The Eastern Partnership, Bosnia, Southern Neighbourhood (Libya, Egypt, Syria), Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and preparations for the December European Council, will be the main topics of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting that will bring Minister Emma Bonino together with her European colleagues today in Brussels.
EU southern border control mission
With regard to human trafficking in the Mediterranean, Italy will present a proposal for an EU southern border control mission. “I hope that today offers an opportunity to better understand this proposal and that a process is triggered that is able over time to underpin what Italy is doing unilaterally with its Mare Nostrum project, making it clear that controlling the southern border and that, in particular, the battle against human trafficking is a common responsibility”, the minister said as she arrived in Brussels. She also said she hoped that the important results already achieved by the Mare Nostrum operation – with the arrest of numerous traffickers – would be taken into consideration.
Libya, Egypt and Syria
Italy considers the North African crisis as in need of Europe’s continuing commitment in order to foster reconciliation in Libya at this difficult stage; while Egypt is in need of effective coordination of national policies, especially regarding a common approach on the export of weapons materials to that country. On the Syrian crisis, it is Italy’s conviction that there is no alternative to the Geneva II process and a political solution, not least in light of the opposition’s recent progress toward a peace conference.
Concerning the Eastern Partnership, Italy wishes to avoid moving too quickly toward the signing of an EU-Ukraine Association and Free Trade Agreement. Georgia’s recent election of Margvelashvili could result in a change of pace in relations with the separatist regions and with Russia, and will also highlight the need for Europe to pursue dialogue with Moscow.
Defence policy coordination and Member State budgets
After a working lunch, the joint foreign-defence session will take place, during which conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy will be discussed and preparations for the December European Council. Italy is working on launching a gradual coordination of defence and Member State budget policies aimed at spending better and sharing common resources and skills. In that sense, the European Council of 19 and 20 December will offer an opportunity to take politically courageous and farsighted decisions on long term strategies for the development of European security and defence policies.