Josep Borrell has a track record of accommodating the Kremlin’s positions over those of the European Union, and therefore should not lead EU foreign policy
In light of the Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Georgia and Ukraine, together with its interference in European democracies via malign disinformation operations, cyber-attacks, support for extremist groups, and even a military-grade chemical attack on EU soil, we have been disappointed by the weak performance of outgoing EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, who has consistently appeased the Kremlin during her time in office and failed to adequately confront its hostile behaviour towards Europe.
On Tuesday, July 2nd, the European Council nominated Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell as the next EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy.
However, during his 12-month tenure as Spanish Foreign Minister, Mr. Borrell’s posture towards Russia has raised serious concerns at least on three separate occasions:
- In November 2018, Mr. Borrell agreed with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Spain and Russia would set up a joint cyber-security working group to address disinformation, ignoring the fact that Russia is the number one source of hostile foreign disinformation in Europe. Although the EU has an official counter-disinformation strategy and a dedicated team of experts devoted to exposing Russia’s disinformation efforts, Mr. Borrell instead chose to team up with the Kremlin, contradicting the positions of both the European Council and the European Parliament.
- In November 2018, despite the opposition of NATO allies and the Spanish opposition, Mr. Borrell aided the Russian military when he was among the Spanish ministers who allowed Russian ships to refuel in Spanish ports after they bombed Syria.
- In June 2019, Mr. Borrell praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s position on Catalonia, despite the EU’s expert institution on disinformation publicly warning about Russian interference in the Catalan referendum, and despite agreement by EU foreign ministers to step up the European Union’s efforts to counter Russian disinformation following this interference.
On these three occasions, Mr. Borrell has effectively sided with the Russian Federation on major geopolitical and security issues, in direct contradiction with the positions of the EU or Spain’s allies.
We believe that someone who has repeatedly failed to confront the Russian security threat to the EU and who has a track record of siding with Russia instead of EU allies should not be in charge of the EU’s foreign and security policy. If Josep Borrell becomes the new High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Russia will be encouraged, not deterred, in its hostile activities and attempts to destabilise Europe. Accordingly, we urge European leaders and the European Parliament to reconsider Mr. Borrell’s nomination.