Let me highlight the fact that this is a very important and positive day for the relations between the European Union and Argentina. This is the first presidential visit to Brussels in almost twenty years from the Argentinian side and this is not coming by chance. This is the result of seven months of dedication and energy that President Macri and all his administration have put in renewing, on a completely new ground, relations with a series of international partners starting from the European Union. I was myself visiting Buenos Aires in March, and hosting then Foreign Minister Malcorra here in Brussels a few months ago.
Since then, we worked very hard, us and our teams, on certain fields of concrete cooperation between the European Union and Argentina. Today our meeting was focused mainly on – already- the first results of this strengthened cooperation and on defining the way forward for the future months to come.
On the European Union's side, I was accompanied by two Vice-Presidents of the European Commission; Vice-President Sefcovic and Vice-President Dombrovskis. With them we tackled issues related to energy on one side and macro-economic cooperation on the other. Also on the EU side were present Commissioner Malmstrom for trade, Commissioner Mimica - who just signed an important international cooperation agreement with the Argentinian side- and Commissioner Bienkowska, dealing with business and investment. The Vice-President of the European Investment Bank Mr Escolano was also in the meeting and we tackled with him the intention of the European Investment Bank to restart full activities in Argentina. That was, I believe, a very important deliverable already for this visit.
I would like to highlight three levels where the concrete cooperation between Argentina and the European Union have re-started on a completely new ground in these six, seven months.
First of all, on the global level, the EU and Argentina are cooperating very closely also with a look at the up-coming Argentinian presidency of the G20 in 2018 – something I would like to congratulate the Argentinian diplomacy for having achieved this important result.
On global level, we work well together on migration. We welcome the role that Argentina is playing and will continue to play on sharing the responsibility at the global level on hosting refugees. Argentina has a history of welcoming migrants and it is honouring its traditions and history in the best possible way.
So this is a field in which we are also ready to accompany Argentina - should there be a need- in its capacity to welcome in particular Syrian refugees, which is something that the Argentinian side is considering.
The second level of cooperation at global level are peace missions. Argentina is a very active player in UN peace missions. We will explore also possibilities for Argentina to participate in EU crisis management (CSDP) missions. Finally, as I said, on the global level, but just as examples, we just signed a very important Memorandum of Understanding that will allow us to cooperate together in third countries when it comes to international cooperation.
Second, on the regional level: Argentina has been a key player showing a lot of leadership. President Macri’s leadership was critical in moving forward relations between the European Union and Mercosur. We managed to re-launch negotiations on EU-Mercosur Agreement last month. These negotiations were blocked for ten years and it is thanks to our full commitment on both sides that we managed to have an exchange of market access offer in May. Our negotiators met recently and we have agreed to hold the first round of negotiations already in October. We know very well that this is only an initial step. We will have to continue working very hard on this.
Last but not least at all, the third level of practical cooperation is at bilateral level between the European Union and Argentina. As I said, in the fields of energy, of business, of trade, of investment but also on climate change, on urban and regional development or on security of citizens or counter narco-trafficking and the list could be long.
We decided to concretely cooperate for the benefit of our people. We will deepen also our cooperation on energy efficiency and we will continue to work with this double approach: sharing a culture, sharing a friendship, sharing ties between us is the natural basis for our strong partnership and at the same time, focusing on the concrete deliverables, the concrete actions that we need to bring together in different fields of cooperation where actually our cooperation on foreign and security issues is only one part - even though it is a very important part.
I stop here and leave the floor to my good friend Susana [Malcorra]. I also wish to thank her because she has been behind so much of the work that has been done on these months.