European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen discussed the philosophy underpinning the European Union’s strategy for international development, known as the Global Gateway, during an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), ahead of her Thursday visit to Cyprus.

According to the European Commission, Urpilainen’s schedule includes meetings with Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos and various representatives from the private sector.

Discussing the opportunities and challenges for Cypriot shipping and the EU’s role in enhancing it, Urpilainen highlighted the fundamental role of sustainable infrastructure and connectivity.

“Sustainable infrastructure and connectivity have the potential to balance growth and foster mutual prosperity through trade and cooperation between the EU and partner countries,” she said.

She also emphasised the need for resilience and diversification within supply chains, with a particular focus on port infrastructure and the maritime industry as central to these strategic aims.

Urpilainen expressed a strong interest in involving European stakeholders in the maritime sector as part of the Global Gateway strategy, especially through initiatives like the Green Maritime Corridor.

“We already have commendable examples of cooperation between port authorities concerning critical raw materials and green hydrogen value chains,” she stated, expressing confidence that these issues will be further discussed during her engagements in Nicosia.

She further detailed the Global Gateway strategy, describing it as the EU’s commitment to mobilising €300 billion in public and private investment by 2027.

This significant investment aims to support sustainable infrastructure and promote human and environmental development, particularly in the Global South, in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“This strategy embodies the EU’s new model of development partnerships,” Urpilainen continued, emphasising the creation of equitable, mutually beneficial partnerships through a holistic approach.

She highlighted the cooperative spirit of the so-called ‘Team Europe’, which includes the European Commission, EU member states, and European development finance institutions, in leveraging public resources to attract private investment through innovative financial instruments like guarantees.

When asked about the specific role that Cyprus, despite its small size but strategic location, could play in this extensive strategy, Urpilainen pointed out that through the World Portal and Team Europe cooperation, smaller member states like Cyprus have significant opportunities to participate in larger consortia.

“This approach allows Member States to contribute in various ways, which do not necessarily have to be financial,” she said.

“For instance, Cyprus possesses a vital maritime sector and extensive maritime expertise,” she added.

Addressing the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, Urpilainen voiced serious concerns regarding its impact on the European Union, particularly highlighting the “worrying humanitarian situation and the stability of the wider region.”

She repeated that “from the onset of the crisis, the EU has demanded respect for international humanitarian law by all parties and stressed the importance of avoiding escalation.”

While acknowledging that the situation “adds to geopolitical tensions,” she clarified that it has not disrupted the EU’s international partnerships.

Instead, these tensions pose a significant challenge to the multilateral system.

“I see active engagement and cooperation with the Global South as an important tool to mitigate these tensions and strengthen the shared commitment to a rules-based international order,” she added.

In relation to the EU’s response to the global health crisis, Urpilainen expressed pride in the progress made towards supporting vaccine production in African countries.

“One of the main objectives of the Global Gateway is to enhance the production of safe, effective, and affordable health products, including vaccines, directly within Africa,” she explained.

This effort highlights the EU’s dedication to addressing health inequalities and strengthening the health resilience of its partner countries.

Lastly, Urpilainen detailed the EU’s financial contributions, noting that “we’ve mobilised around €2 billion to support regulatory frameworks, vaccine production, and ensure adequate demand.”

She concluded by pointing out the tangible outcomes, stating, “Critical vaccines are now being produced in South Africa, with new production facilities underway in Rwanda and Senegal.”