Top EU diplomat calls most of the world ‘jungle’

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has shared his vision of how the future generation of European diplomats should engage with the world

Top EU diplomat calls most of the world ‘jungle’

Josep Borrell urged future diplomats to protect Europe's “garden”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has delivered a speech at the inauguration of a pilot university program designed to cultivate the next generation of European diplomats, sharing his vision of how they should engage with the rest of the world.

Addressing a group of students at the College of Europe in Bruges on Thursday, Borrell compared the European Union to a “garden” that has the best combination of “political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion” ever known to humankind – and must be protected from the outside “jungle.”

“The rest of the world… is not exactly a garden. Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden. The gardeners should take care of it, but they will not protect the garden by building walls,” Borrell said, insisting that Europeans have to be “much more engaged” with the rest of the world and put their “privilege” to good use.

The gardeners have to go to the jungle… Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means.

Led by Borrell's predecessor, Federica Mogherini, the European Diplomatic Academy is a brainchild of the European External Action Service (EEAS) launched this year with the stated goal of cultivating a “truly European diplomatic corps.” Some 42 students are taking part in the first year pilot, mostly candidates from various EU institutions, but also diplomats from the Western Balkans countries, Georgia, Moldova and Türkiye – as well as two candidates from Ukraine.

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“You are the first generation. You are the trailblazers of a process, and I hope that many others will come,” Borrel told the group of future diplomats. “Keep the garden, be good gardeners. But your duty will not be to take care of the garden itself but [of] the jungle outside.” 

It's not the first time Borrell has compared the EU to a beautiful and tidy garden surrounded by a chaotic, lawless jungle. Back in March he told El Mundo that “if we don't want the jungle to eat our garden, we have to wake up.”