Online Commentary

Mar 26, 2024
EU Kommission College of Commissioners 2023

From June 6 to 9, around 373 million EU citizens will be called upon to elect the 720 members of the next European Parliament. The new European Commission and its new President will be elected shortly thereafter. Below, our experts explain which priorities they should set during their term of office in the EU’s most important institution. Their brief analyses focus on issues such as trade, security, EU enlargement, energy, and cyber and health policy.



  1. Geoeconomics
  2. Technology and Cyberspace
  3. Industrial Policy, Energy and Sustainability
  4. Security and Defense
  5. EU Enlargement
  6. Eastern Neighborhood Policy
  7. Sahel and Western Afrika
  8. Global Health


The Commission must use trade policy as a strategic geoeconomic instrument

What Is at Stake

Current geopolitical developments present the EU with major challenges. These include Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, increasing strategic rivalry between China and the United States, and weakened structures of global governance. In this critical environment, the next European Commission must play an active geopolitical role – even if its power to shape foreign and security policy is limited.

To this end, the European Union should make greater use of the leverage offered by its Common Commercial Policy, which is one of the most important and stable pillars of strategic relations between the EU and third countries. Based on the approach of “open strategic autonomy,” it should actively employ its trade policy to achieve its strategic objectives and to defend its interests and values

What Should Be Done

1.) At a unilateral level within the EU, trade instruments must be strengthened to create fair competitive conditions. Concretely, this relates to the development of trade defense measures, the application of the new Anti-Coercion Instrument, and the rapid implementation of the Economic Security Strategy. Ongoing processes to strengthen European investment screening and the European coordination of exports of dual-use goods are the right way forward.

2.) At a bilateral level, trade partnerships must be promoted through ambitious free trade agreements (FTAs). These can shape globalization by exporting European standards, norms, and values. They also offer alternatives to countries and regions that are under pressure from less democratic states, particularly China. Moreover, such agreements represent the best way to find partners and allies in a conflict-ridden geoeconomic environment.

Therefore, it is urgent that the new Commission makes efforts to conclude ongoing negotiations and to implement existing ones – e.g., with Australia, Chile, Mexico, and individual members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To win over the countries of the Global South as partners, compromises must also be found on sustainability issues. This applies, for example, to the EU-Mercosur Agreement and ongoing negotiations on FTAs with Indonesia and India. Due to how difficult such negotiations are proving to be, alternative trade policy formats must also be found. These include mini-agreements related to sectoral issues, digital trade, and energy and critical raw material partnerships as well as mutual recognition agreements. However, these must be WTO-compatible.

3.) Finally, the multilateral framework remains the key dimension for all trade policy as it regulates trade on a global scale and sets transparent, non-discriminatory rules that apply to all 166 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Unfortunately, the WTO faces a highly uncertain future after its 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) that took place in early 2024. Therefore, the EU needs to focus on WTO reform (dispute settlement, agribusiness) while driving new trade issues through coalitions of the willing (plurilateral agreements).

This much is certain: geoeconomic challenges are not getting any smaller, and the EU needs allies and partners. Due to the EU’s exclusive competency in trade, the European Commission can be an important geopolitical player in this field. However, it must use this competency more actively, especially in terms of setting a positive trade agenda. Unity among EU member states is essential for the European Union to successfully implement strategic trade policy. Consequently, the Commission needs to find ways to ensure that this unity can be achieved

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Technology and Cyberspace

The EU needs to make real progress on its doctrine in cyberspace and prioritize China’s cyber challenge

What Is at Stake

Three years after European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton observed that the EU lacks a doctrine in cyberspace, this deficiency persists. Through its Joint Communication on EU Cyber Defense Policy, the EU continues to strive to deter attacks through denial and punishment. This strategy ignores the fact that such measures have been largely unsuccessful in deterring malicious international behavior below the threshold of armed conflict. While the EU’s focus on gradually increasing resilience and reducing incentives for attack through sanctions and verbal condemnations is necessary, it is insufficient for fending off cyber operations. Furthermore, the EU’s current cyber posture mostly zooms in on Russia, which it mentions several times, while noting that close partnership is intended with Ukraine. At the same time, this cyber posture leaves out China’s cyber challenge entirely – although it clearly poses the greater long-term threat

What Should Be Done

The EU should no longer try to shape adversary behavior. Instead, it should focus on shaping the substance of cyberspace itself, tilting the offense-defense balance to the defender’s advantage and highlighting why it is crucial to strengthen the defender in each dyadic relationship with an attacker. This would raise the cost for malicious actors to engage in offensive behavior. Thus, the EU doctrine would move away from a traditional deterrence approach to one that can be summed up as defense superiority in cyberspace. 

