Ambassadors’ Week in Paris - August 24-28, 2015
Statements by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of COP21, during his joint press briefing with Mr Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, and Mr Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Peruvian Minister of the Environment, President of COP20 (excerpts)
Speech by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister (excerpts) (August 26, 2015)
Closing speech by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)
Paris, August 25, 2015
France is preparing to host the Climate Conference, and this has been the focus of your work since Monday. It will be a major event; we are mobilized at the highest levels of government. All government agencies, all public actors and all actors who bear responsibility in this area—and there are many of them—are also mobilizing their efforts.
We have a duty to succeed, because this is a global issue and because France is the country that is hosting this major event. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, under the leadership of Laurent Fabius, is again taking the initiative. Because of its position, its role, its influence, our country has been tasked once again with participating in negotiations that will be critical for the future of the planet.
But the planet isn’t just threatened by global warming: it’s also facing terrorism that hasn’t reached this level of barbarity, this level of severity, for decades.
Our country was itself attacked in January. It reacted calmly and in a united manner. It benefited from exceptional international solidarity following this tragedy, because France represents freedom for the whole world.
We are still exposed, and the attack that took place on Friday on the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris train—which could have deteriorated into terrible carnage without the courage of several passengers, notably the American servicemen whom I honoured yesterday—is further evidence that we must prepare ourselves for other attacks and therefore protect ourselves.
Our security within our borders is at stake first of all. That’s what prompted us to implement Operation Sentinelle, which is mobilizing, in addition to police officers and gendarmes, 7,000 soldiers. That’s why we have increased the number of intelligence agents and modernized our legislation in order to take more effective action while ensuring that freedoms are respected.
This is also necessary in order to tackle foreign fighters and to locate, identify and follow individuals associated with the fundamentalist movement.
Our security outside our borders is also at stake. Daesh [ISIL] poses the greatest danger. The organization controls vast areas in Syria and Iraq and has considerable resources linked to all forms of trafficking, with ramifications across the globe. The organization recruits, indoctrinates and controls individuals, with the aim of killing on a greater scale.
Muslims are the main victims in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Libya, but minorities are systematically persecuted and tortured. That’s why I will open the conference on Eastern Christians and religious and ethnic victims, organized by Laurent Fabius in Paris in a few days.
Daesh is also destroying the heritage of humanity; in Palmyra, the former head of the archeological site was savagely beheaded and on Sunday the Temple of Baalshamin was reduced to a pile of rubble.
The intention is the same: to remove all traces of humanity, to use images, acts of terror and horror to terrorize people, to show that there’s no limit to the barbarity. Again, we need to take action: 10 years after the signing of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, I decided to entrust the President of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, with a mission to protect cultural property in armed conflict.
France will take all necessary action to improve the protection of artefacts and sites as well as to combat the trafficking that sustains the financing of terrorism, because behind the destruction of cultural sites, there is also trade, which means there are buyers, if there are sellers.
In Africa, terrorism takes the name of Boko Haram. Its brutality, its suicide attacks have resulted in numerous deaths: 10,000 since the beginning of the year. Last year 14,000 people were killed, mostly women and children. All countries in the region are affected, especially Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, and we must show them unwavering solidarity because these are friendly countries and because the stability of the whole of West Africa is also at stake.
In a few days, I will host a meeting with Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, and I will confirm to him that France is ready to bring together all actors involved in the fight against Boko Haram, as we did a year ago. This will involve coordinating our services, exchanging information, as well as taking joint action in the region. The Minister of Defence has been sufficiently alerted to this issue and knows what we need to do.
The intervention in Mali demonstrated this. Yes, it is possible, with the help of the African Union, the European countries and the UN, to curb terrorism. In a different format, we will work through Operation Barkhane towards the same objective: to drive back terrorism.
But we are calling, more than ever, on Africans to establish an intervention force as swiftly as possible. We stand ready to support, train, and—along with the European countries—contribute to funding this force.
Similarly, we are aware of what’s at stake in Tunisia. The Arab Spring started there. An exemplary democratic transition is taking place there and this friendly country suffered terrorist attacks in Bardo and Sousse, depriving it of the tourist income essential to its economy.
I therefore called on the European countries to go even further than the Deauville Partnership and to give it a security dimension, because we cannot leave that country alone to face an enemy that is also ours.
The use of force is necessary in the face of terrorism. That’s why I called on our armed forces to address the situation in Mali and to take part in the coalition in Iraq.
The increased threat level, which is not likely to go down any time soon, also prompted us to update our military estimates act, to commit even more resources, including during this period of budgetary constraints. And to ensure that we can provide our armed forces with equipment and human resources over the long term.
Because two conditions must be fulfilled in order to ensure that France always leads the way: we must shoulder our responsibilities when necessary and have the capabilities to do so. We may want to but if we no longer can, what’s the point of political action or public discourse? We must therefore have the means to shoulder our responsibilities.
But at the same, time military involvement will never be enough in itself, because terrorism is fuelled by political chaos. It’s therefore up to our diplomats to find ways to resolve the crises we’re experiencing.
