An official website of the European Union. See all European Institutions
Check against delivery!
We have today a very intense agenda, even more than usual, because we start with a full morning of a joint meeting of Defence and Foreign Ministers to prepare the European Council that has defence and security on its agenda and also in preparation of the NATO Summit, where we will strengthen and relaunch - even more than what we are doing now - EU-NATO cooperation.
I will be happy to welcome again Secretary General [of NATO, Jens] Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO Summit in Brussels, to look at the implementation of our cooperation measures. But most of all with the Defence and Foreign Ministers this morning we will look at the implementation of the entirety of our package on defence and security, from the Permanent Structured Cooperation projects to the financial instruments we have proposed to put in place to sustain this level of ambition of the European defence.
It is going to be a very dense and intense work that it is a testimony of the collective work that the Member States and all European institutions have been doing in the last year and half and that we will bring to the European Council later this week.
Then we will have with the Foreign Ministers only a session on Yemen, with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen [Martin] Griffiths who will debrief us on his most recent visit in the region and will outline his plan of action for restarting negotiations. And we will look at how the European Union and its Member States can support this work and to face a dramatic humanitarian situation in Yemen. We are doing a lot for humanitarian aid, but today we are focusing also on the way in which we can support the restarting of negotiations on Yemen.
Then we will have a look at other points, the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea - a natural extension, I would say, from a regional perspective of our work on Yemen today - and also the implementation of the Global Strategy with our yearly report.
And I would like to mention in particular one point we will have on Jordan where we would show all our political and financial support to the country. I was there just a few weeks ago and it would be a good opportunity for me to debrief the Ministers on the state of play of our work with Jordan, a key partner in the region for the European Union.
Q. On yesterday's mini-summit on migration: what is the result? Is the EU isolating itself?
The external work on managing migration flows in these last couple of years has been based on partnerships - strong partnerships. First of all with the United Nations - the IOM, the UNHCR - but also with our African partners - the African Union, the countries of origin and transit - and it has proven to be important to bring results. I think that yesterday informally some Member States started to prepare the European Council later this week and that is where I will bring some ideas and proposals for strengthening our work on the external side of our immigration work.
But I think that it is useful if Member States realise that this work on the external side needs resources – and this is what Member States are asked for at this stage - to have adequate resources to invest in development projects and also in partnerships with countries of origin and transit to manage migration flows in a humane and sustainable manner at the same time. And then there is the internal solidarity issue, which is not part of my portfolio, but you know very well what I think about that.
Q: [Can you give a comment] on asylum centers outside of the EU?
I think I have already spoken enough about migration, which is not on the agenda of the Council today.
Q: On the Trust Fund for Africa: Is there any commitment to replenish the lack of money that we have on the window?
We have, as you know very well - on the European Commission side there is a decision to work and to put money in it. It has proven to be useful; it has brought results. This is why we are asking for more money from Member States to the Trust Fund for Africa.
I believe the exchanges yesterday were positive in this direction. I hope that Member States will put money in the Trust Fund for Africa, because this has been the instrument with which we have managed to put in place very important work that has brought results; this needs to be strengthened and for that we require money.
Q: Can you give a comment on whether Turkey can still be considered a candidate country?
You will see a statement from our side on Turkey's elections later today when the results will be official and consolidated [and OSCE/ODIHR report is out]. Any question on the agenda of today? I will come back to you at the end of the morning, so I will debrief you on our work on defence especially with Secretary General [of NATO, Jens] Stoltenberg. Then I will meet you again at the end of the day.
Q: Are there any more reserves for [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia becoming a candidate for the start of negotiations?
You know that the General Affairs Council is tomorrow and not today. It is not for the Foreign Ministers today to discuss this. But let me say this very clearly: you know the recommendation of the Commission is that we recommend, as the Commission, to open negotiations both with Skopje and with Tirana. This process is merit-based - it needs to be merit-based -, which means that when there is progress this must be recognised and encouraged and accompanied.
So I hope that Member States will take the right decision. I hope and expect Member States will take the right decision. Let me say that we see progress in the Balkans that is impressive. I witnessed the signature of the name agreement less than 10 days ago, a historic moment that needs to be supported.
I had yesterday a very good session of the High-Level Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina that is also going in an encouraging manner - very difficult, but encouraging. The Western Balkans need the European Union now to be consistent and deliver. Thank you.