A strong, reliable, indispensable partner

A strong, reliable, indispensable partner

I write after a week that was particularly dense with meetings. It started in Brussels, for the NATO ministerial, then Bonn for the G20, and Munich for the Security Conference. The message I gathered, in all the bilateral meetings I had, is that the world looks at the European Union as a strong, reliable, cooperative and indispensable partner. A much stronger one than we usually realise. And an even more indispensable partner in dangerous and confused times, when rules are too often perceived as a constraint for some, not as a guarantee for all. The European Union is a point of reference when talking about peace, multilateralism, development, rights, free and fair trade. But also when talking about security – for our military and civilian missions around the world, and for cooperation with NATO. And more. It would be an illusion to believe that the challenges ahead of us can be faced with military force only. So the European Union invests in development, in the promotion of human rights, in education, in policies against climate change. We invest in strong societies, not in strong men: it is much more effective to bring real stability. This is not “philanthropy,” these are not just high-minded sentiments: it is a rational investment in our own security. This is what I told the Munich Security Conference, yesterday morning. Inequalities create instability and frailty – this is what we discussed at the G20 in Bonn. In the past, we could talk about what we could do “for” Africa; today, we must understand what we can do together, “with” Africa. We are partners for peace and security, for democracy and rights, for sustainable development,...
Twelve things to bring with us in 2017

Twelve things to bring with us in 2017

First day of the year, it is time for taking stock of the past year and for setting the objectives for the months ahead. 2016 was a very tough year, and 2017 has started with a terrible terrorist attack in Istanbul: this reminds us dramatically that the work we still have to do – to defeat terrorism, but also to end the too many conflicts in the region – is a work we must do together. Together, by trying and building the unity of our communities, every day; and together with our partners, starting with our neighbours. The year that has just started will not be easy, but there are things we managed to build in 2016 that we can bring with us, to accompany us along the way. These are twelve moments I wish to bring with me, to guide our work through 2017.   A Global Strategy for our foreign policy We have worked on it for months, and the work ended in a very peculiar moment. The British citizens had just voted to leave the European Union. Some thought it would be better to wait for a better moment. For me, it was important – in those very hours – to set up a common Strategy, for the whole Union, for our foreign and security policy. So, after months of collective work, I presented the Global Strategy to the European Council of June 28th: a clear and shared idea on the path ahead, on our citizens’ needs, on what needs to change but also – and foremost – on our strength, which we must use with more pride and...
Good news at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Good news at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

We’ve had two intense days of work here in Brussels at the international Conference on Afghanistan, after months of preparations. But all the effort we put into organising this event – together with the Afghan government, and with the participation of 75 countries and 26 international organisations – has led to a very positive outcome.  Some well deserved good news, in times when good news are like gold dust. The most visible success is our collective commitment to invest 13,6 billion euros over the coming four years, to support growth, jobs and security in Afghanistan. In the last few months many told us that international support for Afghanistan would fall, and the conference would fail. The pledges instead have exceeded all expectations. And the European Union is the leading donor, with 5 billion euros. Here is my doorstep with journalists  as I arrived at the conference, and my opening speech. This is a “new deal” for Afghanistan, a global one. Yet, this new deal also has a strong regional component. Last night, for the first time ever, I gathered ministers from the United States, China, India and Pakistan, with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and our Afghan partners, to build up regional support for peace and reconciliation in the country. A global and regional new deal can only succeed with strong support inside the country, a new deal inside the Afghan society. The national unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah has been a fundamental partner to make this conference a success. It is vital that cooperation continues, and the government engages in an even closer dialogue with all parts of the Afghan society. In the last...