In 2001, Dick Benschop, former secretary of state for European Affairs (1998-2002) introduced Javier Solana at the 9th Europe Lecture. The theme of this lecture was 'Enlargement of the European Union'.
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Political talent, who was junior minister for European Affairs from 1998 to 2002. Confidant and advisor to prime-minister Kok, whom he had worked for earlier. Prior to his appointment he was the director of the party-bureau for the social democrats (PvdA) and later became member of the Commissariat of the Media. He was involved in several election campaigns during those years. Though part of the ‘inner circle’ of Dutch politics, he had a low public profile.
After his tenure as junior minister he briefly became member of the House of Representatives before starting a career at Royal Dutch Shell. He is president-director of Shell Nederland since May 1st 2011.
"Javier Solana is the answer to an existential question for the European Union: what is the foreign policy performance of the European Union? This question has been asked for a long time, inside and outside the European Union.
Inside, because people expect – and rightly so – an effective common foreign policy. It looks so obvious. What do we need the European Union for? For those tasks which a single state cannot effectively fulfil anymore. This logic also asked for a common foreign policy.
In practice, that has not been that obvious. National reflexes, a narrow definition of the national interest, have for a long time stood in the way of a common foreign policy.
The same question has been asked by non-European partners as well. Where is Europe? What can you, the Union, contribute to our problem? Does Europe really speak with one voice? Who can we call?"