European Council President Charles Michel took the opportunity of a video address to the UN to strongly criticise the UK and its move to change an international treaty signed earlier this year.

“Respect for treaties, a basic principle of international law, comes to be considered optional even by those who, until recently, were its historical guarantors. All this in the name of partisan interests”.

In a thinly-veiled reference to the UK, Michel told the United Nations’ General Assembly via video link that “respect for treaties, a basic principle of international law, comes to be considered optional even by those who, until recently, were its historical guarantors. All this in the name of partisan interests”.

“More than ever, the European Union is defending the rules-based international order and cooperation based on universal values. The European Union wants to be stronger, more autonomous, and firmer, to defend a fairer world.

“We are now developing these values and this open model with greater awareness of our strength, with more realism, and perhaps less naivety. We have faith in the virtues of free and open economies, never in protectionism. But access to our large market — the second-largest economic zone in the world, and the first in terms of international trade — will no longer be sold off. From now on, we will better enforce the level playing field, in a market open to those who respect its standards. Whether they leave our Union or want to move closer to it,” he said.

Michel also addressed bigger geopolitical problems, notably the stolen election in Belarus and the poisoning by the Kremlin of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

In the face of the threats all around it, he claimed that the EU is striving to “become stronger and strategically autonomous”.

FILE PHOTO: Charles Michel Reuters