One Europe, from the Arctic to Lampedusa

One Europe, from the Arctic to Lampedusa

A day split in two, from the extreme north to the extreme south of our continent, from the Arctic to Lampedusa. I just got back from the European Parliament, where together with Martin Schulz, Gianni Pittella and the Partito democratico delegation we talked about Lampedusa, its strength and its humanity. We were joined by director Gianfranco Rosi and Pietro Bartolo, a medical practitioner starring in the award-winning Fuocoammare documentary movie, which we watched together today. I had already met Rosi and the movie’s cast two weeks ago in Lampedusa. Over there I saw with my own eyes the courage of the islanders and the beauty of the island – the beauty of its places and of the people who are daily engaged in saving lives and welcoming people. I had the opportunity to verify first hand the change Lampedusa went through since my previous visits, in October 2014: back then, Italy alone was taking care for the search and rescue and for the welcoming, today our Union is finally in Lampedusa. It is a promise I had made to the island in 2014: I promised I would tell the island’s story to the whole of Europe, and to involve the whole of Europe in dealing with migrations. We are still far from a full “europeanisation” of migration and asylum policies. Still, Italy is not alone any more, as our Union is saving lives and fighting the human traffickers in the Mediterranean. This can only make us proud. This is the true Europe – one that does not pretend to close its eyes and its borders, and saves lives instead. Gianfranco Rosi has shown this solidarity to a greater audience. In the movie,...
Two inspiring women, and leaders

Two inspiring women, and leaders

I write after two intense meetings here in Brussels, on a special day for Italy and Europe. Amal al Qubaisi is the first female President of the United Arab Emirates’ Parliament. She is an architect, and she had never dealt with politics until 2005. Then, in 2006, a turning point in her life: she felt the moral and civic duty to run for office and contribute to her country’s institutional life. And she became the first woman to be elected in the Federal National Council. She shows a great example to all Arab women, but also to that part of “the West” who has a purely stereotypical vision of the Arab and Islamic world. Amal fights to protect the values of Islam as a religion of peace, against those who are using of her faith to wage war and promote their own economic interests and their power. Together we talked about terrorism and the many regional crises, from Syria to Yemen. We talked about all the refugees who are fleeing war, and how to protect them, as we also cooperate with the international community to build a future of peace and let everyone go back to their homes. The devastation provoked by war and terror was also at the core of my meeting with Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the World Food Programme – another female leader, at the head of one of the most important UN agencies. Our European Union has just invested 4o million euros through the Fund for Syrian refugees in Turkey, to support a WFP project helping 735,000 people. And we are ready to cooperate in Nigeria, too: half a million men, women and children risk to die of...
In Paris, for an ever more European foreign policy

In Paris, for an ever more European foreign policy

Yesterday I went on official visit to France, to meet Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. From Africa to Libya, from Syria to Ukraine, from fighting terrorism to managing migration – the fields where France gives a fundamental contribution to our European policies are so many and so pivotal. The France I met yesterday, the France I work with on a daily basis knows it very well: only through a strong investment in our common European policies can we provide real and lasting answers to our citizens needs. This was the case for the global agreement on climate, which was formally signed yesterday in New York by all heads of State and government. The deal was reached in Paris thanks to months of hard European common work: our ability to coordinate made a huge difference. We will need the same determination in implementing the deal immediately, as I wrote here with Miguel Arias Cañete, the Commissioner on climate action and energy. Barack Obama mentioned the Paris agreement yesterday in London, together with the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, as one of the recent European foreign policy’s successes. The President has reminded to our British friends that our Union does not weaken, but strengthens the Member States’ voice in the world. I decided to quote him at the beginning of my speech at the EU Institute for Strategic Studies’ annual conference: our global partners ask for a united Europe, as this is the only way to confront the threats we all face. Answering their call is up to us. Preserving and renewing our Union is up to us, each and every...

Signing on to a more secure and stable world. Joint op-ed with Miguel Arias Cañete

The signing of the Paris Agreement in New York on Friday will be a historic event and an important step towards implementing the world’s first global climate deal. A record number of countries is expected to attend: the whole world is committed to turning the promises we made in Paris into concrete action. The Paris spirit is alive and well – and moving forward. In the past years we had listened to so many gloomy predictions that a universal agreement would be impossible to achieve. Indeed, there were strong reasons for being sceptic. But our faith in diplomacy and multilateral cooperation has paid off. And we must say out loud that Europe has played a crucial role in creating consensus around a 195 countries-strong deal. In the run up to the Paris climate conference, our Union mobilised its network of 3,000 EU delegations and Member State embassies across the globe. This dialogue with our partner countries, the general public, the business community and civil society organisations has helped us build a global coalition to fight climate change. This is European diplomacy at its very best: working together for the good of Europe and the whole world. During the conference, Europe was a strong voice for ambition. Our climate diplomacy set up a network of alliances with the group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. We engaged with both big players and smaller developing countries to aim for the highest level of ambition. This now famous High Ambition Coalition was the game changer in Paris. And our work goes on. Paris was just the beginning. Building on the...