace, in order to support Ukraine. In addition, since mid of November 2021 the Union was foreseen to set the “Strategic Compass” in March 2022, aimed at operating in a variety of strategic sectors to ensure a common and effective response on defense and security in the Union. The Russian aggression, continues Borrow, shows that “to reach peace two parties are needed, while, to make war one is enough”. The High Representative admits that, taken the last-month developments into account, Europe may have failed in the deterrence objective towards Russia. This aspect, however, is only one from which we may take inspiration in order to weigh up new modes of reacting to the most strenuous counterparts.

Another topic strictly related to the Ukraine conflict and to the following sanctions is the energy. Borrell states that, in the past, he had already had the chance to remark Putin that Europe would not have made compromises on gas, at the expense of human rights. Its stance was confirmed on the 10th March in Versailles: “we must make less use of gas - climate needs that. For once, climate and geopolitics go hand in hand”. Considering that the most probable choice, in Italy, would be the carbon to compensate the loss of the Russian gas, at least in the short-term period, by foreseeing the reopening of some closed centrals, we hope that the High Representative’s objective will effectively be reached. Anyway, his stance on the gas usage as an energy source was already highlighted in his 3-March post: “we spend 700 million Euros per day to import gas, oil and carbon. I have heard so many people supporting the fact that this dependance must be reduced. However, I have heard this statement for twenty years, but this dependance is still to be decreased. (…) we must react now. We must put our beliefs into practice. We must increase the renewable sources and support the productive abilities of the green hydrogen”. 

After the applaud of the decision by 141 States in the General Assembly of the United Nation, in which Ukraine was supported and Russian behavior condemned, as this last was in breach of the United Nations Chart and of the international rights, Burrell highlighted that the main purpose has to be the end of the hostilities, so that diplomacy gains ground. Nonetheless, it has been enhanced that Europe must become an hard power force, in a less traditional sense of the word’s meaning in comparison with the one that seeks influence on other States in the military field. Europe is believed, as Borrell states, to have proved its ability to influence the other countries’ behavior, without blowing harm.

The main priority, however, is the conclusion of the ongoing conflict: “in any way, the negotiation and dialogue are the core of the European Union. We did not declare war and we’re ready to make benefit of our diplomatic tools to reach a negotiated settlement. Sanctions are needed and inevitable but, besides this, solutions are essential, starting from ceasing fire”. The situation in Ukraine is dramatic from every perspective, as population has been forced either to leave its country or to pick up arms, by causing damage to the involved areas and cities. Hoping for the end of the conflict, the High Commissioner stressed the Europe’s role to reach an agreement.

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  • L'Autore

    Alessandro Micalef

    Laureato in Giurisprudenza all'Università degli Studi di Milano.

    Ha una propensione per lo studio delle materie umanistiche sin dagli anni del liceo, soprattutto quelle storiche.

    Durante i suoi studi universitari sviluppa un interesse per il Diritto Internazionale ed Europeo, più in particolare per i Diritti dell’Uomo in entrambi i contesti.

    Oggetto della sua tesi di laurea è stato il caso che coinvolge Gambia e Myanmar davanti alla Corte Internazionale di Giustizia, in cui il Myanmar viene accusato di genocidio ai danni della minoranza etnica Rohingya.

    All’interno di Mondo Internazionale è autore per l’area tematica di Organizzazioni Internazionali.

    Law Graduate from Università degli Studi di Milano.

    He has a propensity for humanistic subjects since high school, especially for historical ones.

    During his academic studies, he develops an interest for International Law and European Law, in particular Human Rights in both contexts.

    His final dissertation was related to the case concerning The Gambia and Myanmar in front of the International Court of Justice, where Myanmar is accused of genocide perpetrated against Rohingya ethnic minority.

    Within Mondo Internazionale he is author in the context of International Organizations.


From the World Europe Sections International Organizations


Unione Europea Alto Rappresentante Borrell Russia

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