INTERVIEW to Antonio Tajani: In the Panama Canal crisis, “Europeans speak with a unique voice. That’s already a message.”

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The Corner: Why is the EC intervening here?

Tajani: The three European affected firms sent me three different emails on Sunday afternoon to ask for my help. It was a message of trust and I appreciated it. I’m happy because that means a message of trust in the EU. Foreign Ministers from Spain and Italy, Margallo and Bonino both explained to me on Monday what steps they have taken so far and they are glad the EC is taking action.


TC: How many members of your staff are working on this?

T: Me and my chief of cabinet.


TC: Do you think we will see a solution to this issue?

T: The first impression is that the subject is more difficult than I expected. I already knew it was going to be hard, I was aware of that, but the first impression is the issue is way complicated. It is important to work quietly without holding many press conferences. I don’t find talking particulary useful. Today there are no secrets, but they will come up. What I am doing is studying so much, indeed.


TC: But you haven’t seen any reaction from Panamanian authorities…                   

-I am willing to contact the Panama Government. I think it can be useful to hold a meeting to address those mutual interest issues, regardless of the specific resolution of this divergence between the parties, in accordance with the contract and the laws of Panama.


TC: Do you mean the European Commission is ready to relate this issue to the EU-Panama bilateral issues?                 

T: It is very important for us to strengthen our relations with Panama. It is important for Europe to talk with Central American and Latin American countries. Europe works in Panama and it does work well. For that reason it is crucial for us to develop a cooperation relationship with Panama. But the Canal problem is a financial, economic one.


TC: So far, the European Investment Bank has already contributed with 500 million to finance the project. A representative of that institution recently met with you. Is financing through the EIB the way to find a solution?

T: We’ll see. The solution is within the contract’s framework. The three companies have already done 70% of the work.


TC: Is this a European issue?

T: There is not only a Spanish company but three European firms involved here: the Spanish Sacyr, the Italian Impregilo and the Belgian Jan de Nul. There should be a unique voice. Europeans speak with a unique voice. That’s already a message.

About the Author

Jacobo de Regoyos
Jacobo de Regoyos has been reporting from Brussels for the last 16 years. After writing for Spanish newspaper El Mundo and Tele 5, he is currently the correspondent for Onda Cero Radio. He holds a degree in Journalism by San Pablo CEU University and in 2001 he won the prestigious Salvador de Madariaga award, granted to the best reporting in Europe. He is also author of 'Belgistán, el laboratorio nacionalista' (Belgistan, the nationalism lab), about the evolution of nationalism in the EU.

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