Two important achievements for the Europe of defence

Two important achievements for the Europe of defence

I write after a week spent in Brussels and in Turkey, which started with some important achievements in our work on the Europe of defence and ended today with the meeting of the 27 heads of government on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. My week started with the meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Union, with the participation – as usual – of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. On Tuesday we added two elements to our work for Europe to be more secure and a more effective global force for peace. We approved seventeen new projects in the framework of our Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence – from drones to a European school of intelligence, from cyber-security to aerospace. And we decided to strengthen the civilian dimension of our international missions – which is already today a European pride, from Mali to Ukraine, from Iraq to Somalia. We want to expand even more our civilian action, with new capacities and shorter reaction time. We also discussed the future of Operation Sophia, our naval mission in the Mediterranean: all ministers confirmed their support to the Operation, but if there will be no agreement on its future in the coming few weeks, we will have to suspend it. Here is what I told journalists before the Council with Defence ministers, and the final press conference. On Monday, with the Foreign Ministers, we talked about the war in Yemen – in a moment when a de-escalation seems possible, and after my phone call with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith. We also worked on Ukraine, Bosnia and...
In Vienna, with our eyes on the Balkans, the Middle East and Iran

In Vienna, with our eyes on the Balkans, the Middle East and Iran

I write after coming back from Austria, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, where I chaired the informal meetings of European Foreign and Defence Ministers. We were in Vienna, the city where three years ago – after years of negotiations – we finalised the nuclear deal with Iran. There could be no better place to start a year, which we will dedicate to a great extent to protecting and strengthening the system of multilateral institutions. Deals like the one with Iran contribute to Europe’s security, and investing in this kind of “effective multilateralism” is the only way to truly defend the European citizens’ interests. Austria has decided to dedicate its semester of EU Presidency precisely to effective multilateralism, but also to our work with the Balkans: we talked about both issues with Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen (the video is here). In Vienna we were joined by the Foreign Ministers of the European Union’s candidate countries. We discussed our common work to protect and promote multilateralism, a few weeks before the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York. And we also discussed our continent’s security, together with representatives from NATO and the United Nations. Cooperation with the Balkans was also discussed in the informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers, together with NATO and the United Nations. With the Defence Ministers we worked on new common projects to strengthen the European Union’s defence: we will launch these projects thanks to the Permanent Structured Cooperation we created last year. With Defence and Foreign Ministers we discussed the future of Operation Sophia, our naval mission in the Mediterranean:...