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Strasbourg, 13 December 2016
Thank you, Mr President, but first of all, Elmar, thank you for this report but also thank you for all the work we have done in these two years. Thank you for the wisdom, the competence, the passion you put into everything you do and also into this excellent report.
Thank you also for this debate, the third Article 36 debate we have this year, and as you know we are supposed to have at least two Article 36 debates per year and we went further – this I believe is proof of the fact that we need to work more together on this, but also the intensity and the quality of our cooperation in this field.
So thank you also for that, and thank you because your report follows not just the structure of the global strategy but also the spirit of the strategy.
This report’s message on the European Union as, I quote, ‘the largest economic power, the most generous donor of humanitarian and development assistance, and the front-runner in global multilateral diplomacy’, is exactly what we need in these times. To be a little bit more self-confident or at least aware of the instruments we have.
The report describes a European Union that is a superpower, a diplomatic superpower, but I’m glad that we are finally starting to realise our potential and our strength.
It is so important that European institutions pass coherent messages in these complicated times, because we all see the challenges, we all see the threats, we also see the limits, but we must never forget our strengths. We must never forget that as a true Union we are a global player and our unity holds the key to the security of our citizens, as you just said, and also of our partners. And since I’ve presented the global strategy on foreign and security policy, our work for a stronger Union has moved on very concretely and very fast.
So today I would like to update you on our main actions starting with those on security and defence that I will present on Thursday, two days from now, to the European Council, to our Heads of State and Government.
When I presented this strategy I said that the implementation would have to begin in a matter of weeks and not in a matter of years, and by the end of this week exactly this package on security and defence will be presented. I will present it to the European Council to give its endorsement to it but also its orientations on this defence package.
It is a package based on three main ideas and three main documents. First idea and documents. Our Union can be made more secure through our external action, and this is the sense of the global strategy and its implementation plan on security and defence, that was already endorsed by the Foreign and Defence Ministers in November.
Second, we need a stronger defence industry and to achieve this goal with the European Commission we have put forward a European defence action plan.
Third, we need stronger cooperation with our partners and with this in mind the European Union has signed an unprecedented joint declaration with NATO.
This package includes a number of concrete actions to make our defence spending more efficient and effective, to improve our rapid response to crises, for the joint planning and conduct of our missions, and for Member States to explore the possibility of a permanent structured cooperation on defence matters.
We need to address our citizens’ needs, not with endless ideological debates but with concrete decisions, so we are moving fast and with concrete steps towards a real European Union of security and defence.
But implementation of the global strategy is not simply about defence. Greater integration on security cannot be and should not be a substitute for greater integration in other fields. I want to be very clear on this. We need much more in different fields of our policies for what relates my institutional competences, the second strand of implementation of the global strategy relates to the resilience of states and societies in our region and to an integrated approach to conflicts and crises.
We are working now on a set of targeted actions to address the whole cycle of conflict and crisis, and on a joint communication on resilience to be presented by next spring. In the meantime, the strategy is already impacting on our new policy proposals: we have just discussed now the link between human rights and resilience, and how we are putting human rights at the centre of all our foreign policies.
Moreover, last month we presented our proposal for a new consensus on development which is 100% consistent with the approach of the strategy: for the first time ever, all European institutions can agree on a shared development policy, one common policy on development for the Parliament, the Commission, the Council and each and every national government.
If we finally manage to make full use of our different European and national instruments and at the same time to act as one single force, then our potential truly has no parallel in the world.
Implementation of the strategy also includes the revision of our sectoral and geographical strategies and a renewed and joint attention on public diplomacy. But let me just focus on two other strands of implementation before I conclude.
One is the link between our internal and external policies, starting from migration. Our external work on migration, in particular with the migration compacts, but not only, is proceeding along these lines and I will present the second progress report on the five migration compacts at the European Council on Thursday.
Last but not least, the work on global governance. It is extremely important and I know I can count on this Chamber to work hand-in-hand on this. Just yesterday my friend António Guterres was sworn in as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations. Our cooperation with Ban Ki-moon already has been really impressive and I would like to thank him for this.
On all the current crises, from Syria to Libya, to the work we are doing in these very minutes and hours on Aleppo, trying to guarantee the protection of civilians, all the current crises, all the work we do and also on all the global issues from sustainable development to climate change, the European Union and the United Nations are natural partners and we are working together on a daily basis.
António’s mandate will provide us with an even greater opportunity to strengthen and reform the system of global governance. We are entering a phase of change for the United Nations, this is an opportunity for our European Union to be more and more present inside the UN system with a more effective coordination among Member States, and I think I can count on this Chamber to support this approach as well.
The last few years, despite all the crises and all the difficulties inside the United Nations, we have also managed to show the incredible potential of a more cooperative global governance, from the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme to the Quartet report on the Middle East, from the Paris Agreement on climate change to the sustainable development goals, the international community has delivered on many of the challenges it has faced.
The European Union has the duty and the interest to keep a reformed United Nations at the core of the international system, and I know on this we can work together with this Parliament.
So let me also thank you, Elmar, for your constant leadership, for your constant wisdom, for your constant passion in the work you have done as the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I know this is your last CFSP report as the AFET chair, but I count personally on your commitment to a stronger European Union, to continue to support the work we are doing to make the European Union our Union, a stronger actor as a force for multilateralism, for peace, for cooperation as a principled and responsible superpower.