Accordingly, the EU should follow a strategy to secure the cyber domain that focuses on the following

  • Making cyber operations less significant, i.e., reducing the propagation of malware across companies, ministries, and individuals. This can be done through information sharing, for example.
  • Decimating the disruptive effects of cyber operations through redundance.  
  • Limiting the depth of intrusions with tools such as multifactor authentication.

This proposed strategy does include limited cyber operations to disrupt the activities of hostile countries. However, such offensive cyber operations are not a priority, and they are not meant to change adversary behavior or gain relative advantages compared to hostile states. Moreover, this strategy differs from US posture in cyberspace, which encourages the implantation of malware in the critical national infrastructure of an enemy to create a deterrence mechanism to discourage attacks above the threshold of armed conflict. The strategy of securing the cyber domain does not subscribe to implanting malware for such a deterrent purpose

Furthermore, that the EU’s current cyber policy document mostly zooms in on Russia and leaves out China’s cyber challenge entirely – although the long-term threat clearly comes from the latter – must be changed quickly. In addition, the EU needs to identify partners with whom it can closely cooperate to meet the challenge posed by China. It should deepen its cyber dialogue with India and seek out possibilities for collaboration. EU member states and India could, for example, issue joint cyber advisories and exchange assessments of Chinese cyber threat groups.

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Industrial Policy

The EU must stand up to China’s green industrial policy 

What Is at Stake

In October 2023, the European Commission launched an anti-subsidy investigation into electric vehicles (EVs) originating from China. This investigation provides an opportunity for the EU to go beyond rhetoric that identifies China as a partner, competitor, and systemic rival. While the investigation has been met with dissatisfaction from the Chinese, the EU should not allow fear of retaliation to cause delay or inaction. It is no coincidence that China currently dominates green supply chains. Its preeminence resulted from an industrial strategy that aims to create asymmetrical technological dependencies vis-à -vis the mass export of subsidized overcapacity, resulting in much cheaper Chinese products. Amid ongoing competition, the EV market supply chain exemplifies the effect of Chinese capabilities to dominate new emerging markets. The European Commission needs to implement policies against Chinese subsidies swiftly and efficiently. If not, it risks losing out on more than just the EV sector in the coming years.

What Should Be Done

It is imperative for the EU Commission to promptly initiate and act upon such investigations. Subsidized Chinese manufacturing can reach scale remarkably quickly. In global markets where this capacity exceeds domestic demand, exported surplus allows China to establish a dominant lead within a few months. The EV industry is the most recent example of this. Moreover, China has announced plans to continue expanding this sector. The announcement was made even though China’s EV production capacity fell below a 50 percent utilization rate throughout 2023, it holds a significant excess of battery inventory, and it already had a projected output significantly greater than global demand.

The thirteen-month timeline that was initially announced for the EU’s anti-subsidy investigation could be too long. In the meantime, European markets will continue to be inundated with Chinese-made EVs that benefit from an unfair advantage. The current Commission should accelerate this investigation or attempt to yield concrete preliminary findings ahead of schedule. Doing so would help signal that the incoming Commission wants the European automotive market to remain fair for all EV producers. Setting standards for how illegal subsidies should be handled accomplishes things on three different levels

1.) At the European level, it prevents competitors from gaining an unfair advantage in the EU internal market. Limiting the inflow of illegally subsidized EVs into the EU internal market helps ensure that European carmakers can continue to remain competitive with Chinese-made EVs while also avoiding the knock-on effect of jobs disappearing from Europe. The EU market needs to remain open to competition from Chinese producers, but prices need to be examined with harsher scrutiny to ensure that European automotive companies have a level playing field.

2.) At the EU-China level, it asserts clear boundaries that defend European interests – without damaging the bilateral EU-China relationship. This relationship is crucial, whether for climate mitigation, the energy transition, or broader economic activity. Increasingly, both partners do not see eye to eye and, historically, fear of retaliation has made the EU reluctant to act. Yet, as this case threatens Europe’s vital interests, it should be used as a means to overcome the Commission’s hesitation and establish new terms for the relationship.

