June 2022 Monthly Forecast

SECURITY COUNCIL AND WIDER UN STRUCTURE

EU-UN Cooperation

Expected Council Action

In June, the Security Council will hold its annual meeting on strengthening EU-UN cooperation under the agenda item “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security”. Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Olta Xhaçka is expected to chair the meeting. The anticipated briefers are EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.

Background and Key Recent Developments

Strengthening cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations—as envisioned in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter—has become an increasingly prominent theme for the Security Council. Cooperation between the UN and the EU has evolved significantly over the years. In addition to contributing troops and police for UN peacekeeping missions, the EU fields its own missions through the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), some of which are mandated by the Security Council.

The Council has maintained the practice of holding regular—usually annual—briefings on cooperation between the EU and the UN since 2010. (Briefings were not held in 2012 and 2018.) Since 2013, Council members have also held annual informal meetings with members of the EU Political and Security Committee.

The Council formally endorsed EU-UN cooperation in a 14 February 2014 presidential statement. Among other things, the statement welcomed the EU’s cooperation with the UN, its role in the maintenance of international peace and security and in the implementation of Council-mandated tasks.

Council briefings on EU-UN cooperation have generally addressed areas of cooperation between the two organisations, with Borrell presenting the EU’s main foreign policy priorities and objectives and addressing current crises that overlap on the EU and Security Council agendas. This year, the war in Ukraine is expected to be a central focus of Borrell’s briefing.

Borrell has insisted that the EU is not fighting against Russia but is defending Ukraine, saying on 9 May that rather than viewing the conflict as a “story of the West against Russia”, the war in Ukraine is “an issue about the [UN] Charter” and respect for state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states. He has also sought to make a distinction between Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting that the EU is not “against the Russian people” and stressing instead that this is “one person’s war”.

The EU has adopted unprecedented economic and financial measures against Russia, imposing five major packages of sanctions since 23 February. These include financial sanctions on Russian officials, including Putin; removal of Russian banks from the SWIFT international financial system; denial of Russia’s borrowing privileges at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; a ban on Russian airlines in EU airspace; restrictions on exports to Russia of high-tech goods that could be used militarily; an increase in import tariffs; and a ban on Russian imported goods including iron, steel, coal, wood, cement, fertilisers, seafood, and liquor. In view of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the EU introduced humanitarian exceptions on 13 April to some of its sanctions to ensure that organisations in Ukraine were able to circumvent restrictive measures as needed for the delivery of assistance.

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, the EU agreed, for the first time in its history, to finance the purchase and delivery of weapons to a country. On 28 February, the EU pledged 500 million euros towards supplies of lethal and non-lethal products to Ukraine. Three times since then, the EU has added a further 500 million euros (on 23 March, 13 April and 13 May), for a total of two billion euros since the start of the war. Borrell has recently advocated the seizure of frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help rebuild Ukraine after the war. Experts have estimated that the cost of rebuilding Ukraine could run into hundreds of billions of euros, of which Europe is expected to bear the main share. In an interview on 9 May, Borrell said, “This is one of the most important political questions on the table: who is going to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine?”

Another EU foreign policy priority is contributing to stability in the Western Balkans. At a press conference on 27 February, Borrell said that Russian influence “will have an impact on the Western Balkans”, adding that countries in that region should align their foreign policy with the EU. Borrell visited the Western Balkans from 13 to 16 March, after which he maintained that “Russia’s insidious and well-documented disinformation campaigns” have increased substantially since the start of the war in Ukraine. During an informal dinner with leaders of Western Balkan states on 11 May, Borrell stressed that the EU and Western Balkan states “will act jointly to face Russia’s disruptive actions directly in the region—[such as] through disinformation and cyberattacks”.

The EU has also been heavily involved in efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear programme and provides sanctions relief. Borrell serves as the coordinator of the Joint Commission, which is composed of the parties to the agreement—at present, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and Iran. The agreement, which was endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2231 (2015), has faced a precarious future since the US withdrew in May 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating terms of the agreement a year later. Negotiations to revive the JCPOA have been stalled for months. At a press briefing on 13 May, however, Borrell said that the negotiations “have been reopened” following a visit to Iran by Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora on 7 May.

Cooperation between the EU and the UN is especially evident in Africa. The EU contributes to salaries for the UN-authorised AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and provides training for Somali security forces through its CSDP framework. On 15 October 2021, the EU launched a new military training mission in Mozambique (EUTM Mozambique) to help address the situation in Cabo Delgado, where violence perpetrated by non-state actors has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Council Dynamics

The EU members of the Council have sought to coordinate their positions and present a unified front on several issues on the Council’s agenda, including Kosovo, Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Another practice that has emerged over the last several years has been for the EU members of the Council (including incoming and recent former members) to make joint statements at the Council media stakeout.

Presently, two Council members—France and Ireland—are EU members. The UK, which is no longer a member of the EU since 31 January 2020, has occasionally joined EU members in making joint statements. Albania has been an official candidate for EU accession since June 2014, having applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009. Accession talks began in March 2020.

At the June 2021 briefing on EU-UN cooperation, Russia said its relations with the EU were “at their lowest ebb in history”. The relationship between the two has deteriorated precipitously following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. On 12 May, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov noted that the EU has gone from being a “constructive economic platform” to becoming “aggressive and bellicose”. Russia is expected to criticise the EU’s use of sanctions and its supplying of arms to Ukraine.

UN DOCUMENTS ON EU-UN COOPERATION
Security Council Presidential Statements
14 February 2014S/PRST/2014/4 This was a presidential statement on cooperation between the UN and the EU, highlighting the EU’s comprehensive approach to maintenance of international peace and security.
Security Council Meeting Records
10 June 2021S/PV.8792 This was the annual meeting on strengthening EU-UN cooperation.