Two important decisions, one historic mistake

Two important decisions, one historic mistake

I write after a difficult European Council: the heads of State and government have postponed the decision to open negotiations for Albania’s and North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union, in spite of the extraordinary progress achieved by both countries and against the European Commission’s advice. It is much more than a lost opportunity: it is a historic mistake, which I hope can be amended as soon as possible. The Council has also taken two important decisions: it approved the new agreement with London on the UK’s exit from the European Union; and it confirmed the decisions we had adopted on Monday with the Foreign Ministers on Turkey’s military intervention in Syria. Our response to Ankara’s attack against Syrian Kurds has been strong and united. Not only have we condemned the invasion: we have also decided that Member States will stop selling arms to Turkey – each of them respecting their national legislations – and we have adopted economic sanctions to respond to Turkey’s activities off the cost of Cyprus. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, and here is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day. Last week, at the European Parliament, I had already clarified another point: if Turkey decided to transfer hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in a so-called “safe zone” in north-east Syria, to replace the local population, we would never give our financial support to such operation. Here is my speech in the Parliament. On the day when the US withdrawal from north-east Syria was announced I was in Jordan, where I met King Abdullah, Crown Prince...
At the final European Parliament’s plenary before the election

At the final European Parliament’s plenary before the election

I write coming back from Strasbourg, after the last European Parliament’s plenary session before next month’s election. We dealt with some of the most urgent crises in our region – particularly those in Libya and in Sudan, but also the situation in the Golan Heights and in the West Bank. On Tuesday I presented our new strategy for the partnership between Europe and Latin America, after years when our relations have been more intense than ever. And on Thursday we worked on the human rights’ situation in China, in Brunei and in Cameroon. But this plenary was also the opportunity to thank the Members of the European Parliament after five years of common work and to take stock – of our successes and our difficulties, with some lessons learnt for the future. Here is the discussion on our legacy that I had with the Foreign Affairs and Development Committees. The week before was dedicated mostly to the new military escalation in Libya, in touch with Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj and the UN Special Envoy Ghassan Salame. We discussed Libya at length on Monday 8th in Luxembourg, with the Foreign Ministers of the European Union. All of us shared the same preoccupation for the consequences that the civilian population is suffering because of the offensive launched by General Khalifa Haftar and his troops. We also appealed to foreign actors to stop interfering, and to the parties to halt the fighting, accept the humanitarian ceasefire proposed by the UN and restart the UN-led dialogue. This is the message we sent both at the Foreign Affairs Council (press conference here) and again on Thursday 11th in our EU Declaration....
The European Union and China: a principled and pragmatic dialogue

The European Union and China: a principled and pragmatic dialogue

I write at the end of a full week in Brussels, at work with the Union’s Foreign Ministers, with the heads of government at the European Council, and with some important partners. We started the week with Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China – first for the EU-China Strategic Dialogue, then for a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the Twenty-Eight. It is the first time that a Chinese Foreign Minister meets with all his EU counterparts. This is the sign of how close our relationship is: China is a global power that we have some substantial disagreements with, it is at times a competitor, but it is also an essential partner cooperating with us on many issues that are crucial for global peace and security – from Iran to Korea. For this reason, we need a dialogue that is principled and pragmatic at the same time. Here is the press conference with Wang Yi. I also discussed China with the EU heads of government, at the European Council on Thursday and Friday – this is what I told journalists ahead of the meeting. The Council was marked mostly by an important decision on the future of the United Kingdom – more details here. In the margins of the summit, I met with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa to agree on our support to Mozambique, which has just been hit by a devastating cyclone – our press point is here. As always, I took part in the pre-summit with Socialist leaders: this time, it was an opportunity to meet with the Italian Democratic Party’s new leader, Nicola Zingaretti, for the...