Monaco. During his 48-hour trip to Belgium in February, Prince Albert II met Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Sovereign Lof Monaco left with strong prospects for the Principality`s accession to the European Union. Prince Albert II praised « the progress made in negotiations » with the European Union. In the late morning of Tuesday 19 February, Prince Albert travelled to Berlaymont to meet Jean-Claude Juncker and his collaborators in the presence of Sophie Thévenoux, HE Ambassador, Head of Monaco`s Mission to the European Union, Gilles Tonelli, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Anne-Marie Boisbouvier, HSH`s Adviser in the Cabinet of Princes. Sovereign Prince and President Juncker discussed progress in negotiations that began in March 2015 on the Association Agreement between the Principality and the European Union, which would provide Monaco with a stable institutional framework for relations with the European institutions and member states. It would also open up opportunities for cooperation in the field of education, research and other common areas. On this occasion, Chief S.S.H. recalled the extreme importance he recognises in signing a balanced association agreement, which respects the fundamental principles of the European Union while preserving Monaco`s vital interests and thus guaranteeing the long-term legitimacy of the Principality. Sovereign Prince and President Juncker expressed satisfaction with the progress of these negotiations. President Juncker stressed that the EU had set a target for the EU to start negotiations on the agreement by June 2019, including specific provisions taking into account Monaco`s specifics. This ambition is a strong political signal for the respect of Monaco`s identity.
If such an agreement were to be concluded in June, it would be a decisive step towards the development of a final association agreement. Later in the day, at a reception at the Monegasque Embassy in Belgium, the prince also met with members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and key figures from the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. In his speech, the Sovereign Prince said: « I want to believe that together we will succeed in developing an association agreement that respects the interests of all parties. I very much hope that, given the specificities of Monaco, the foundations of an association with the European Union, whose slogan is `united in diversity`. H.H. the Prince spoke at the opening ceremony, where other speakers were Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister, Marie-Christine Marghem, Minister of the Belgian Federal Institute of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, and Philippe de Backer, Minister of Digital Strategy, Postal Services and Telecommunications, responsible for administrative simplification. , social fraud, privacy and the North Sea.