At the European Council on migration, the Balkans and defence

At the European Council on migration, the Balkans and defence

I write after a long-anticipated European Council, particularly in Italy, because of sensitivity of the issues on the agenda – starting with migration. Migration is a historic phenomenon that no country can manage alone. We need a shared and consensual work, both inside and outside Europe’s borders. And this is what we do every day, not just on the European Council’s days (and nights).

This week for instance I met again with Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maïga (press release here). With the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Director General of the International Organisation for Migration, William Swing, we have started to discuss a possible common initiative for disembarkation points on the Mediterranean shores, managed by the United Nations with European support. This is something we discussed at the European Council, and we will continue to work with Grandi and with the new IOM director Antonio Vitorino (here is the press release on my phone conversation with Grandi and Swing, here I congratulate Vitorino on his appointment).

At the European Council we also discussed another pillar of the Union’s external action: the work to make our partners in the Balkans join the European Union. The 28 leaders have confirmed the decision to open negotiation in 2019 with Albania and the future Republic of North Macedonia – as it will be called. I wrote about it in these two op-eds (one on Albania, one on the future North Macedonia), and here is a conversation with journalists on the same topic.

I also put on the table of the European Council the work we have done on European defence: the Permanent Structured Cooperation, my proposal to create a European Peace Facility to support our peace missions in the world as well as our partners, and our partnership with NATO (here are my answers to journalists arriving at the European Council).

Last Monday we discussed how to consolidate the huge steps we have taken on defence, and launch new projects, with the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Union in Luxembourg, together with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Here is a short press point after the meeting with Defence Ministers.

On Monday I also presented the Foreign Ministers with the results of the second year of implementation of our Global Strategy for foreign and security policy – here is the report.

And we dealt with the war in Yemen, together with the UN Envoy Martin Griffiths, the situation in Venezuela and in Myanmar. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council.

There are two other crises that are closer to our borders, on which the international community has worked for years: those in Syria and in Ukraine. We have allies who believe as much as we do that only multilateral diplomacy can solve these issues: one is Canada. It was a pleasure to host once again in Brussels Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland: among other issues, we are organising together the first meeting of women Foreign Ministers for all over the world – a meeting we will co-chair in September, when Canada chairs the G7.

Together with Freeland, on Wednesday I also took part in the Copenhagen international conference to support the reforms that the Ukraine government has initiated. The conference was an opportunity to discuss again the European Union’s continued support to Ukraine with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. Here is my speech at the conference, here are my answers to questions from journalists.

During the week I also met with the UN Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. We discussed the situation in the country’s south-west: tens of thousands of people are fleeing and the security of neighbouring countries is at stake. The escalation is causing a humanitarian emergency and it risks to stand in the way of the political process led by the United Nations in Geneva. The press release on the meeting is here.