European Union External Action

Remarks by HR/VP Mogherini at the press conference on Neighbourhood and the world

Bruxelles, 14/06/2018 - 15:36, UNIQUE ID: 180614_11
Remarks

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the joint press conference on Neighbourhood and the world

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Thank you.

First of all, it is true, indeed, I think it is the first time that we are on the podium together. And this reflects the work that we have done together in these months as a family of Commissioners responsible for the external action of the European Union. This in itself is an innovation. We have worked from the very beginning as one family within the Commission and I would like to thank not only my friends and colleagues here on the podium with me - the Commissioners [Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations; Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development; Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management] - but also Commissioner [for EU Budget, Günther] Oettinger and President [of the European Commission, Jean-Claude] Juncker for the support they have given to our coordinated work crossing all the different fields.

The proposal that we present today, is a proposal on which we have worked together. I stress this again, because when we started our mandate we were requested to have a strong coordination of all the different strands of action, covering humanitarian aid, development and neighbourhood and enlargement. I think we have managed to do that very successfully and this proposal is the result of a common work.

The proposal we present today is, first of all, almost a political statement: the recognition that the world and our citizens need and demand a stronger European Union in the field of global affairs and in our region. In the world of today there is a growing demand for a strong, reliable, predictable, and active European Union at a global level. This is why we propose a budget for external action today of €123 billion for the next 7-year period and that is an increase of more than 30% compared to the current period.

This is a recognition of a need that we see for the EU to have more instruments to fulfil its global role, but it is also, I think, a recognition of the work done in these years. The common work at European level on external action brings results that no Single Member State alone can achieve in the global world, be it on security, be it on crisis management, be it on humanitarian aid, be it on development, be it on migration and climate change, be it on trade. The world is such that you need to use the critical mass that the European Union provides to all European citizens.  And to be able to be effective on the global scene, we need not only the policies, but also the money to sustain the policies we put in place.

This proposal is innovative. We are coming up with a more integrated, more coherent approach – architecture that, as I said, was agreed among ourselves. This in itself has been an innovative process. You have not had the single Commissioners negotiating their single portfolios, but we have done it in a coordinated manner, as it should be.  We are proposing a major simplification of our budget on the external action, merging all our main foreign policy instruments into one. The situation today is very fragmented, we have many different instruments under our responsibility.

We now propose a new instrument that will cover pretty much the whole world – it is called the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). It will be comprehensive in geographic and thematic terms. A few exceptions are, obviously, the candidate and potential candidate countries for membership to the European Union and the overseas countries and territories, but also humanitarian aid and, for legal reasons, nuclear safety.

I will leave to the Commissioners to go more in detail on their respective fields of responsibility, but I would like to stress the fact that the single instrument approach will give us more coherence and more focus on policies. It will, I think, eliminate artificial bureaucratic barriers that now are there. If you think of any region - I take North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, or I think of the Gulf and the Middle East - you have a division in our instruments currently that does not reflect the reality of the work we need to do. So having one instrument will allow us to overcome artificial barriers that we have had so far and will help us focus on political objectives and on results, being more flexible and more coherent.

It does not mean having less targeted policies towards certain regions or certain countries. On the contrary, we are proposing to increase the allocation of resources where our political priorities are and in particular our Neighbourhood, our region, Africa, the Western Balkans, climate change, migration, humanitarian aid and human rights and democracy. So the clear political priorities are defined and the allocation of money is reflecting these political priorities.

We also remain very firm on our development commitment, putting more money on it and ring-fencing this money so that we can re-use – well, our successors will be able to re-use – unspent funds on a multi-annual basis, so that long-term priorities cannot and will not be sacrificed to short-term pressures.

Last but not least, we put forward a proposal that increases transparency and democratic scrutiny. We propose to integrate the European Development Fund into the budget, so that all our development aid will finally be subject to the budgetary control of the European Parliament and the Parliament will also be involved at crucial stages of the process both in implementation and monitoring.

I will stop here and let the other Commissioners integrate these comments with their respective angles of work and responsibilities, thanking them again for the excellent cooperation we have had not only in this, but also on this, which I have always been told it is the most difficult exercise you can do.

