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

EU monitor
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
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Source: European External Action Service (EEAS) i, published on Thursday, June 14 2018.

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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.

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