At work for the Mediterranean, with our North African partners

At work for the Mediterranean, with our North African partners

I write at the end of a week spent working mostly on North Africa and the Mediterranean. On Tuesday I was in Strasbourg for the European Parliament’s plenary session, on the eve of a vote on the new association agreement between the European Union and Morocco. The agreement was passed with a large majority, and it will allow us to open a new phase in our relationship with a strategic partner like Morocco – a key country for North Africa’s stability. Right after the vote, I took off to Morocco – where I met with King Mohammed VI (press release here), Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani (here is what I told journalists right after the meeting), Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (press conference here), the Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit, Economy Minister Mohamed Benchaaboun and the President of the House of Representatives Habib el Malki. From Morocco to Malta, for a meeting of the ten Western Mediterranean countries’ Foreign Ministers – five from Europe (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Malta) and five from Africa (Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya). It is the first time that a High Representative of the European Union takes part in this “five plus five” meeting: it is the sign that Europe finally understands that peace, security and development on the other shore of the Mediterranean are crucial to peace, security and development here at home. This is my speech in Malta, with the images of a meeting with a group of young people from the ten countries, who presented us with their proposals on how to make the most out of these opportunities for regional...
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...