 

 

Q&A

 

Q: Plus politiquement, partagez-vous les inquiétudes de votre compatriote Mr Tajani sur le fait que les migrations mettent en jeu la survie-même de l'Union européenne? Vous avez réussi le tour de force de réunir en un seul fond plusieurs instruments, est-ce que la deuxième étape ne serait pas de réunir en un seul commissaire les quatre qui sont aujourd'hui autour de la table?

No, non proporrei di unificare le figure dei commissari sotto una, anzi abbiamo una quantità di lavoro enorme, che copriamo in modo, io credo, molto efficace con un buon coordinamento tra di noi. E credo che anche questo buon coordinamento sulla proposta di bilancio possa essere una buona "legacy", un buon modello per la Commissione che verrà.

Sull'immigrazione, credo che sia una sfida enorme per l'Unione Europea. Io ricordo che quando ho iniziato il mandato, sono rimasta stupita nel vedere che non c'era del lavoro sulla dimensione esterna della migrazione e insieme abbiamo fatto un lavoro enorme con i commissari, con il resto della Commissione [Europea], ma anche con il Consiglio [Europeo], per sviluppare un'azione esterna dell'Unione Europea sui temi migratori, che tre anni e mezzo fa, quattro anni fa, non esisteva. L'abbiamo fatto combattendo contro una mancanza di strumenti e una mancanza di risorse, ed è per questo che oggi il bilancio che proponiamo per i prossimi sette anni dell'Unione Europea triplica le risorse, sia sul versante esterno che sul versante interno, perché l'Unione Europea abbia gli strumenti finanziari per far fronte alle sfide migratorie. In particolare sul versante esterno, proponiamo che il 10% dello Strumento sul Vicinato, lo Sviluppo e la Cooperazione Internazionale – il nostro strumento finanziario che proponiamo – sia dedicato a gestire le questioni migratorie, il che significa 8,9 miliardi di euro per il prossimo periodo di bilancio. In più, rispetto a questo, come diceva il Commissario [per l'Allargamento e la Politica di Vicinato Johannes] Hahn, abbiamo introdotto nella nostra proposta una riserva di 10,2 miliardi di euro per far fronte ad emergenze, che chiaramente possono anche essere emergenze relative ai flussi migratori, perché non vogliamo che la prossima Commissione si trovi nella situazione in cui noi ci siamo trovati, di far fronte ad una sfida migratoria importante, che io da italiana posso dire poteva essere prevista dalla Commissione precedente e non è stata prevista, senza avere gli strumenti finanziari e neanche gli strumenti finanziari per farlo. Ce li siamo inventati in qualche modo. Credo che abbiamo ottenuto in questi ultimi due anni in particolare sul fronte esterno della nostra cooperazione con i paesi terzi risultati nuovi, importanti, non ancora sufficienti, che vanno consolidati, che richiedono tre cose. Primo, solidarietà interna: non è competenza istituzionale nostra, ma è la chiara posizione della Commissione Europea, riguarda gli Stati Membri. Secondo, una cooperazione con gli Stati di origine e di transito, in particolare nell'Africa, ma anche nel Medio Oriente e più in là, pensiamo all'Afghanistan, o al Pakistan. E terzo, le risorse finanziarie per sostenere nel tempo programmi di cooperazione e di gestione nel lungo periodo delle radici, dei motivi per cui i flussi migratori avvengono. Tutto questo, nel frattempo, applicando nel modo più scrupoloso e rispettoso possibile, il principio del diritto internazionale e in particolare con un'attenzione al salvataggio e alla protezione delle vite umane.

 

Q: There was a quite complicated arrangement last year with the Parliament regarding the Instrument for Stability and Peace (IcSP) to make sure that no development money is given to the military, even for civilian purposes. Now given that the IcSP will be integrated into the new broad instrument, how will you make sure that this arrangement is maintained?

Just yesterday, in Strasbourg, in the European Parliament, I presented with other three colleagues – Commissioner [for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta] Bieńkowska, Commissioner [for the Security Union, Julian] King and Vice-President [for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki]  Katainen – our proposals for our security and defence part of the budget. There I presented an innovative instrument that I proposed to set up off-budget, the European Peace Facility, exactly to be able to finance security-related initiatives, including military forces of our partners in areas where this is needed and requested in a more effective manner.

