A force for peace and security, still after Brexit

A force for peace and security, still after Brexit

I write after the first meeting of the European Council at 27, without the United Kingdom, where we set together our position in the Brexit negotiations. Today I saw great unity and the understanding that we – who remain in the EU – have the responsibility to make our Union work the best we can, for our citizens and for peace and security in the world. The European Union will remain, even without the UK, the second largest economy in the world, the biggest market, the greatest engine for cooperation and development on Earth. Here is my doorstep with journalists arriving at the Council.

Over the last few days I was in Malta instead, for the informal gathering of the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Twenty-eight. Three days of common work, with some important results.

First of all, on defence. We decided to keep heading towards a real European Union of security and defence: we are preparing a Permanent Structured Cooperation among Member States on defence and a Coordinated Annual Review of military spending, to make Europeans more secure and to invest our resources more efficiently. We are also removing the obstacles that so far have prevented us from deploying the Battlegroups, Europe’s rapid response force. Here is what I told journalists ahead of the Defence Ministers’ meeting, here the final press conference.

And here is the visit to the San Giusto ship of Operation Sophia, the European naval operation that keeps saving lives in the Mediterranean, arresting smugglers and helping the Libyan coastguard do the same in their own territorial waters.

But we didn’t only focus on defence. Yesterday, with the Foreign Ministers, we agreed on a common position about where we stand on Turkey and the future of our relationship, particularly after the constitutional referendum in the country. I also talked about it directly with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in a bilateral meeting last night in Malta. Here is the doorstep before the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, here the press conference after it, explaining our common position.

Part of our works in Malta was also attended by the Ministers of the other candidate countries to the membership of the European Union, in the Balkans. A fundamental region for Europe, and a source of very negative news over the last few days: here is my statement, together with Johannes Hahn, on the situation in Skopje.

Finally, in Malta I also took part in the Inter-Parliamentary Conference, with delegates from the European Parliament and EU national parliaments, for a conversation on our foreign and security policy. Here is the video of my opening speech, and the Q&A with the members of the various parliaments.