U.S. Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino met in Brussels on 21 and 22 April to participate in the third High-Level Meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China. Deputy Secretary Sherman welcomed the EU’s efforts to provide significant economic, military, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The two parties agreed to continue close U.S.-EU coordination to support Ukraine and hold the Russian Federation accountable for Putin’s unprovoked war and abhorrent attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
On 22 April, they issued a joint press release:
On 21 and 22 April, European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino and United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met in Brussels to once again underscore the unique strength of the EU-U.S. strategic partnership. They reaffirmed the joint transatlantic resolve in standing up for and defending freedom, democracy, and human rights, and to use all tools available in the Transatlantic relationship to take further coordinated action to tackle the current global challenges.
They commended the exceptional display of transatlantic unity and EU-U.S. coordination in response to Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, including on sanctions and export controls. They condemned in the strongest possible terms the reported atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in a number of now liberated Ukrainian towns, during the period when Russia had effective control of the area. Likewise, the EU and the U.S. condemned the continual shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure by Russian armed forces. These horrific actions show the true face of the brutal war of aggression Russia is waging against Ukraine and its people. There can be no impunity for war crimes. They plan to coordinate their activities with the objective of ensuring the perpetrators are held to account.
They welcomed the inaugural meeting of the EU-U.S. High-Level Dialogue on Russia on 30 March and stressed the importance of continued coordination on the provision of security assistance to Ukraine and the implementation and enforcement of sanctions targeting Russia and Belarus, together with other like-minded partners. They discussed coordinating global outreach efforts to maintain a broad-based international coalition of support for Ukraine, in the face of Russia’s aggression. They discussed further efforts to increase humanitarian support and initiatives to provide coordinated political, financial, material and humanitarian support to the government and people of Ukraine. They also took stock of EU and U.S. efforts to counter the Kremlin and Beijing’s propaganda and disinformation programme. They stressed continued EU-U.S. cooperation in favour of long-term sustainable peace, enhanced resilience, sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability in the wider region, including in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. They also discussed the global economic disruptions caused by the Russia’s war of aggression, underlining that Russia bears full responsibility for the global negative impact of the war it is waging against Ukraine. In this context, they highlighted the need to address the negative impact of Russia’s invasion on global food security through a coordinated effort, in close cooperation with international bodies.
Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman held the third high-level meeting of the EU-U.S. Dialogue on China. Together, they exchanged views on their respective bilateral relations with China. In particular, they held an in-depth discussion on their recent engagement with China on Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine. They underscored they will continue to urge China not to circumvent or undermine sanctions against Russia, and not to provide any form of support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and reaffirmed that such support would have consequences for our respective relationships with China. They also expressed concern about China’s repeated information manipulation, including amplification of Russia’s disinformation regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Taiwan, they underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait to regional and global security and prosperity. They expressed their support for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues, and discouraged any actions, which undermine the status quo. Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman also discussed China’s stances and activities in multilateral fora, noting that EU and U.S. objectives will continue to focus squarely on upholding international law and principles, the maintenance of the centrality of the UN Charter, and respect for human rights. They expressed particular concern about, and opposition to, recent incidents of economic coercion by China, affirming their solidarity with those targeted and underscoring the importance of international cooperation in addressing growing instances of economic coercion. They also reviewed the outcome of senior officials’ and expert-level exchanges on multilateralism, human rights, and engagement with China. They condemned the situation in Xinjiang, notably the existence of a large network of “political reeducation” camps, widespread surveillance, systemic restrictions on freedom of religion or belief against Uighurs and other persons belonging to minority groups, as well as the use of forced labour.
Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman held the second High-level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific, reiterating their resolve to engage with partners in the Indo-Pacific and reinforcing their shared interest in upholding the rules-based multilateral order in the region and advancing democracy and human rights. They exchanged views on their respective recent engagements with Indo-Pacific partners. They identified opportunities to tackle manipulation of the information space and counter disinformation, and ways to step up security and defence cooperation to enhance maritime awareness and build regional capacity to improve law enforcement and coordination in the maritime domain. They also recognised the importance of promoting due diligence and labour standards to fight child labour and address its root causes in the region. They reiterated their condemnation of the military takeover in Myanmar. They discussed synergies and cooperation between the EU’s Global Gateway and the U.S. Build Back Better World initiatives. They decided to continue close consultations with a view to coordinating the implementation of their respective Indo-Pacific strategies.
Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman also had the opportunity to discuss other key foreign policy issues of shared interest, including ongoing strong coordination and cooperation in the Western Balkans to advance its European integration and stability. They expressed their support for the formal opening of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and for the EU facilitated Belgrade Pristina Dialogue. They recognised the importance of the stabilisation and security provided by EUFOR’s ALTHEA mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and coordination on fighting corruption, and promoting free and fair elections. On Afghanistan, they condemned the Taliban’s decision not to allow girls access to secondary schools, calling for the immediate reversal of this decision and pledged joint efforts to stabilise the economic and financial situation in the country, as well to push for an inclusive political process. They underlined the need to organise elections in Mali with the full support of ECOWAS’ mediation, while strongly condemning the reported abuses of human rights by the Malian armed forces and the Wagner group. They also acknowledged the need for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali to conduct accurate investigations and release reports on all human rights abuses in Mali. The Sahel remains a region of priority interest where the EU and the U.S. are undertaking civilian, political and security efforts as well as development and humanitarian aid. They remain particularly concerned about the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel, where over 20 million people could be in need of assistance this year. In this context and in line with the conclusions of the EU co-organised pledging event of 6 April 2022, they agreed on the need to continue to take concrete immediate and long-term actions to address the ongoing food and nutrition crises in the region.
Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman welcomed that the first meeting of the EU-U.S. dialogue on Security and Defence will be held with the participation of the U.S. Departments of State and Defence, the European External Action Service, as well as the European Commission and the European Defence Agency on 22 April 2022. The meeting represents an important milestone towards closer partnership between the EU and the U.S. in the area of security and defence.
Secretary General Sannino and Deputy Secretary Sherman committed to continue their close consultations on foreign policy and security issues of shared concern and decided to hold the next high-level meetings under the Dialogue on China and the Consultations on the Indo-Pacific towards the end of 2022.