From Africa to the Gulf. Then the new European Parliament’s first plenary

From Africa to the Gulf. Then the new European Parliament’s first plenary

I write after two weeks in Africa, the Gulf and in Strasbourg, for the first plenary of the new European Parliament. After my trip to Central Asia and the summit in Ukraine two weeks ago, I arrived in Burkina Faso for the fifth annual meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the five Sahel countries. These countries want to be stronger and more autonomous: it is our European interest to help build a stronger and more stable Sahel, so we will continue to support them both on economic development and on security issues. In Burkina I announced an extra 138 million euros in support to the G5 Sahel Joint military force – here is the press conference. The meeting with the G5 was also the opportunity for a bilateral visit to Burkina: there I met with President Roch Marc Kabore, Prime Minister Christophe Dabire and Foreign Minister Alpha Barry. But I also visited the French-Arab school El Bayane, which is financed by the European Union – because good education for children is the foundation of any strong country. From Burkina to Mali. On top of my meetings with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the government and Foreign Minister Tiébilé Dramé, I visited the central region of the country, where security is particularly fragile. There I met a group of local leaders and civil society representatives. It is up to the Malians to build a new era in the history of their country – an era of national dialogue and fight against terrorist – but we Europeans are ready to support them with all means at our disposal. Here is my press conference in Mali....
Two important results on Mercosur and Iran

Two important results on Mercosur and Iran

I write at the end of a week when we achieved two very important results. On Friday, after years of negotiations, we reached a trade agreement with the Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is good news for European firms, but the deal goes well beyond trade: it protects workers’ rights and the environment, it creates political dialogue and multilateral cooperation. Europe and Latin America are closer than ever. This week I had discussed the deal with Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, during his visit to Brussels – press release here. On Friday we also gave an important announcement on the defence of the nucleare deal with Iran: the instrument to support legitimate trade exchanges with Iran (called INSTEX) has become operational and is processing the first transactions. Together with the three countries that set it up – France, Germany and the UK – another seven European countries will join the mechanism. On Friday we also gathered the Joint Commission that works to guarantee the deal’s implementation: press release here. Over the week we worked a lot on European defence: on Monday I was at the European Defence Agency (here is my speech), and on Wednesday I joined the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting. Transatlantic cooperation was also at the core of my conversation at the annual Brussels Forum organised by the German Marshall Fund – here is the video. On Friday I also met with the US Envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey, and I spoke to the UN Envoy Geir Pedersen. This week I met some important partners for the EU. On Thursday I chaired the Association...