Towards a Europe of defence

I write after coming back from Bulgaria, where I chaired an informal meeting of the European Union’s Defence Ministers. We worked on some practical projects we launched to build up a Europe of defence, for the first time in our history. And we talked about peacekeeping operations with two important partners: NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Here is what I told journalists before and after the meeting. We also discussed the new budget of the European Union, which for the first time will also deal with defence and security for our citizens. Last Wednesday we put forward, as European Commission, our proposal for a budget with important innovations – for instance, we propose to double the funds for the Erasmus programme. Here is our proposal. Last week had begun in Cairo, with a meeting of the Quartet for Libya – together with the Arab League, the African Union and the United Nations. Here is the press conference in Cairo. From Cairo I also commented on the presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran: I repeated that the deal with Iran is based on a strong monitoring mechanism by the International Atomic Energy Agency – it is not based on trust between the parties. And every inspection by the IAEA has certified that the deal is being implemented. Here is my answer to journalists on Iran. A few other important things from last week. On Thursday I chaired the Association Council with Moldova – here is the press conference after the Council. On Wednesday I took the floor in the European Parliament to debate the political crisis in Venezuela...
Together for the Sahel, and for our common security

Together for the Sahel, and for our common security

Today I am writing from Brussels, after an important day working on Sahel – a crucial region at the gates of Europe. The five Sahel countries – Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso –have decided to join forces to address challenges that none of them could have faced alone: terrorism, the trafficking of arms, drugs and human beings, the creation of good jobs for their youth. The European Union has accompanied this process since the very beginning, with constant political support to the “G5 Sahel”, with a military and civilian presence on the ground, with 8 billion euros for economic development in the region. Today, in Brussels, we gathered the five countries’ Presidents, the European Union’s heads of State and government, the President of the African Union, the United Nations and tens of international delegations at ministerial level. Together we mobilised new international support to the joint military force of the G5 Sahel, to fight terrorism, international crime and traffickers in the Sahel. We gathered more resources than expected: over 400 million euros, so that our partners’ joint force can be fully operational from next month. This is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day, and here is the press conference at the end of the meeting. The conference was also the opportunity to meet bilaterally the President of the African Union’s Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir, the Foreign Minister of Morocco Nasser Bourita, but also with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Some other important things from this week, first of all our work for Syria: on Monday I met again with...
With Rohingya refugees. Then at work with our Eastern partners and Africa

With Rohingya refugees. Then at work with our Eastern partners and Africa

I write after a week that begun in South-East Asia and ended with our partners from Eastern Europe. Last Sunday I was in Bangladesh to visit the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, hosting hundreds of thousands Rohingya refugees (video here). I heard stories – particularly from a group of women and mothers – so powerful that I will never forget. To help find a solution, I met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and the day after, in Myanmar, with State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi. I was in Myanmar on the occasion of the Asia-Europe Meeting: so on Monday morning we gathered all the Foreign Ministers who were there, to encourage an agreement on the Rohingyas’ fate (here my statement on behalf of EU ministers). And an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar was reached a few days later: now, as European Union, we expect that their return will happen fast and in safe conditions. Here is my statement on the agreement. The Asia-Europe meeting was also an opportunity to discuss cooperation on peace, security and economic growth with our Asian partners. Here is my speech at the opening ceremony of the summit, and the meeting’s conclusions. Back to Brussels, on Wednesday we worked to prepare next week’s summit between the African Union and the European Union. I met with the African Union’s Secretary General Moussa Faki, then – at the European Parliament – with Central-African President  Faustine-Archange Touadera and Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop. Over the last days, once again we saw terrible images coming from the detention camps in Libya: we have agreed joint measures to protect these people and help them go back to their homes (here is my joint statement the President...
One year after the British referendum: a stronger European Union

One year after the British referendum: a stronger European Union

I write after a week spent in Brussels and Luxembourg: it has been exactly one year since the referendum on Brexit – which, according to many, should have marked the beginning of the end for the European Union. Not only this was not the case: today, the European Union is stronger. We have understood what we could have lost – sixty years of peace and rights – and beyond that, we have understood that the only way to “take back control” in a globalised world is together: only as Europeans can we regain sovereignty, only together can we protect and promote our interests and values. And together we have found a way to relaunch our Union. On European defence, for instance, we have achieved more in one year than in the previous decade. At the European Council last Thursday the 28 EU countries have taken historic decisions: I talked about them before the Council, here is the video. The steps forward we have taken are part of the Global Strategy for foreign and security policy I presented one year ago. Last Monday I put out the first annual report on the Strategy’s implementation: here is the video on the main results, here my foreword to the report, here is my speech at the EU Institute for Security Studies’ annual conference. Talking about security: on Monday, at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg, we adopted a set of counter-terrorism measures. Among other decisions, we agreed to expand the network of counter-terrorism experts working in the EU Delegations to third countries. I explain these decisions in this article, written together with the Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King. And here is...