Two intense days between Albania, France and Morocco

Two intense days between Albania, France and Morocco

I spent the last two days in Tirana, Paris and Rabat. The trip started on Thursday in Albania: there I addressed the Parliament on the future of the country’s relations with Europe, which very much depends on the ability of Albanian institutions to pass deep reforms – starting with judicial reform. These reforms are not for Brussels’ sake, but for the citizens of Albania. This is what I discussed with president Bujar Nishani, prime minister Edi Rama, foreign minister Ditmir Bushati, the speaker of the Parliament Ilir Meta and members of the opposition.  Albania’s success could be a success for the entire European Union, because our need for cooperation grows by the day: on security and terrorism, on preventing radicalisation, stabilising the Balkans, managing the flows of refugees who are fleeing from the war in Syria. And Syria was the core of yesterday’s meeting with the foreign ministers of France Jean-Marc Ayrault, of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Philip Hammond of the UK. We discussed how best to help those Syrians who are staying in the country, as we also try to strengthen the political process mediated by the UN. The European Union in Syria’s largest donor, together with Member States we have pledged millions of euros to help Syrians. But we also have a fundamental political role in facilitating the peace process. The current truce must hold, and the dialogue initiated in Geneva must restart. We talked about this with the Syrian opposition’s chief negotiator, Riyad Hijab, who joined us during part of our meeting and whom I also met at length one-to-one. The truce is far from perfect, the delivery of humanitarian aid is difficult, the political process is fragile. But for the first time in five years,...
A foreign policy for European growth

A foreign policy for European growth

Yesterday evening I took part in a dinner event organised by Business Europe, which gathers national business federations from all around our continent. The business community knows very well that our European Union’s foreign policy can do much to promote, protect and advance our economic interests worldwide, and to support growth in our continent. So I updated them on the work I am doing with my colleague Commissioner Katainen on the first ever EU strategy for economic diplomacy. But we also discussed how much our companies worldwide need a strong and united Europe. Sometimes the business community understands better than governments that doing business abroad does not need competition among Europeans, but teamwork. In a world of giants, the only way to regain our sovereignty – including our economic sovereignty – is to invest in a sovereign, strong and united EU. Here is the full text of my...

Foreign policy for European growth: speech at a Business Europe dinner event in Brussels

Thank you, president Marcegaglia, friends, When I began to think about what I would tell you tonight, my first thought was the link between foreign policy and business – how European foreign policy can deliver for our economy, and how the business community can engage in our foreign policy. Then, just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of European business people in Maputo, in Mozambique. When I’m abroad, I always try to meet not just the institutions – I will do the same in Buenos Aires next week. Our foreign policy today is too complex to ignore other actors – the civil society, NGOs, the business community. The investors I met in Mozambique knew exactly what they wanted from me, and from the European Union. For their investments, they need to know that Mozambique will be stable and peaceful. And they ask us to contribute to such stability, because they know we have the potential to help. In some cases, we are the only ones who can make a real difference. Europe is the first trade partner in almost every part of the world, and the first foreign investor, and the first donor. Months ago I was in China, and had breakfast with some European business people who work there. You can easily understand that their requests were not quite the same of the investors in Africa. They talked about improved access to the Chinese market, and a level playing field for all businesses. This tells us something: sometimes the business community understands better than governments that doing business abroad does not...