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, we told Netanyahu that the European position is still the same: Jerusalem can only be the capital of two States – the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. Here is my press conference with Netanyahu, here is the one after the Foreign Affairs Council (also on defence and the Sahel).
I talked about Jerusalem also the Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, last Thursday in Brussels (press conference here), and at the European Parliament’s plenary on Tuesday (here is my speech and the debate with the members of Parliament). In Strasbourg we also discussed Iran (speech and debate), the situation of the Rohingyas (speech and debate) and the situation of migrants in Libya (here is the debate).
Our work to help all the people who are stranded in Libya’s detention centres continues, at an unprecedented pace and with unprecedented results. In the first ten days after the summit in Abidjan between European Union and African Union, we helped 2,000 people go back home from Libya. And we intend to support 15,000 other people by the end of February. On Thursday I gathered for the first time the new joint task force of the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations on migration. Here is our press conference.