From Washington to Samarkand

From Washington to Samarkand

I write on my way back from Central Asia: in Kyrgyzstan first, for a bilateral visit, then in Uzbekistan, in Samarkand, for the annual meeting between the European Union and the Foreign Minister of five Central Asian countries. For centuries Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have been a crossroads between East and West. They still are. For our economies, as a strategic connection for international trade on the old Silk Road, and for energy. But also for our security, from Afghanistan to the fight against terrorism and the prevention of radicalisation. These countries increasingly look at Europe not only as their first market and donor, but also as a strong and reliable political partner. In Samarkand we decided to strengthen our partnership for the years to come. The European Union has encouraged a lot, and continues to encourage, the reform process that has started in all five countries, at different speeds – be it economic reform or on justice, the rule of law and civil rights. We discussed how to move forward this path towards reforms and change in all my bilateral meetings: in Bishkek with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, President-elect Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Prime Minister Sapar Isakov; in Samarkand with the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov, of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov, of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldayev, of Tajikistan Sirodjidin Aslov, and of Turkmenistan Raşit Meredow. Here is my speech in Samarkand and the final press conference. My visit to Samarkand was also the opportunity to meet again with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to talk about the nuclear deal. The European Union is determined to make sure everyone implements the agreement, which is working as certified eight times by the International Atomic Energy...
Maastricht, the Balkans, Africa

Maastricht, the Balkans, Africa

I write after a week spent mostly in Brussels, working on Africa, on the Balkans and the future of the European Union. On Thursday I celebrated twenty-five years since the Treaty of Maastricht, in the very hall where it was signed, with university students from all around Europe. In Maastricht we stopped being just a free trade area, and became a Union. From that moment on, we are not only customers, but citizens – with plenty of rights but also with the responsibility to always contribute to making our Union work. Here is the video of my speech. The Treaty of Maastricht spoke about “ending the divisions of the European continent:” not just a dream, but a concrete goal. And our continent will not be truly united until all our partners in the Balkans are not part of the European Union. This week we have continued to work for all our six partners to take irreversible steps on their path towards the European Union. On Friday I met with the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Behgjet Pacolli: here is the press release. Over the week we also had two meetings and one important achievement on Africa. On Wednesday I opened the “Africa week” organised by the group of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament. The hashtag for the event, #withAfrica, perfectly sums up the transition we are working on, from a donor-recipient mentality to a full partnership between the European Union and Africa. Here is my speech. With the same spirit, this week our new European External Investment Plan has become reality: a program to help European firms – including small and medium enterprises –...

EU kick-starts its new External Investment Plan

Following the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council, the European Commission immediately starts the implementation of its ambitious External Investment Plan to boost investments in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood. The European Parliament and the Council have adopted the European Fund for Sustainable Development, the heart piece of the EU’s new External Investment Plan (EIP). The EIP will support more inclusive and sustainable development in Africa and the European Neighbourhood. It will boost public and private investment and thus address some of the obstacles to growth in our partner countries and of the root causes of irregular migration. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “Less than 10 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa goes to fragile regions – those that need it the most. We want our External Investment Plan to become a powerful engine of more inclusive and sustainable growth, to create green energy, to bring new opportunities to entrepreneurs, also in the European Union, to young people, to empower women. This is the plan Africa needs, this is what our African partners are asking for, this is European partnership at its best.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added: “Our External Investment Plan marks a new approach for eradicating poverty and achieving inclusive sustainable development. By leveraging in particular private finance, our contribution of €4.1 billion will leverage up to €44 billion of investments which otherwise would not happen. Now it is up to all key players of the private sector in Europe and in our partner countries to join us in creating sustainable growth and decent jobs for the benefit of...