3.) At the global level, the case of EVs can create a precedent for how to challenge China’s subsidy-spurned mass exports without reverting to protectionism. The EU is not the only market facing this issue. Emerging markets across Asia and Latin America exhibit similar trends. While these markets might not have the political will or administrative bandwidth to challenge China on trade, the EU can lead by example. It can support the efforts of these countries to push back by offering a roadmap for action or other forms of capacity building.

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Energy and Sustainability

The next European Commission must square security with sustainability when setting the EU’s energy policy priorities


What Is at Stake

Energy policy will be top of mind for the incoming European Commission. Following the ambitious agenda of its predecessor, the EU’s new leadership must manage the competing demands of its constituents for an energy supply that is simultaneously affordable, secure, and sustainable. Reconciling these three dimensions of energy policy will require both sound policy and a strong network of global energy partnerships.  

What Should Be Done

To square security concerns with sustainability commitments, the next Commission should make three priorities an integral part of its energy agenda

1.) Enhancing Energy Alliances: The EU should further consolidate energy ties with traditionally close allies, namely Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. To that end, the recently established EU-Norway Green Alliance should evolve into an action plan that details how to cooperate on green technology and integrate Norwegian hydropower into the EU energy grid. Similarly, the EU’s North Seas Energy Cooperation group should fully incorporate the UK to promote collaboration on offshore wind energy and grid interconnection, while London and Brussels should streamline policies on carbon pricing and border adjustment regulations. Given that energy trade has become increasingly important for transatlantic ties, existing institutional links such as the EU-US Task Force on Energy Security and the EU-US Energy Council should also evolve into a deeper strategic cooperation around climate, energy, and green technologies.  

2.) Pooling Purchasing Power: The EU should expand union-level demand pooling for international energy trade. Building on the success of the Energy Platform as a crisis response to coordinate gas purchases, a permanent demand aggregation and joint procurement mechanism for fossil fuels and hydrogen should form a central pillar of European energy security architecture. Hindering EU member states from outbidding each other on the global energy market strengthens the union’s bargaining position, thus lowering purchase prices. This also benefits supplier countries, providing them with greater planning certainty for investment and production targets.  

3.) Consolidating Climate Commitments: The EU and its member states should intensify their decarbonization efforts. The next Commission should urge member states to phase out fossil fuel subsidies that, due to the energy crisis, more than doubled to EUR 123 billion across the EU in 2022. These subsidies undermine progress on Europe’s energy transition and damage the EU’s image as a global leader in green policy. 

Abiding by the EU’s ambitious 2030 climate targets, the incoming Commission should stay focused on reducing emissions and boosting renewables. To further promote decarbonization, it should develop a strategy for carbon capture, utilization, and storage as well as target energy-intensive industries like construction, chemicals, shipping, and transport. 

In the area of green energy, the Commission should facilitate grid interoperability and expand capacities for renewable power generation. Investment vehicles such as REPowerEU or the EU’s Global Gateway will be key here because they not only provide funds, but also opportunities for building partnerships beyond the EU’s borders. Boosting energy cooperation will prove to be crucial for further diversifying the EU’s energy mix and expanding its access to the critical raw materials needed for the energy transition.

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Security and Defense

The EU must become a geopolitical player in security and defense

What Is at Stake

Expectations were high after newly elected Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proclaimed hers a “geopolitical commission” in 2019. Three years later, after Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell also spoke of Europe’s “geopolitical awakening.” Indeed, responding to the wars and crises with which the EU is currently confronted on several fronts requires geopolitical strategic thinking and action. Yet the EU’s reactions have been mixed. For the first time, joint orders for weapons and war material are being financed via the European Peace Facility to support Ukraine, and training courses for Ukrainian soldiers are taking place as part of the EU training mission EUMAM UA. Nevertheless, Europe has major deficits in military capacity and production, and there are also gaps in the joint procurement and supply of ammunition. Further, the EU has so far only had limited influence on the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the Israel-Hamas war

What Should Be Done

The next European Commission should set the following three priorities regarding security and defense:

1.) Implementing an (Overall) Strategy: The European Union must differentiate when and how it can and should take military action outside the EU in the event of wars or violent conflicts. While its Strategic Compass 2022 sets out the objectives and threat perception in principle, the plan does not make clear under what conditions and in what form the EU should actually intervene in these circumstances. Ultimately, this is also a question of resources. The following examples show the ambiguity of the EU in this respect: On the one hand, the EU terminated its military training mission in Mali, which indicates a move away from ambitious forms of EU conflict intervention. Further, the EU played no part in potential stabilization measures in Afghanistan or Syria. Yet on the other hand, it recently launched the EUNAVFOR ASPIDES operation to stabilize the Red Sea.

