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[Today, the European Union] leaders will discuss two very important topics: Security and Defence and our relations with our Southern Neighbourhood.
On Security and Defence, it is the first discussion at the European Union Council in this area since December 2018.
I think it is a timely discussion, as we are advancing on the Strategic Compass. I will inform the European Union leaders about the ongoing work and next steps. We need to find a common understanding of the challenges that threat the European Union, the challenges we are facing, in order to propose ways to tackle them all together.
This exercise is the first ever [EU]-wide threat analysis. It was presented last November. It was incorporated as the first step on this process. Now, we will need to identify concrete objectives that will guide our future work in Security and Defence for the years to come.
This discussion is a very important part of our transatlantic relations.
At the Council today, the Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg will participate at the beginning of the meeting, as a clear sign of the close partnership that the European Union has with NATO, a clear sign of the partnership between the two organisations. Our cooperation has been advancing in the past and will continue doing so. There is a strong demand in the current difficult and challenging environment for the European Union and NATO to work more closely together.
We are going also to talk about the Southern Neighbourhood. The political and economic situation in the Southern Neighbourhood countries requires the attention of the European Union Council. The two regions are closely intertwined. Earlier this month, together with the Commission, we proposed an ambitious agenda backed by an economic and investment plan to strengthen our cooperation with our neighbours in the Mediterranean. It is very important to do so because the gap between the two shores of the Mediterranean has been increasing, not decreasing but increasing.
We have common challenges and we have to deal with them together: climate change, green and digital transformations, and above all security and migration. We have to turn these challenges into opportunities.
Finally, I take this occasion to say a word about the Iran nuclear deal. The latest nuclear steps by Iran are very much concerning. You will have seen our reaction in the European Union declaration that we issued yesterday, from the Council.
But at the same time, I am convinced, as coordinator of the JCPOA [Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] that we do have a diplomatic space, a diplomatic window of opportunity for dialogue at this moment and to reinvigorate this deal according with the wish explained and expressed by the new Biden administration.
We need to use this opportunity and focus on solutions to bring the JCPOA back on track, in order for everybody to fulfil their commitments. This is an occasion that we cannot miss.