I give you an example – I fully support what Neven [Mimica] was saying: There are clear connections between the security situation on the ground in some areas, between development perspectives, which are, by the way, recognised with the [Sustainable] Development Goals. If you take the Sahel, economic development is made more complicated by the lack of security. And the lack of security is a direct consequence of a lack of economic development. So, it is a vicious circle that needs to be broken at some stage. We are currently using the instrument we have to address these needs – by the way, we will be hosting the five Foreign Ministers of the Sahel countries just on Monday here in Brussels to discuss  this, both the security and the development angles, with them. But with the new proposal we make for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework, for the next budget, we will have more instruments, not only more money, but also more flexibility to support the policies that our partners identify, together with us, as needed.

 

Q: Is it possible to illustrate whether [the Former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia  will start accession negotiations? Does it make a difference in terms of funding that this country could receive? And more politically: I think all political groups have welcomed the agreement between Skopje and Athens except the European People's Party (EPP). Do you not think the EPP have a duty to say something?

We were together, Commissioner [for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes] Hahn and myself, in Strasbourg, when we received the good news of the agreement reached between Prime Minister [of Greece, Alexis] Tsipras and Prime Minister [of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran] Zaev. We released a statement together welcoming this historic step and ensuring that the European Union will continue to support the implementation and the further steps of this agreement, as we have been accompanying and supporting the negotiations from the very beginning in a very active manner, respectful of the bilateral nature of the negotiations under the UN auspices, but always accompanying the negotiations that were involving and are still involving a Member State and a candidate country.

What I have seen in the European Parliament, when I shared the news with the hemicycle has been a standing ovation from all political groups. I believe this reflects the overall feeling of all political families in Europe.

I would not comment here and today on single steps that might be taken or should be taken by one political family or the other, or by institutions on the ground. I think this is not related to the issue that we are discussing today. But I think the political signals that came especially in Strasbourg were very clear in these days: I think these go in the direction of encouraging and supporting  the continuation of the work on the agreement to be implemented fully.  

 

Q: As we are sitting here some NGOs began to comment on the proposal and a few of them had some concerns that the merging of twelve instruments into one, as well as the newer focus on migration, might take away some of the focus on development and fighting poverty.  They are concerned that these issues will essentially become secondary. How do you respond to these concerns?

This is an issue we have discussed among us, with the rest of the College and also with the European Parliament. Yesterday we were together discussing this proposal with the relevant committees in the European Parliament, even before adopting it. One thing is very clear: the political priorities do no follow the instruments. It is rather the other way around. You design the instruments to fulfil your political objectives, your policy objectives. We have in our experience seen that the plurality and fragmentation of instruments we have been dealing with in these years have introduced some artificial barriers in the capacity we had in these years to fulfil our policies.

I give you an example: convening a meeting of young leaders from the Mediterranean region, we were fighting with the fact that young leaders from Iraq or from the Gulf could not be invited following one instrument, because their countries would not belong to a region which is covered by the Neighbourhood Instrument. Is this a real division in terms of reality on the ground or is it not? I give you another example: We work with North African countries and we work with Sahel countries. They share an area that is extremely complicated, in terms of development, climate change, security and migration, but they are covered currently by two different instruments – actually by many different instruments – not all of them overlapping. So creating artificial barriers to what we can do on one side or the other of the same geographical area. The same applies to many other countries that currently fall into different boxes that do not correspond to the reality of today, where cross-regional action is very relevant.

If policies have to cross the barriers, the instruments have to do it as well. This is why we propose the merging to have a more flexible, more simplified  and more efficient instrument in the hands of the next Commission. The policy priorities will never be determined by the existence or not of an instrument. It is the political choices that determine the political priorities. It is not the existence of an instrument. You can have an instrument and the instrument can be emptied. By the way, this is why we are ring-fencing some of the resources to avoid that.  And the political priorities we identified for the next budget period are exactly the ones we have shared with you today: neighbourhood, Western Balkans, Africa, development – including poverty eradication as the main focus – human rights and democracy, climate change and migration.  Some of them are interlinked, but these are the clear priorities that were determined by the political choices that both the Council and the Commission have made and this is the guarantee that these will stay priorities for the future, unless the next Commission or future Councils will decide otherwise, but no instrument can prevent this. It is a matter of political orientation of the decision-makers.

 

Q: L'Italia è preoccupata, perché sembra che manchino all'appello 1.2 miliardi per il Trust Fund per l'Africa, da cui dipendono i progetti per la Libia. Lei ci può dare delle rassicurazioni a questo proposito?