Even though the Strategic Compass takes the defense of EU territory (against Russia) as its starting point, the European Union must not jump to the conclusion that this will be its only battle in the future. If the EU really wants to take on more geopolitical responsibility, it must also demonstrate that it is able to wield more influence and act globally. This can also be achieved by stepping up military and civilian missions and operations related to the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).  

2.)Signaling”: The EU should increasingly – and publicly – signal to partners and opponents that it has the necessary instruments for conflict resolution. Although there are still unanswered questions regarding cost sharing for operations and joint military command structures, the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity (RDC), a reaction force of up to 5,000 people, is scheduled to be operational by 2025. In fall 2023, the first military crisis management exercise was held in Spain as planned. However, the RDC should not suffer the same fate as the EU Battlegroups, which have not yet been deployed in existing external conflicts despite being operational since 2007.  

3.) Strengthening the European Defense Industry: If the European Union wants to play an ambitious role as an international security actor, it must strengthen its defense industry. In principle, the EU has the necessary instruments for research and innovation, collaborative planning and development, and the collective procurement of defense capabilities at its disposal. These include, among others, the European Defence Agency (EDA), Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), European Defense Fund, and Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD). However, the EU lacks a long-term capability plan based on credible military scenarios and joint financing. The goal of “more, better, joint, and European investment,” which was set in the first European Defence Industrial Strategy (EDIS), is certainly not new. Now, the political will must be found to actually jointly procure more defense equipment produced in Europe – and to quickly implement the necessary support for Ukraine.  

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EU Enlargement

The next Commission needs to accelerate EU enlargement – also by reforming the accession process



What Is at Stake

EU enlargement has become critical to the EU’s future and security. In Brussels, Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine was rightly understood as an attempt by Vladimir Putin to restore dominance over Eastern Europe, not only over Kyiv. Hence, the current Commission was tasked by the Council to mobilize an enlargement policy that – as Balkan candidates can attest – has been dormant for almost a decade. Another key priority is to provide a framework for Ukraine’s survival, future reconstruction, and transformation into a European state. The same goes for Moldova.

Meanwhile, the group of aspirants has grown to nine countries and become more diverse. Farthest along in their accession negotiations are four Balkan states – Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia. Then come Ukraine, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina who were just upgraded to this stage. They are followed by Georgia and Kosovo who are catching up from lower stages of the accession process. In contrast, this process is effectively frozen with Turkey. The EU’s fundamental shift into strategic gear brought important policy adjustments with it. Now, the emphasis is not only on rule of law and the democratic fundamentals of aspirants, but also on foreign policy alignment. This has put Serbia – the largest Balkan candidate, which has autocratic tendencies and special relations with Russia and China – under more scrutiny. 

Accelerating enlargement also confronts the EU with internal challenges related to budget, governance, and the core policy areas of cohesion and agriculture.

What Should be Done

The next EU Commission, as well as its President, must put enlargement at the top of its strategic agenda. This portfolio will need a strong Commissioner with substantial political backing and resources – optimally, one who would also be one of the Commission’s Vice-Presidents.

Priorities in this area will be specified in the roadmap on enlargement and reforms to be adopted by EU leaders in June 2024. The next Commission is already expected to carry out in-depth, pre-enlargement policy reviews in some sectors in early 2025, followed by substantive reform proposals for the next EU budget. 

No target date is given for the next enlargement, which remains a merit-based process. According to Brussels, aspiring EU members will be upgraded when they meet the necessary criteria. Yet the outgoing Commission has been criticized for moving the goalposts and taking a passive approach toward the “more advanced” candidates. Ahead of others is Montenegro, which has opened all negotiating chapters but closed only three. A new government there has accelerated domestic reforms. Thus, a realistic ambition for the next Commission should be finishing membership talks with Montenegro – and ideally a few other candidates – by the end of its mandate in 2029.

