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New York, 19 September 2016
On how to address the roots of today's challenges and to ensure that the European project is able to preserve the peace?
First of all, Madeleine [Albright], Madame Secretary, thanks for having me being here and for this question. Let me start by saying that the European Union is not at risk. My generation has lived European integration, enjoying the results of this and also enjoying some luxuries of the European integration: free movement of people, single currency and indeed a world that has allowed Europeans to live in an island of prosperity and stability.
Today, we live a paradox: in a moment when the European integration is needed more - because to face migration you need more cooperation on the regional and continental and international levels; to fight terrorism you need more cooperation and information sharing - not less, in the moment when we need it the most, some are arguing that we should lose or destroy what we have gained.
Let me tell you one thing: my generation and the generations younger than me will not let this happen. We are facing a crisis, but the European Union has always come out of a crisis stronger than before. We have proceeded by waves of integrations and I am sure that we will manage to come out stronger even now.
On development and security, I have clear stories in my mind. My first trip to Africa in this position was to Agadez, the North of Niger, where, when you land, in an airport that used to be a tourist airport, young people and women tell you: "We were living out of tourism here, then the security situation went down, climate change and the desertification made it impossible, and now it is people smuggling and human trafficking and all kind of illegal activities". How do we make sure that those young people, those women, have economic opportunities that are meeting their aspirations, making the country safe, making the route to Libya safe, and so making also Europe safe?
We have a huge opportunity to finally show that investing in development cooperation and investing also in the European integration process, is an investment in your own national interest. There is no distance there. Never before we have had this historic opportunity. This is what we are doing. As you might know – as you know for sure – the European Union is the first donor on humanitarian aid, on development cooperation - we now need to go to the next stage which is having the private sector in and unite forces.
On the new initiative launched by the EU?
First, this idea is what we called migration compacts or partnerships. We are developing it with five African countries to start with. Nigeria is one of those but also Niger, Mali, Senegal and Ethiopia. And the idea is to build a partnership to manage migration from the root causes, so helping development locally, in the communities where we see the flows starting the most, but also helping those countries to manage the refugee flows they are hosting themselves because the most of refugees and migrants are hosted in African countries – not in Europe. I am saying it all over Europe, it is a difficult message to pass in Europe. But we need to spread the message that migration and refugees is not a European crisis, it is a global trend and we need partnerships on a global level to manage this phenomenon together.
Second is what Madeleine was referring to, we have just launched, in the European Union, a huge investment plan for Africa and the Mediterranean. It is going to mobilise 50 billion US dollars for Africa and the Mediterranean to accompany and encourage private investments in fragile states. Because wherever I travel in Africa or in the Mediterranean we are putting the money on development, on humanitarian aid, but what we hear more and more, is that these countries need investment, be it on connections, digital, energy, job creation, small and medium enterprises, women entrepreneurships, youth opportunities. We have a great public sector, for sure, but we also have a great private sector that if accompanied, to expand in countries that are countries of huge opportunities and potential, could bring economic development there, opportunities, and also prevent conflict and crisis and also radicalisation.
This is what we are doing so my call for action will be for all countries to join in, we are starting with 4 billion EU funds that will mobilise, matching with private investment and international financial institutions, up to 50 billion US dollars. If countries around the world match this pledge, we could even double this amount of money. And, most of all, for the private sector to take the risk, and accompanied by the guarantees we will offer, invest in the fragile countries, because this is an investment in our own security, in our own future but also in our own present.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I126213