Working to preserve the deal with Iran

Working to preserve the deal with Iran

I write after coming back from Bulgaria, where together with the whole College of European Commissioners we inaugurated the Bulgarian semester of Presidency of the European Union. The next six months will be particularly important for our relations with the Balkans: our goal remains to consolidate our six partners’ path  towards the EU, so it becomes an irreversible process. These were intense days, especially because of our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran. On Thursday I chaired a meeting in Brussels with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and with the Foreign Ministers of the three European countries that negotiated the deal (Jean-Yves Le Drian for France, Boris Johnson for Britain, and Sigmar Gabriel for Germany). The deal is working, the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified it nine times already, and it is crucial for the security of Europe and the world. It is positive that yesterday President Donald Trump confirmed that the United States will respect their commitments, extending the waiver on nuclear-related sanctions foreseen by the deal. Our meeting in Brussels was also the opportunity to discuss other themes that are not related to the nuclear deal, as the last weeks’ protests in Iran, the tensions in the Middle East and Iran’s ballistic missiles program. There are issues we Europeans are concerned about, which we are committed to tackling with even greater determination, outside the scope of the nuclear deal: in fact, the deal was negotiated on the basis on a UN mandate that limited its scope very clearly. Here is the press conference with Le Drian, Johnson and Gabriel dopo l’incontro. For the European Union, the Middle East is a strategic...
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,...