Working to preserve the deal with Iran

Working to preserve the deal with Iran

I write after coming back from Bulgaria, where together with the whole College of European Commissioners we inaugurated the Bulgarian semester of Presidency of the European Union. The next six months will be particularly important for our relations with the Balkans: our goal remains to consolidate our six partners’ path  towards the EU, so it becomes an irreversible process. These were intense days, especially because of our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran. On Thursday I chaired a meeting in Brussels with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and with the Foreign Ministers of the three European countries that negotiated the deal (Jean-Yves Le Drian for France, Boris Johnson for Britain, and Sigmar Gabriel for Germany). The deal is working, the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified it nine times already, and it is crucial for the security of Europe and the world. It is positive that yesterday President Donald Trump confirmed that the United States will respect their commitments, extending the waiver on nuclear-related sanctions foreseen by the deal. Our meeting in Brussels was also the opportunity to discuss other themes that are not related to the nuclear deal, as the last weeks’ protests in Iran, the tensions in the Middle East and Iran’s ballistic missiles program. There are issues we Europeans are concerned about, which we are committed to tackling with even greater determination, outside the scope of the nuclear deal: in fact, the deal was negotiated on the basis on a UN mandate that limited its scope very clearly. Here is the press conference with Le Drian, Johnson and Gabriel dopo l’incontro. For the European Union, the Middle East is a strategic...
Twelve things to bring with us in 2018

Twelve things to bring with us in 2018

This was a difficult year for the world, but just like all other years 2017 also brought us good moments and some good things – things we achieved with a lot of commitment, a lot of energy and some great teamwork. As ever on New Year’ Day, I have tried to list twelve things that I bring with me into the new year, from the year that just ended. Twelve special moments marking my 2017.   Relaunching our Union, starting with defence It was the year when the path towards greater European unity restarted. I have two images in mind. First, the sixtieth anniversary of our Union, on March 25th in Rome: not just a ceremony to celebrate the past, but a practical commitment to relaunch and strengthen the European Union, together (I wrote about it here). We started with the Europe of defence: after months of hard work, last December I announced the launch of a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence. It is a dream of our founders coming true, together with a package of measures including a European Defence Fund and stronger cooperation with NATO (I explained everything at the European Parliament, here). It is a way to be more efficient and autonomous, as Europeans, also in the field of defence. And to become a more reliable point of reference for our global partners.   At work with Africa for migrants One moment to sum up thousands of stories: last November in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, we held the first summit between the European Union and the African Union, with the Prime Ministers of our countries. It was the sign that our partnership has...
Between Lebanon and the Balkans. And a message to our EU missions

Between Lebanon and the Balkans. And a message to our EU missions

This week I went back to Lebanon, for the first international visit since Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Beirut. I carried with me a message of strong support to Lebanon, to the country’s autonomy and independence, to its institutions and its citizens. This is what I discussed with President Michel Aoun, with Hariri, with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and the speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, together with the situation in Jerusalem and the war in Syria. Here is what I told journalists after my meeting with Bassil, here is the press conference with Hariri. On Monday evening, in Brussels, I hosted the prime ministers of our six partners in the Balkans. 2018 will be a crucial year for their path towards the European Union: it is the opportunity to make this path irreversible, pushing forward those reforms – from justice to the economy – that their citizens are asking for. Here is the press release on our meeting. On Monday, on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year greetings, I also met via video conference our sixteen military and civilian missions – men and women who serve far from home, but contribute directly to the security of all...
Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

I write after a historic week for the European Union. Last Monday, with the Foreign Ministers of the Union, we officially launched a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence among 25 European Member States: it is a binding commitment to invest together, to strengthen our defence industry together, to act together for peace and security. We start with 17 projects for practical cooperation – I have talked about it at the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg. On Thursday, at the European Council, we celebrated this success with the heads of State and government. But the work has already restarted: on Wednesday night I was with Javier Solana and Joschka Fischer – two great Europeans who have worked a lot to relaunch our Union on foreign and defence policy – and I presented six ideas on the next steps for European defence. Now we have the right tools, and we have a duty to explore their potential at full. Here is my speech. On Friday, then, I had the pleasure to go back to NATO headquarters together with the people who work with me everyday, as guests of Jens Stoltenberg and his team. It was a way to show that a stronger European defence goes hand in hand with a stronger cooperation between the European Union and NATO. But last week we didn’t only work on defence. Last Monday I welcomed to Brussels the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, together with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers. I was the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister in Brussels in over twenty years: today Israel and the European Union are tied by a strong friendship, which allows us to be very open about our disagreements. On Jerusalem,...
Jerusalem, a capital for two States

Jerusalem, a capital for two States

I write at the end of a week very much focused on the situation in Israel and Palestine, after President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. We Europeans believe that Jerusalem must be the capital of two States, the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. And we believe that the only way to achieve this goal is via direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians (here is my press conference on Friday, and here the interview with Christiane Amanpour). This is what I told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in our phone conversation on Wednesday, when I also invited him to work for all demonstrations to be peaceful (press release here). And Abbas will be our guest at the Foreign Affairs Council in January. This is also what we discussed with Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman al Safadi, in Brussels on Friday. Jordan has a very special role when it comes to Jerusalem: King Abdullah is the custodian of the Holy Places, and a wise man. He can count on the European Union’s full and constant support. Here is my press conference with Safadi. I will deliver the same message tomorrow – together with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers – to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will join us in Brussels. And with the same openness, I spoke to our American friends: I talked on the phone to Jared Kushner’s, the President’s Middle East advisor, and in person to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, here in Brussels. With Tillerson we discussed all the main foreign policy issues: those the European Union and the United States have different opinions about, such as the fight against climate change and the United Nation’s role, and all...
Europe and Africa, finally at work together

Europe and Africa, finally at work together

I write after a week dedicated to Africa and the Mediterranean – in Ivory Coast first, then in Rome. I arrived in Abidjan last Monday, for a crucial summit between the European Union and the African Union. The first summit where we truly worked together as equals with our African partners, searching for common answers to our two continent’s problems. For the first time, the summit centred on young people – with their voice and their proposals (here is my meeting with a group of young Europeans and Africans, together with Didier Drogba). And for the first time we tackled Africa’s development not only as a humanitarian issue – but as a shared interest of our continents. We, as European Union, went to Abidjan with the largest program ever for private investment in Africa: this money will target the regions and economic sectors that need it the most, and we will define these regions and sectors together with our African partners. Here is my speech at the Business Forum in Abidjan. We also worked together so that our African partners can take their security into their own hands – and Africa’s security is our own security. Here is my speech opening the ministerial meeting that I chaired at the beginning of the summit. But we also dealt with migration, taking the decision to create a joint task force – European Union, African Union and United Nations – to protect those who are travelling and fleeing through the African continent, particularly in Libya. Here is the press release on my meeting with the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, and...