Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome the Secretary General of NATO in this House. It was, like always, an excellent meeting - our meetings are always excellent, be it by phone or physically – and we decided once again – and that is what we are doing since we last met – to step up our cooperation.
We were discussing, as you can imagine, the refugee crisis and I was repeating what the European Council concluded when the European Council last met: that we are underlining the importance of the NATO operations in the Aegean Sea, and that we are calling on all NATO members to support it.
Jens and I, we are both convinced that the cooperation between NATO and the European Union in the Aegean will lead to a substantial reduction of irregular crossings and allow us to effectively manage the Union's external borders and break smugglers' cruel business models.
This is a decisive year for the European Union and for NATO because the security environment in and around Europe is changing radically. And both NATO and the European Union have to adjust to this situation.
I was briefly presenting the first elements of the Global Strategy on Defence and Foreign Policy the Commission and the External Action Service are working on and we are in close contact when it comes to different points of this.
We were mainly discussing today the hybrid threats our continent is facing. And there too, it is of crucial, vital importance that the two organisations, both NATO and the European Union, are moving in the same direction. And we are working on that in order to allow us to present common views at the NATO summit later this year in July, in Warsaw.
Jens is in fact a lucky man because he has one summit every two years and I have one summit per week. That makes a difference. But I feel encouraged by the meeting and by the exchange of views we had today, because it became obvious that a stronger European Union means a stronger NATO, and a stronger NATO means a stronger European Union. And so we are working hand in hand, mano in mano.