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"The state of the world today is a state of chaos, a confused proliferation of crises, where conflictuality and confrontation seem to prevail over rationality. And where patient, difficult, sometimes frustrating but vital work of building a common ground among players that have different views and different interests, seems to be an exercise of naïveté – in these confused, chaotic times.
"And yet, it is exactly when things do not go well, that rationality, calm, predictability, respect, dialogue are most needed to avoid the worst case scenarios; to prevent conflicts to spiral out of control; to contain tensions; to preserve what is still working and delivering – as we are determined to do with the Iran Nuclear Deal," insisted EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at an address in Florence on 11 May.
The High Representative's speech on the State of the Union at the European University Institute came in the wake of the US declaration of withdrawal from the deal that ensures Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, a deal the EU was instrumental in securing.
"It seems that screaming, shouting, insulting and bullying, systematically destroying and dismantling everything that is already in place, is the mood of our times. While the secret of change – and we need change - is to put all energies not in destroying the old, but rather in building the new.
"I have the impression that this impulse to destroy is not leading us anywhere good. It is not solving even one of the problems we need to face, and they are many. On the contrary, it is adding conflictuality to conflictuality.
"What leads to solutions is the patient, respectful, rational, humble art of compromise, of building win-win solutions, where everybody's interests can find their own place; where you know that if something is good for your counterpart, it must not necessarily be bad for you," said Mogherini.
The EU's own history was built on this understanding, said the High Representative, and to change the global approch from one of confrontation to cooperation requires a strong, confident European Union.
"No other global player can work for this change of mentality. The European Union is today the point of reference for all those that are investing in peace, multilateralism, free and fair trade, sustainable development, fight against climate change, human rights and democracy, social economy – in a rules based global order."
To live up to this challenge, Europeans need to invest in our Union, said Mogherini. EU leaders committed last year to relaunch the Union. "And in this last year, the State of our Union has grown stronger - much stronger," said Mogherini, noting improvements from the strengh of the economy to our capacity to act together to manage with our external action the migratory flows, to cooperation on security and defence.
Thanks to strong political will, in 2017 "we took the most significant step ever to build the European Defence after sixty ýears of failures," the High Representative pointed out, noting the establishment of a single command centre for military training missions, the launch of a European Defence Fund, the substantial budgetary provisions for security and defence in the EU's next long-term budget, and the lauch of permament structured cooperation in defence between - to date - 25 Member States.
The example of the work on defence demonstrates that "with strong political will, with determination, with a certain stubbornness and a visionary approach and with, most of all, hard, patient and collective work, it is possible to make full and good use of our European Union. It is the demonstration that we can aim high, dream big and deliver beyond expectations," said Mogherini.
"The state of our Union has become stronger in these last two years. And yet, it is challenged. Probably today more than ever before. I believe it is important that we and every single European citizen realise what we risk to lose and, on the other side, what we can achieve and the distance between what we risk and what we can. There is a very beautiful song that says “You only miss the sun when it starts to snow” – I am afraid we are getting to that point," the High Representative concluded.