An important shift in enlargement policy will come with the “gradual integration” of the aspirants into selected EU policies. Rather than continuing to tie all rewards to full membership at the end of the process, the mid-term goal is to advance the further integration of enlargement countries before accession, focusing on parts of the Single Market and connectivity in strategic sectors – for example, energy and climate, transport, technologies, critical raw materials, food security, migration, and border management.

As some enlargement countries are not in control of parts of their territories, the next Commission will have to address conflict resolution and territorial convergence. For Ukraine, whose population and economy are larger than those of all other aspirant countries combined, this responsibility must be complemented by reconstruction and progress on the (economic and social) association tracks.

Credible enlargement policy will also require more effective, long-term communication toward the societies of both current EU members and aspirants, including countering disinformation.

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Eastern Neighborhood Policy

The EU needs a new approach for its Eastern Neighborhood Policy

What Is at Stake

Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began with its large-scale invasion in 2022, has changed the security and geopolitical landscape in the EU’s Eastern neighborhood. As a result, the EU made the geopolitical decision to offer a membership perspective to Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia that fundamentally changes relations between them and the EU. This has called the whole architecture and purpose of the EU Eastern Partnership policy into question. As Belarus has suspended its participation, this policy now only remains relevant for Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia is interested in deepening its relations with the EU through its Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and, considering growing tensions with Russia, potentially a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). Azerbaijan is interested in trade and investments in energy and infrastructure, but not in EU norms or any integration. 

The EU has already reacted to this new situation by developing its connectivity and security agenda. Yet this policy has limits and falls short of being able to shape the neighborhood. In Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia, new regional orders are emerging. Increasingly, the EU is competing for influence with actors like Turkey, China, Iran, some Gulf countries, and Russia.  

What Should Be Done

In the EU’s Eastern neighborhood, regional relations are becoming more transactional. The EU must adapt to this reality but stick to its norms and values. In this way, it can differentiate itself from other actors like Turkey, China, and Russia who are competing for regional influence. Under a new Commission, the EU needs to become a relevant negotiator in conflicts in this neighborhood. It needs a more flexible approach and instruments to operate in the ongoing instability that has become the new normal.

In this context, connectivity can become a crosscutting issue through which the EU can connect different neighborhoods and regional policies. While the EU’s current connectivity agenda seems to be the answer to many challenges, it lacks strategy and financial backing. It builds on the EU’s interest in developing alternatives for energy relations, raw material import, and trade routes but without real ambition. The EU Global Gateway initiative could be an umbrella mechanism for different connectivity agendas, but it needs the resources, strategic outreach, and connections with other EU policies within the framework of a normative approach. 

Connectivity and security are strongly interlinked. We are seeing the securitization of areas like energy, trade routes, and infrastructure – also in the Black Sea region, where the new European security order will be negotiated according to the outcome of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The connection between the Black Sea, South Caucasus, and Central Asia has already become important for the EU. Investments are being made to support the economic integration of countries along this route with the EU and to strengthen regional development and cooperation. But for such investment to be successful, it needs to be accompanied by security tools for the countries in the EU’s Eastern neighborhood, an agenda for regional conflicts, and a long-term approach to Ukraine as a driver of EU policy in the next decade.

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Sahel and Western Africa

While the EU looks to Eastern Europe, it should not lose sight of Western Africa  


What Is at Stake

Ukraine is under huge pressure on the battlefield, and US support for Kiev is at increasing risk. Consequently, the EU is being forced to concentrate political and financial resources on the war to its east. Some argue that this momentum will be helpful for the next Commission. It could be used to strengthen instruments such as the European Peace Facility or Defence Fund and to institutionalize policies such as common acquisitions of ammunition. Further, such a “crisis” could once again deepen integration. 

Yet the EU and its member states have lost significant traction elsewhere in the world. For example, in Western Africa, a blind spot of media attention and public debate, European states have long been on the back foot. While for decades Western Africa was arguably the only region where Western presence meant the European Union first and the United States second, Western influence is now dwindling. France, the United States, and others were forced to leave Mali, Burkina Faso, and, finally, Niger. 

Recently, a new president was elected in Senegal: 44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye. He is part of a new generation of leaders that want to break with the post-colonial legacy and seek new partnerships – outside of the West, if need be. Russia, China, Turkey, and the Gulf monarchies have gained ground in the Sahel, offering support and resources without any conditionality, human rights, or other strings attached. Iran is fueling anti-Western sentiment and forming ad hoc alliances with leaders of the pan-African movement. Furthermore, Jihadists in the region are gaining ground, forcing populations to flee the violence and challenging what little remains of historically weak states. Most are at risk of failing or of becoming “ungoverned spaces.” 

