European Union Leaders of the 27 call for "humanitarian corridors and pauses" in Gaza and plead for an "international peace conference soon"

The EU has been insisting for years that "quickly learning to speak the language of power" is not an option but a necessity

European Union Leaders of the 27 call for "humanitarian corridors and pauses" in Gaza and plead for an "international peace conference soon"

The EU has been insisting for years that "quickly learning to speak the language of power" is not an option but a necessity. The problem is that while in various parts of the globe that language is spoken with aircraft carriers, credible threats and deploying troops, in Brussels, too often, it is limited to semantic fights, to weeks of intense fighting literally just over an adjective or a comma. .

What happened these days, and this Thursday on the first day of the European Council that brought together the heads of state and government of the 27, is a perfect example. After hesitant beginnings, a controversy over Ursula von der Leyen's desire for prominence and criticism for an attempt to rewrite the community position on the conflict between Israel and Palestine, a series of clear conclusions were reached in the middle of the month. A unanimous, resounding condemnation, without nuances, of the massacre perpetrated by Hamas. An insistence on Israel's right to self-defense, but within international law. And the need to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. From there, the problems.

The battle at the meeting of foreign ministers last Monday, and of ambassadors and Sherpas since then, has centered on a few words. At the summit they have talked or are going to talk about the EU's annual Budget and the need to increase contributions to face challenges that were impossible to anticipate when they were negotiated; of Ukraine and how support must be maintained even though the cameras and the planet's attention have gone back to the Middle East. Of the Sahel and other regional concerns. But the important thing, where the power, politics, feelings, passions are, is the part of Israel and Gaza. That's where language, of power or powerlessness, transforms into something else.

Although from the outside it may seem incredible, ridiculous, embarrassing or pathetic, the bulk of the discussion has been centered around a few words and just a couple of ideas. Everyone agrees that urgent help is needed (food, water, fuel, medicine) and that there cannot be bombings for the trucks to arrive every day. But while some wanted a "ceasefire" request, others maintained that it was too much, an interference in Israel's plan and its right to defense. That is why they advocate using only the expression "humanitarian pause." But even there they disagree, because some capitals, including Washington, would prefer to talk about "pauses," in the plural, which sounds, to their ears, more informal and vague. The paroxysm reached its peak when Austria came to the room talking about "windows for humanitarian corridors to open", something that no one really understands what it means.

Much of the debate has focused on something like this, which few can understand while so much is at stake and so many people die. "Language matters, this is how agreements are reached, clarifying, polishing words, fighting commas. It matters, it is the way to position oneself in the European Union. We are a peace project that is based on rules, defending values, and the way "This is how it is to do it. Words are important if they serve to achieve the objectives," a high-ranking European source explained these days in the face of criticism for the feeling of importance.

The leaders, therefore, have dedicated their afternoon and night to it and in the end the agreement was something in between, a paragraph that begins by expressing "serious concern about the deterioration of the situation in Gaza", a request for "humanitarian access to reach continuously, quickly and safely to those who need it. And to do this, they defend, "all necessary measures, including humanitarian corridors and breaks for humanitarian needs", a horrible, confusing expression, but ultimately acceptable to everyone.

The day before, diplomats from the continent were confident that the document of conclusions was sufficiently "stabilized" so that the discussion could be freer and more substantial. But it was not like that. In the room, Ireland and Spain were the two most combative countries. Both wanted a more forceful "ceasefire", or emphasis on the protection of civilians "at all times and in line with international law", something that was ultimately achieved. There was no force, however, to resurrect the reference to the United Nations and the role of Antonio Guterres, something that was in the first drafts of the draft conclusions and disappeared as the week began to get ugly.

Pedro Sánchez, also active this weekend at the conference held in Cairo, is the one who has most clearly defended the UN Secretary General and the one who has most requested a peace conference to recover dialogue and begin to build bridges. . His insistence, which some delegations at the end of the afternoon almost blockade due to insistence, was rewarded. The document speaks, in point 18, that the EU must "contribute to reviving the political process on the basis of the two-state solution" and says that the European Council "supports the holding of an international peace conference soon" . Something that Spain would like to host, just as it wants to use the next meeting of the Union Minister for the Mediterranean to promote that diplomatic moment.

There is a completely fair criticism of that feeling of division, of impotence, of wasting time for something that doesn't matter much. Because European countries can say what they want, ask for ceasefires, pauses or windows, but what the actors involved want to do is another matter. But then there is another part of the criticism that does not take into account the functioning of the EU. Which is slow, bureaucratic, naive at times, but it has a method. It is the only way to understand each other, to coordinate, to advance to 27. "Unlike what we saw in Ukraine, here each country has a historical position, some sympathies, some inheritances, some debts. The Middle East is something else and that is why "It is so important to establish a position down to the smallest detail," explains a senior community source involved in this negotiation. Only in this way, when everyone agrees on every comma, can there be a guide, a compass, and thus, when someone deviates, it rings the alarm bells.

It is frustrating, it is insufficient and it does not seem to be the most operational mechanism for a world that advances at breakneck speed, that demands or demands positions in minutes, where sparks fly no matter what is done. But it is, at least for the moment and as long as foreign policy always demands unanimity, the only and best thing there is. Perhaps a community of values ​​is not valid in a Hobbesian world, but it is a starting point on which to build and unite the wills, traumas and interests of 27 countries that until not long ago hated or fought against each other in zero-sum games.