Inoltre, volevo sapere la Sua opinione sul caso Aquarius e sulle accuse che sono state rivolte all'Italia, a seguito di questo caso.

Uno dei motivi per cui proponiamo un aumento del bilancio dell'Unione sulla politica estera è esattamente la necessità di evitare di ricorrere a misure o strumenti straordinari nel caso in cui si debba far fronte ad eventi che non erano stati previsti nel bilancio del periodo precedente. Questo è il caso del Trust Fund [per l'Africa], il Trust Fund [per l'Africa] è stato uno strumento che abbiamo messo in piedi con un grande contributo economico della Commissione [Europea], con un contributo economico significativo di alcuni Stati Membri, con il contributo economico meno significativo di altri Stati Membri, per far fronte alla necessità di finanziare i nostri progetti di cooperazione con i paesi d'origine e di transito in Africa, sia Africa del Nord, sia Africa subsahariana. Questo ci ha consentito di lavorare in questi ultimi due anni con risultati molto importanti sulla gestione dei flussi ed anche un lavoro che non aveva mai avuto luogo, in cooperazione con l'Unione Africana e con le Nazioni Unite, in particolare l'Organizzazione Internazionale per le Migrazioni e l'UNHCR per non soltanto salvare, ma anche accompagnare con dei ritorni volontari i migranti nei centri di detenzione in Libia nei loro paesi d'origine. Se non mi sbaglio, più di 25000 migranti grazie alla nostra azione, sono stati accompagnati con ritorni volontari dai centri in Libia ai loro paesi d'origine negli ultimi sei mesi. Questo non era mai stato fatto ed è stato possibile grazie ai nostri finanziamenti, al nostro lavoro sul campo, sia in Libia che con i paesi d'origine e di transito, anche grazie a questi finanziamenti. C'è oggi un problema di rifinanziamento di questo fondo, un problema che io ho sollevato diverse volte con gli stati membri e sul quale credo che sia necessario attirare l'attenzione in questa fase, perché  - e qui commento anche le vicenda dell'Aquarius – in mare, una volta che la situazione è in mare, la priorità è quella di salvare vite. Ma la vera soluzione è a terra, non è in mare. La soluzione è a terra in Europa, con una solidarietà tra Stati Membri, che deve essere più efficace e aumentata – di nuovo, non è mia competenza istituzionale, ma è mia opinione molto ferma ed è posizione della Commissione – e soprattutto con un lavoro da fare a terra con i paesi d'origine, prima che i migranti arrivino alle coste del Mediterraneo. E questo richiede investimenti.

Sull'Aquarius, la questione della identificazione del porto di sbarco è questione che riguarda una decisione nazionale, sulla quale l'Unione Europea non ha competenze. Però, vorrei specificare il fatto, anche vedendo le notizie relative allo stato del mare in queste ore, è chiara indicazione della legge internazionale che ogni sforzo debba essere fatto per rendere minimo il tempo che queste persone passano a bordo della nave in questione. Quindi spero che la questione si possa risolvere nel modo migliore e più rapido possibile, perché la priorità assoluta, assoluta, deve essere quella della protezione della vite umane.

 

Q: Vorrei sapere cosa pensa dell'idea di creare dei campi profughi in Europa, fuori dall'Unione Europea, che potrebbe essere Albania o Balcani, oppure in Tunisia.

Come ho spiegato, noi abbiamo messo in piedi un sistema che sta funzionando, rispetto alla Libia e credo che possa essere un modello utile, da sostenere e da consolidare, cioè quello di una cooperazione – e sottolineo la parola cooperazione – con le autorità del luogo, le agenzie competenti delle Nazioni Unite e i paesi d'origine. Questo è un modello che sta portando risultati, non credo che ci sia bisogno di inventare nuovi strumenti o nuovi modelli. Bisogna però sì, mettere risorse e politiche e economiche nel consolidare questo meccanismo che sta dando risultati negli ultimi sei mesi, tant'è che infatti gli sbarchi fino a qualche settimana fa si erano quasi azzerati a sostenere questo lavoro che porta risultati. Chiaramente, la portata dei flussi è tale per cui i risultati vanno consolidati nel tempo per essere efficaci sui grandi numeri, ma abbiamo trovato la strada giusta – finalmente, vorrei dire – e credo che questa strada debba essere perseguita.

 

Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I157017

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