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...