Ups and downs at the European Council

Ups and downs at the European Council

I write at the end of an uphill and complicated European Council; it was marked by difficulties and divisions among Member States on matters that are much more linked to their domestic dynamics than to a common European horizon. Our major disappointment was the impossibility to agree on the trade deal with Canada – the best trade deal we have ever negotiated, with very high standards: Canada is a country that shares our values and our outlook on international, commercial, economic and social policies. The lack of agreement among Member States is blocking a deal that has been reached thanks to so much hard work, and would be beneficial to the whole Union: this is upsetting, and sad.

The discussion on our foreign policy choices went in a completely different way. Yesterday afternoon I presented the Heads of State and Government with the first results of our migration compacts with five African countries. We all agree that we are finally on the right track: we work together with our partners, investing in their strength and in our cooperation. And in December we are going to discuss the possibility to extend the same approach to more countries. Our work goes on also on the European External Investment Plan, which has to become fully operational as soon as possible. Here are the Council conclusions on migration.

We also had a very long discussion on the situation in Aleppo and in the whole of Syria. It is crucial to allow humanitarian aid to reach all besieged areas, trying to extend the current ceasefire. The Twenty-eight have supported clearly and unanimously the two proposals I put forward over the last few weeks: a humanitarian plan for Aleppo, to let aid in and let the wounded out; and a dialogue with regional powers, to look for a political solution but also to discuss about the reconstruction and the future of Syria.

We need to keep working together, the entire Union, as we did so far. Including in our relations with Russia, coupling firmness – in our criticism of violence against civilians in Syria, and in the work to fully implement the Minsk agreements on Ukraine – with dialogue, where our interests can converge. Here are the Council conclusions on Syria and Russia, here is my meeting with journalists ahead of the summit.