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....
Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

First day of the year, and as usual I have decided to look back at the best moments of the last twelve months. 2018 ended on a sad note: a few days ago the world lost Amos Oz – an Israeli writer who never stopped believing in the possibility of peace and of the two-state solution. Oz once wrote: “There is no need to establish whose fault it was, whose blindness it was that caused the tragedy. What we need is to find a way out of the mire.” I would like to keep this lesson in mind as the new year begins. Against all the difficulties in our world and our times, we can try to build little big solutions, together with those who have the will and the possibility to do so. We know that great changes can start with small steps forward. This is also the common thread in the twelve moments from 2018 that I bring with me in the new year. These moments show that the European Union has become an indispensable point of reference, globally. And they let us look at the future with hope, in spite of all difficulties.   The Lake Prespa agreement In June I was at the border between Greece and the future North Macedonia, for the signature of an historic agreement between Athens and Skopje: thanks to the leadership and the courage of their Prime Ministers – Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev – the two countries have solved an issue that had poisoned their relationship for decades. The agreement sent a message of peace for the whole of...
Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

I write after coming back from Libya, where we have just re-established a direct European Union’s presence: we have re-opened our Embassy and our mission to help Libyans control their borders. This is the result of years of common work with the Libyans and the United Nations: we have accompanied negotiations to end the crisis in the country, we have trained the Libyan coastguard through Operation Sophia, we have supported the Libyan people creating jobs and investing in education and healthcare, and we have freed thirty thousand migrants from detention centres in the country. Yesterday in Tripoli I met with Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj and Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala: we discussed the upcoming election and new European projects in the country. I met with the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame and the representatives of all UN agencies in the capital, but also with our Embassy’s staff, our EUBAM mission, and Libyans who manage projects financed by the European Union. Here is a press release, here my words in front of cameras in Tripoli. This week I also met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, the Union for the Mediterranean’s new Secretary General Nasser Kamel, and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah. It was also the week of the NATO Summit in Brussels, where we agreed on the next steps in the common work we are doing for Europe’s security – the EU and NATO together (here is our new EU-NATO Joint Declaration). At the Summit we discussed Afghanistan – and I met again with President Ashraf Ghani, press release here – and our common work against the terrorists...

Ora i governi investano sull’Africa. Lettera a Repubblica

Qui sul sito di Repubblica Caro direttore, la storia ci insegna che soluzioni facili a situazioni complesse spesso aggiungono tragedia a tragedie. Le grandi migrazioni sono un fenomeno antico, ma oggi hanno dimensioni planetarie. Milioni di persone fuggono da guerre e povertà, e solo il 10% di loro cerca approdo in Europa. Una sfida di questa portata può essere affrontata solo con un lavoro condiviso, improntato alla cooperazione e al rispetto, iniziando fuori dai nostri confini. Siamo partiti quasi da zero: fino al 2015 le migrazioni non erano un tema di politica estera per l’Unione europea. In questi anni abbiamo stretto alleanze con i Paesi chiave per la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale e messo in campo con l’Onu progetti che iniziano a portare risultati, salvando decine di migliaia di vite e riducendo dell’80% gli sbarchi in Italia. Ora bisogna che questi primi risultati siano consolidati, con un maggiore impegno di tutti gli Stati membri. La Libia è stata il perno della nostra azione. A iniziare dal Mediterraneo, con l’Operazione militare europea Sophia, a guida italiana, lanciata nel 2015: decine di scafisti bloccati, centinaia di imbarcazioni distrutte, migliaia di vite salvate, duecento guardacoste libici addestrati, anche al rispetto dei diritti umani. Poi lavoriamo dentro la Libia: con l’assistenza nella gestione delle frontiere, con 130 milioni per sostenere le comunità locali assieme all’Italia e alle Nazioni Unite. Insieme a Unione africana e Onu in sette mesi abbiamo evacuato oltre 20mila migranti rinchiusi in condizioni disumane nei centri di detenzione. Chi ne aveva diritto ha ottenuto un canale di protezione; gli altri sono stati aiutati a tornare in patria con un sostegno...
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,...