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The European Union (EU) has 118 Delegations in third countries and five Delegations to international organisations based in Geneva, New York, Paris, Rome and Vienna.
The Delegation of the EU in Rome is working on the basis of a triple mandate:
1. with the United Nations (UN) system, since 1991, under specific actions and partnerships developed with the three UN specialised agencies based in Rome: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD);
2. with the Holy See, since June 2006;
3. with the Order of Malta, after the accreditation of the Head of Delegation in June 2007.
The Delegation of the EU in Rome works essentially in the multilateral framework ensuring, since 1993, the liaison between the Headquarters in Brussels, the 28 EU countries and the three UN Organizations based in Rome.
Rome is considered as the UN capital for activities in the fields of food and agriculture and has hosted since 1948, the FAO, since 1963 the WFP and since 1976 the IFAD.
The three UN Organizations are complementary and share a common goal to which Member Nations pledged themselves at the first FAO World Food Summit of 1996: the eradication of hunger in the world. This goal was reiterated with the Millennium Declaration in 2000 and with the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security in 2009, which puts specific emphasis on fighting global hunger and poverty, which is also one of the cornerstones of the EU development policy.
The Delegation’s mandate covers the following main tasks:
Representation of the EU in the main bodies of the three UN agencies present in Rome, according to the specific status in each of them.
Consolidation of the European Community's positions in Rome, in order to reinforce the EU presence and visibility through regular meetings of the governing bodies, formal or informal donors' consultations, expert meetings, and presentations in both the FAO and WFP, and to give appropriate feedback to the HQs.
Coordination with the EU countries, both in Brussels, mainly within the so-called AGRI-FAO Council Working Group, and also within the Council Working Groups on Food Aid, Humanitarian Aid (HAC), CONUN* and External Fisheries Policy. The EU and the 27 EU Permanent Representatives to FAO, WFP and IFAD meet regularly (at least once a month) in Rome for EU coordination purposes.
The year 2006 was marked by an addition to the EU Delegation's initial mandate (up to 2006 limited to only the UN system in Rome), with the accreditation of the first Head of Delegation, Mr Luis Ritto, as Ambassador to the Holy See on 24 June 2006.
On 1 January 2012, Mrs Laurence Argimon-Pistre was appointed as new Head of the EU Delegation to the Holy See, to the Order of Malta and to the UN Organizations in Rome and officially presented her Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 6 February 2012.
The main objective of this accreditation is to ensure the representation of the EU to the Holy See and to promote and defend the values and interests of the EU in the Vatican.
Subjects of regular discussion with the Vatican include human rights, peace and democracy, freedom of religion in the world, and the dialogue of cultures and religions. Also of importance are matters related to development and the fight against poverty and hunger in the world.
One year exactly after the accreditation to the Holy See, Mr Luis Ritto was also accredited as Ambassador to the Order of Malta, on 12 June 2007.
On 1 January 2012, Mrs Laurence Argimon-Pistre was appointed as new Head of the EU Delegation to the Holy See, to the Order of Malta and to the UN Organizations in Rome and officially presented her Credentials to the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra Matthew Festing, on 9 February 2012.
Through this third mandate with a religious Order heavily involved in humanitarian assistance, the EU consolidates its links with a very valuable partner in the fields of emergency relief, medical care, fight against poverty and famine, and special assistance to people affected by conflicts.
*CONUN: is the Council working group for the UN. It monitors UN activities, prepares the Council members and provides them with background documents.
Ambassador, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Holy See, to the Order of Malta, to the United Nations Organisations in Rome and to the Republic of San Marino
The Delegation of the European Union to the Holy See, to the Sovereign Order of Malta, to the UN Agencies in Rome and to the Republic of San Marino carries out various tasks. The nature of the work of states and institutions of our accreditation touches on big international and global issues.
Today, more than ever before, the global aspects of the Holy See's policies are known and followed by many. The increased outreach carried out by the Pope, especially by Pope Francis, has contributed to reaching out to also the general public and not only religious followers. The voice of the Pontiff who addresses the universal question of peace, freedom, dignity of human being, fundamental rights and values triggers the activity of the diplomacy of the Holy See. It reaches billions of people around the world, not exclusively Catholics or Christians. All efforts of the Pope to pave the way for the unity of Christians impact directly on peace perspectives in the world, as well as on the situation within the European continent. The oecumenical dialogue has significant importance for European countries and nations and the interreligious contacts aim at inter alia easing tensions exploited by extremists and radicals.
All these issues are of utmost interest to the European Union and the dialogue aiming at the common action and search for synergies with the Holy See is a part of the Global Strategy of the EU. The Delegation is the first rang interlocutor for the Holy See and for partners who gather behind the Pope and assist His action.
The Delegation's role as the EU Mission to the Sovereign Order of Malta follows the logic of the global outreach and responsibility too. The assistance to victims of natural catastrophes, in Europe and on all other continents, protection of the cultural heritage under the threat of destruction, assistance to elderly or handicapped people, together with the formation of volunteers able to prevent the cases of exclusion or marginalisation of members of societies. In all these aspects the European Union sees the Order of Malta as a trustful and reliable partner who operates with the European funds and brings relief to the most vulnerable and affected people.
Within the so called 3 Rome Based UN Agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Delegation is charged with the representation of European Union’s policies regarding inter alia development, agriculture, food security, rural development, gender, health, food safety, environment, maritime policies and humanitarian assistance. It works in close collaboration with EU Member States to enhance EU positions in these three organisations. The EU together with it 28 Member States, being the biggest donor in development and humanitarian assistance, is bound by the principle of accountability and proper use of the European budget. The Delegation's participation in the work of the Rome-based Agencies belongs to the tool of instruments at the disposal of the EU to implement its common objectives in the fields of action of these Organisations : achieving Zero Hunger, eradication of malnutrition, addressing the causes and consequences of climate change, tackling vulnerability and exclusion, supporting access to the results of research in the field of agriculture and nutrition, providing humanitarian assistance, confronting the root causes of migrations, etc.
With the Republic of San Marino the European Union negotiates the Association Agreement. It will help both, San Marino to access different tools of European policy and funding, and the European Union to enlarge the use of its regulatory framework. Here again the Delegation is pivotal in ensuring the smooth exchange of views and facilitating rapid conclusion of the Agreement.
Since my posting in Rome in September 2016 as the Head of the EU Delegation, I cover the various accreditations and therefore a variety of issues. In my work I am well assisted by the dedicated, albeit small, team of colleagues in Rome, as well by those who are our partners at Headquarters' in Brussels. I began my mission with the strong feeling that in the current turbulent times, the European Union has even more than before the obligation to use its weight in the interest of global peace and protection of people affected by crises and uncertainties, as well as to very responsible use our earth with its resources.