What Should Be Done

EU priorities for Western Africa continue to focus on sustainable growth, green development strategies, and the inclusion of civil society. Germany, for instance, calls for a social and ecological transition in the region that should be fostered by a common European approach. Considering current developments and increasing volatility, this is unrealistic.

Thus, the next Commission should shift its focus there onto containment to prevent the spread of further instability to Northern Africa and the coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea. This likely implies counterterrorism efforts and could involve large-scale combat operations similar to Serval, the French military intervention in Mali in 2013. The progress that the Commission and member states have made in developing common financing and shared procurement to support Ukraine could help with joint efforts in Africa. So too could the military bases and vast networks that France has built in francophone states, especially as it is now increasingly willing to Europeanize its policies in the face of its own fading influence. 

If the EU fails at upholding the Western ideals of global order in this part of the world, no other allied power will come to its rescue – not NATO, not the United States, and not Great Britain. Given that other states have already begun filling the void left by the French retreat, the EU urgently needs to take concrete steps toward containment in Western Africa.

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Global Health

 The EU must bring its Global Health Strategy to life

What Is at Stake

While the European Commission had not originally defined health as a priority for the period 2019 to 2024, the Covid-19 pandemic catapulted the topic to the top of the EU agenda. Consequently, the European Health Union and a Global Health Strategy were established.

This rapid, crisis-related prioritization of health issues cannot, however, hide the fact that there are deficits in health governance both within the EU and at a global level. The pandemic made it clear that more sustainable structures are needed to be prepared for future health crises. As recently as mid-February, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), emphasized at the World Governments Summit that the next pandemic is only a matter of time.

This makes it all the more problematic that, since the waning of the Covid-19 pandemic, global health has increasingly fallen out of focus and instruments are losing government support. The pandemic treaty proposed by EU Council President Charles Michel in summer 2023 is emblematic of these developments. Although the adoption of this treaty by the World Health Assembly, which would make it binding under international law, was originally considered a formality, negotiations have stalled. Hence, the new Commission has no time to lose and should quickly make adjustments before the momentum on global health slows even further.

What Should Be Done

The new Commission should pursue a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, it should do more to ensure that the European Union establishes itself as a permanent and therefore reliable player in the field of global health. On the other, the EU should take a more active role in shaping global health governance. By making health one of its priorities, the Commission can send an important signal that global health is a key global challenge – even after Covid-19. It needs to demonstrate credibility in this area, not least through the allocation of sufficient financial resources.

The WHO also urgently needs new and sustainable financial resources to fulfill its tasks. During his first term in office, US President Donald Trump discontinued cooperation with the WHO. Therefore, it is crucial that sustainable funding is secured that can absorb a shortfall in US payments in the event of another Trump victory in elections this November. The EU has the potential to contribute more here. Although the EU is one of the largest donors, it has not yet prioritized investment in global health as part of its official development assistance (ODA). According to figures from Global Health Advocates accessed on March 15, 2024, while the United Kingdom and the United States spent around 15 and 30 percent of their ODA on global health respectively in 2021, the EU’s ODA in global health was just under 8 percent that year. Moreover, due to the shared competence between member states and the EU in health issues, the EU is not yet perceived to be a relevant player, especially by partners in the Global South. More financial resources from the EU would strengthen the EU’s standing here.

Although the WHO continues to be the central place where global health governance is shaped, the EU is currently neither a member nor does it have official observer status there. To play a formative role in global health issues, the EU should strive for this status as soon as possible. It should also diversify its global health initiatives through innovative formats of cooperation with private and public actors that complement them, as it is already doing with GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.  

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Bibliographic data

Schmucker, Claudia, Valentin Weber, Loyle Campbell, Oscar Shao, Abdullah Fahimi, Christoph Erber, Niklas Hintermayer, Stefan Meister, Frauke Seebass, Milan Nič, Anastasia Pociumban, Jacob Ross, Nicolas Téterchen, and Ole Spillner. “Priorities for the Next EU Commission (2024–2029).” German Council on Foreign Relations. March 2024.

This collection of commentaries on the 2024 European elections was published on April 17, 2024.