Two important decisions, one historic mistake

Two important decisions, one historic mistake

I write after a difficult European Council: the heads of State and government have postponed the decision to open negotiations for Albania’s and North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union, in spite of the extraordinary progress achieved by both countries and against the European Commission’s advice. It is much more than a lost opportunity: it is a historic mistake, which I hope can be amended as soon as possible.

The Council has also taken two important decisions: it approved the new agreement with London on the UK’s exit from the European Union; and it confirmed the decisions we had adopted on Monday with the Foreign Ministers on Turkey’s military intervention in Syria.

Our response to Ankara’s attack against Syrian Kurds has been strong and united. Not only have we condemned the invasion: we have also decided that Member States will stop selling arms to Turkey – each of them respecting their national legislations – and we have adopted economic sanctions to respond to Turkey’s activities off the cost of Cyprus. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, and here is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day. Last week, at the European Parliament, I had already clarified another point: if Turkey decided to transfer hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in a so-called “safe zone” in north-east Syria, to replace the local population, we would never give our financial support to such operation. Here is my speech in the Parliament.

On the day when the US withdrawal from north-east Syria was announced I was in Jordan, where I met King Abdullah, Crown Prince Hussein and Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi. Here is my press conference in Amman.

In these weeks I have had several occasions to reflect on these years of work. First at the College of Europe’s EU Diplomacy Lecture in Bruges, where next year I will teach a class on EU foreign policy – here is my speech. With the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and the Italian Istituto di affari internazionali (IAI) I discussed the main features of a progressive European foreign policy – here is the full event. At Oxford University I went though the main achievements of these five years – speech here.

Last week, at the European Parliament, I took stock of five years of work with Ukraine.

And in Barcelona, I took part in my last ministerial meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean: it is an organisation with a unique potential to promote regional cooperation, which had discontinued its ministerial meetings and which we reinvigorated at the beginning of my mandate. Here is my opening speech.

Finally, last Thursday I signed in Brussels an agreement for Vietnam’s participation in our military and civilian missions – a sign of the ever closer cooperation with our Asian partners, for the security of both Europe and Asia. The press conference is here.