EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell looks on as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands during the
EU top brass’ visit to Ukraine on 8 April 2022
A Guidepost Report
Spanish politician Josep Borrell is currently the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. That’s the formal title of what the media and commentators like to refer to, for shorthand, as EU Foreign Minister. Borrell has been so since 1 December 2019. As High Representative, Borrell is, ex officio, a Vice President of the European Commission (HR/VP), the High Representative of “a stronger Europe in the world,” as his post’s motto puts it.
Having close ties with, and holding various offices in, the European Union for years, Borrell was a member of the European Parliament (2004 — 2009) during most of which time he served as President of the said institution (July 2004-January 2007).
At home in Spain, he has been active in local politics since the 1970s when the country transitioned from dictatorship to democracy. He is a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and as such he has held different positions under socialist governments. In 2018, shortly before he was appointed EU Foreign Minister by the European Council, he became minister of foreign affairs in the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Borrell, who was born on 24 April 1947 in the Catalan city of Lleida, studied aeronautical engineering at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), holds a Master’s degree in Operational Research from Stanford University in Palo Alto (California), a Master’s degree in Energy Economics from the French Institute of Petroleum in Paris, and a PhD in Economics from the Complutense University of Madrid.
Back to Europe: Per the European Commission, the Vice-President in charge of coordinating the external action of the European Union chairs the Commissioners’ Group on a Stronger Europe in the World. In that crucial position, “he shapes the standing of the European Union on the global stage” with a view to enhancing Europe’s leadership and influence in the world. He must work to strengthen the Union’s capacity to act autonomously and promote its values and interests globally. It falls on the HR/VP to ensure that the EU’s external financial instruments are used strategically and in a manner that will contribute to the achievement of the EU’s wider political aims.
Moreover — and this has acquired a special significance in view of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the consequent threat to global peace and security — the HR/VP is responsible for leading the EU towards a European Defence Union.
But how does Mr Borrell approach all these weighty responsibilities within the context of the current global situation? How does he view the world where he must operate as HR/VP? How does he propose to solve the pressing problems?
For Part 1 of the SPANISH POLITICAL LEADERS CRUCIAL TO EU DIPLOMACY click here.
Featured image ©european Union, 2022. Source: EC Audiovisual Service
Borrell as State Secretary of Finance/Ministry of the Presidency.Government of Spain, CCO
Borrell at a press conference on EU defence, ©European Union, 2022. source: EC-Audiovisual Service
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