We can choose to change our times

We can choose to change our times

I write after a week in Brussels and in Germany, concluded by a European Council dealing with many important issues for the security of European citizens and the world.

Starting with North Korea: the leaders of the Twenty-eight supported our decision to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, to try and open a new channel for dialogue to end the current crisis (here are the Council conclusions). On Friday afternoon, here in Brussels, I talked about this with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Kang Kyung-wha (press release here).

The Council also endorsed the work we are doing to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, to manage migration flows and for Africa’s development. I talked about this with journalists arriving at the Council, here.

And we confirmed that by the end of the year we will launch – for the first time in our Union’s history – a Permanent structured cooperation among Member States on defence. It is the conclusion of a work we initiated almost two years ago, but also a new beginning, towards a Union that can be an even stronger force for peace and security – for Europeans and for the world.

Three other important things from the last few days. Today, in Geneva, the European Union hosted with Kuwait a conference to support Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. We announced an extra 30 million in aid to Rohingyas in Bangladesh – here is the press release. I discussed the situation in Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi last Thursday – also ahead of the Europe-Asia summit to be hold there in November (press release).

Last Tuesday I was in Germany, where I received the “Emperor Otto” Prize of the city of Magdebourg. A prize for European integration and the unification of our continent: here is my speech, and the laudatio by Ursula von der Leyen.

And on Wednesday, back to Brussels, I was at “Europe Together” – an event organised by the group of Socialists and Democrats to chart the way towards the 2019 European election. I saw so many young people wanting to make something good and make a difference to our difficult times. Because we cannot choose the times we live in – but we can choose to try and change our times, together. Here is my speech, text and video.