Delegation of the European Union to Syria

Remarks by the High Representative and Vice-president Federica Mogherini at the Press conference of the Informal Ministerial meeting with Southern ENP partners on the future of European Neighbourhood Policy, Barcelona

Bruxelles, 13/04/2015 - 16:47, UNIQUE ID: 150413_02
Statements by the HR/VP


I would like to thank the Minister and the Government of Spain for the initiative, for the hospitality, for the excellent initiative and the hospitality.

It was the first time today after seven years that all Foreign Ministers of the European Union and of our Southern partners come together. And I think that the meeting we had this morning and the discussions we are going to have still after this press conference showed us very well that we cannot afford having another seven years without meeting. So my suggestion will be, has been to the Ministers, to make this meeting annual and make sure that every year we meet and we exchange views. This year it was on the review of our policy, of our tools for cooperation. But the issues on the agenda are definitely not few ones, the list is very long and for sure after twenty years of the Barcelona process we have one certainty, which is that we need cooperation in the region, even more than twenty years ago. 
We need to work more together as we share probably the most difficult, turbulent region in the world. It was probably not the case twenty years ago but it is for sure the case today. And so we all know very well I think around our tables of meetings this morning, all around our region, all around the European Union for sure but I know all around the Mediterranean, that there is not one single issue, one single problem or one single opportunity that we can take alone. We need cooperation and we need partnership to face all the threats we are facing in these difficult times. We need to work more together, we need to work more closely together. We need to work together on a basis of equal partnership, full ownership of the processes we have, and, as José Manuel  [García-Margallo y Marfil] was saying, with a full sense of our political relation. There is nothing ordinary, there is nothing bureaucratic about this partnership, we need to put a lot of political investment in working together. The issues we have on the table are many. José Manuel [García-Margallo y Marfil] mentioned at length and rightly so the issue of security and our cooperation on counter terrorism. We have decided already on the European Union side during the last months to strengthen our cooperation on counter terrorism and security with our partners of the region. Let me mention one other issue that is dramatically important today, but not only today, also in the last months and years. Today, we have again the news of other nine people that died close to the coasts of Italy. And the numbers that were given today by the UNHCR were of more than 500 people dying last 4 months. And the official numbers of the people rescued at sea over the weekend by, in this case, the Italian authorities, were 5600 people. And this tells us of an emergency that we have to tackle together for the sake of saving lives. And this is not only or purely a European Union issue because as we are facing these dramatic circumstances, countries like Jordan are hosting millions of refugees, and Jordan is not the only case. A country like Tunisia is facing the difficult situation of having borders with Lybia, Egypt has the same, even longer border with Libya, a country that is crossing a very difficult situation at the moment. I spoke just this morning with Bernardino Leon who is having a new meeting during the next days for trying to get a solution to the Libyan crisis. Let me say that these dramatic issues are on our common agenda. 
To go back on migration for one second, because this a press conference you might be interested in news. Let me say that we had for the first time migration as an issue for the Foreign Affairs Council just last month after more than 10 years. And I am going to speak with the Commissioner Avramopoulos this afternoon as soon as we finish our meeting, for coordinating a series of visits he will do in the region. And we have commonly decided to put migration as an issue of a common, a joint meeting of Foreign and Interior Ministers in one of the coming months so that we can tackle the internal and the external ways in which the European Union can, together with the countries of origin and of transit, face the issue of saving lives first of all. 
But issues we have on the agenda for our cooperation are many and important ones for both, the European Union and the partners in the region. And I would say that we will never underline enough the importance of economic cooperation, job creation, opportunities for the young people of the region, education, exchanges, trade, investments, energy. It is not a zero-sum game, we can develop win-win situations on all these fields, on all these issues. And that is why it is so important that our cooperation gets strengthened and gets on a new phase with different tools. 
Today, the main chore of our discussions, of our shared views was about what kind of tools we can have, we can develop in order to make our cooperation more effective, more timely, and what kind of instruments we can develop to make sure that we together can face the challenges we have in front of us. And I would say that our level of understanding we need to develop in the coming months is very high, and it is not a surprise for me because we live in circumstances that are very different, our background is very different, not only between us but within us. European Union is made of diversity as well as the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean, but we have a lot in common. 
So what we need now is to follow up our good, excellent work of today for which I would like to thank all the Ministers that participated and starting from the Foreign Minister of Jordan with whom I had the pleasure and the honour to co-chair the Union for the Mediterranean, that is hosting us in this beautiful building. And we need to work on the review of our neighbourhood policy to make sure that the tools and instruments that we have are effective and fully operational, because if we don't take care of our own region nobody else will do. And we have not only an interest but we have a collective responsibility in making sure that we do this. The review of our policy starts in this way, with this meeting today actually. We will consult also more broadly, we will have a consultation process until the end of June and reviewed policy will be hopefully ready for the Autumn. What is important for us is that there is full ownership of this process by all actors involved because these are going to be the tools, the instruments that we are going to use together. So we have to be all confident on the fact that we are providing ourselves the best possible instruments to be ready to act for the benefits of our own people. Let me close here.

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