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....
At work on the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East

At work on the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East

I write at the end of a week spent in Brussels – at work mostly on the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East. My week started with the Association Council with Ukraine: together with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, we talked about the situation in Crimea and the Sea of Azov, but also about the economic and anti-corruption reforms that the government is carrying on with the European Union’s support. Here is the press conference after the meeting, here is the press release. Then, a series of meetings with our partners in the Balkans. On Wednesday I hosted an informal lunch with the six leaders from the region: we discussed the work ahead to consolidate their path towards the European Union. They all confirmed their support to last summer’s agreement between Greece and the future Northern Macedonia, and to the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. I also met separately with Skopje’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Montenegro’s President Milo Dukanovic, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for the Association Council with Kosovo (press release here, and here is the statement on Pristina’s decision to change the Kosovo Security Forces’ mandate), and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic for the Association Council with Serbia (press conference here). On Thursday I chaired the Association Council with Egypt – this is the press conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri: we discussed cooperation among our countries, but also – and mainly – the situation in the region, in particular tensions in Israel and Palestine. It is a delicate moment for the Middle East: on the one hand, the attempts to bring an end to the war in Yemen (here is...
Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

I write after a historic week for the European Union. Last Monday, with the Foreign Ministers of the Union, we officially launched a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence among 25 European Member States: it is a binding commitment to invest together, to strengthen our defence industry together, to act together for peace and security. We start with 17 projects for practical cooperation – I have talked about it at the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg. On Thursday, at the European Council, we celebrated this success with the heads of State and government. But the work has already restarted: on Wednesday night I was with Javier Solana and Joschka Fischer – two great Europeans who have worked a lot to relaunch our Union on foreign and defence policy – and I presented six ideas on the next steps for European defence. Now we have the right tools, and we have a duty to explore their potential at full. Here is my speech. On Friday, then, I had the pleasure to go back to NATO headquarters together with the people who work with me everyday, as guests of Jens Stoltenberg and his team. It was a way to show that a stronger European defence goes hand in hand with a stronger cooperation between the European Union and NATO. But last week we didn’t only work on defence. Last Monday I welcomed to Brussels the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, together with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers. I was the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister in Brussels in over twenty years: today Israel and the European Union are tied by a strong friendship, which allows us to be very open about our disagreements. On Jerusalem,...
United and determined

United and determined

I write after coming back from Tallinn, where I chaired the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign and Defence Ministers – at the end of a difficult week of international tensions, after the latest North Korean nuclear test. We managed to respond to these tensions with unity and determination, and with some important decisions – which I explain here. With the Foreign Minister we addressed the crisis in Venezuela, with a commitment to keep on with our contacts to help bring the crisis to an end – particularly our contacts with Latin-American partners. We also discussed the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and decided to start a review of the modalities of our engagement on the ground: we do not want to reduce our engagement, but on the contrary to make it more effective towards the only realistic goal to end the conflict, that is, a two-state solution. Another important point on our agenda, which we discussed with the Ministers of the five candidate countries to EU membership: the prevention of radicalisation and the fight against terrorism. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and here is my discussion with members of Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees from all around Europe to discuss the priorities of our common foreign and security policy. Because in Tallinn, over the last two days, we also carried on our work on the European common security and defence. First, with an exercise on cyber-security, together (for the first time) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; and then with some important decisions on strengthening our common European commitment in two essential regions for us: the Sahel and the Horn of...
An indispensable Union, for Europeans and for the world

An indispensable Union, for Europeans and for the world

I write from Brussels, in a day when European institutions open their doors to citizens. It is a good way to remind that the European Union belongs to all Europeans – as a protection in the globalised world, a guarantor of rights, an opportunity of peace and economic growth. Yesterday I was in Florence instead, at the annual “State of the Union” conference organised by the European University Institute. I answered questions from Roula Khalaf from the Financial Times, telling her what all our global partners tell me every day: there is a great need for a strong European Union, an ever more indispensable power in our difficult international environment. Here is the video of the conference. Over the week I have met many of our partners, here in Brussels, starting with our neighbours in the Mediterranean. On Tuesday I inaugurated the European Parliament’s Tunisia week, together with President Antonio Tajani and the President of the Tunisian Parliament Mohamed Ennaceur. I said once again that Tunisia is not only a fundamental country for our region’s stability, but also a hope for democracy in tough times. This is also why Tunisia – and its youth people, in particular – can always count on our support. Here is my speech (in French). During these days we also worked on Libya: yesterday I spoke to Prime Minister Fayez Al Serraj and the Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, to discuss Serraj’s meeting with Khalifa Haftar. Here is the press release. On Thursday I chaired the annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donors for Palestine. Together with the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Russians and the Americans, the United...