The European Union (EU) reaffirmed its commitment to multilateralism at this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York. As is customary, Charles Michel, President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Belgium, addressed the General Assembly on behalf of the EU.
Since 2011, the EU has been invited to intervene in the general debate at the opening of the General Assembly. It is on this occasion that the EU can present the positions and priorities of the EU and its member states at the UN. These take into account both the UN’s program of work and broader international concerns.
During his speech at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, the European Council’s president called for reform of the UN Charter, including amending veto rights and enhancing the Security Council’s representativeness. President Michel proposed an institutional summit involving various regional organizations and the UN.
He emphasized the pressing need to uphold principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, referencing the war in Ukraine.
Issues such as climate change, support for developing countries, energy transition, and responses to pandemics were also discussed.
Finally, he underscored the need for fundamental reforms of the global financial system to make it more robust, fair, inclusive, and effective.
International financial institutions must change with the times, or be left behind in the dust of history.
European Council President Charles Michel, 20 September 2023
Earlier this year, the European Council confirmed that the EU’s priorities at the UN would focus on accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), enhancing global governance, and forging global partnerships. These priorities underscore the EU’s foundational principle of multilateralism. The EU describes the backdrop as a “proliferation of crises” in regions like Ukraine, the Sahel, and other parts of Africa, compounded by challenges such as the climate crisis, food insecurity, erosion of democracy and human rights, terrorism, violent extremism, cyber threats, and setbacks in achieving the SDGs.