In Syria, the world took a long time to respond. Too long. France had sounded the alarm in the summer of 2012, and in fact, had from the outset declared its support for the opposition. Indeed, I was the first to consider it the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
A year later, we were ready to punish a regime that had beyond the shadow of a doubt used chemical weapons against its own people. The international community’s inaction, after a red line had been deliberately crossed, had a heavy cost. A very heavy cost. Daesh, which did not yet exist in its present form, established itself in Syria, and Bashar al-Assad continued to massacre his people. Sadly, he is still providing a few examples of this.
What should we do? We must lessen the grip of the terrorists without saving Assad, because the two are linked. At the same time, we must seek a political transition in Syria; that is essential. The Security Council recognized this by adopting a statement last week, the first in two years. This is a step in the right direction, and it’s an important step. Russia signed up to it, so dialogue can be instituted. The conditions must be established.
The first is the neutralization of Bashar al-Assad, the second is to offer solid guarantees to all moderate opposition forces, particularly Sunni and Kurdish, and to preserve state structures and Syrian unity. The last condition, which will no doubt be decisive, is to engage all the stakeholders in finding a solution. I’m thinking of the Gulf States. I’m also thinking of Iran. I’m thinking of Turkey, which must be involved in the fight against Daesh, and institute—or rather resume—dialogue with the Kurds.
On this major issue, which has been so important in recent months, I am calling for an increase in general awareness. Terrorism is threatening all the region’s actors, not just a few powers but all of them, and resolving the Syrian crisis requires everyone’s participation. France is ready to play its part.
We will continue, in the meantime, to help the Syrian opposition—the opposition we consider moderate—and to participate in the coalition in Iraq, but work to improve its effectiveness, because there is no question of committing forces, of having a presence there, if we are not sure of the objectives and the means to achieve them.
We will also support the reforms carried out by Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi to strengthen institutions, maintain a state structure and Iraq’s unity, and bring all communities together. In short, to do what was not done a few years ago in Libya, where we are paying a high price for the failure to shore up a state after a necessary armed intervention. Libya is a vast, resource-rich area. Its resources haven’t disappeared; they are being removed for purposes that do not foster the country’s development, to say the least. It is a country that has fallen prey to the utmost disorder, and which is notable for having two governments. That’s at least one too many!
I support efforts by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to bring about the formation of a national unity government that, with the international community’s support, will be capable of isolating extremist groups, securing the territory, controlling population movements, and combating every sort of trafficking.
As far as population movements are concerned, migratory crises have reached a level unmatched since the end of World War II. These migratory movements, these waves of refugees that concern Europe but not only Europe, are the tragic consequences of mounting conflicts. Specifically, these are Syrians and Iraqis who have fled and who initially sought refuge in the countries of the region. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are dealing with the arrival of at least five million refugees. Then you have the devastating situations in Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia that are adding to the volume of migration, itself facilitated by the chaos in Libya. Thus, more than 350,000 illegal entries into the Schengen Area have been reported in recent months. Indeed, it’s very difficult to get accurate figures.
Germany, for its part, has reported 800,000 refugees in one year. This is said to be an exceptional situation, and it is: exceptional in its magnitude, exceptional in its gravity, exceptional in its consequences and exceptional in the tensions that exist. Here in Europe we are once again seeing walls go up, armoured vehicles being mobilized, barbed wire being installed, refugee reception centres being attacked—that’s the situation today, and in all likelihood it will unfortunately continue, given the conflicts that are involved.
Now, some would have us believe that restoring national borders would be a miracle solution. That’s just smoke and mirrors, although it might fool people for a short time. France must act humanely, at the European and international levels, towards those who are fleeing crises and wars, but also firmly, as not all types of migration are alike.
We must respond to humanitarian emergencies, which do exist, organizing the intake of refugees and shouldering our asylum obligations, but we must also repatriate migrants who have been rejected and combat all criminal people-smuggling networks.
Europe took decisions in June, not without difficulty, to make sure that migrants crossing the Mediterranean were rescued. There was a certain degree of success, which led more and more migrants to cross the Mediterranean, and unfortunately gave rise to more and more smugglers, including some who abandoned their boats with refugee families on board, putting their lives in extreme danger.
Today, the disparities in how different countries take in refugees are creating instability in the countries confronted with masses of new arrivals. Those countries, as we know, are Italy and Greece. They are also creating instability in the countries that accept many of these refugees, or which, like France, are dealing with situations at the Schengen borders, as in Calais.
France and Germany are making proposals to ensure Europe provides responses commensurate with the problem we face. The French and German interior ministers have worked together to develop a number of recommendations. Yesterday, I discussed this with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin, and we presented our partners with a number of proposals.
First, we want accelerate the establishment of reception centres in Italy and Greece, whose task—it’s their obligation, incidentally—will be to distinguish between asylum seekers, who must be registered, and migrants who come for other reasons, but who cannot be accepted as such.
Our second proposal is that we must ensure the fair distribution of refugees. There are European countries that currently refuse to take them in.
We must also repatriate with dignity those individuals who entered illegally. This is a precondition in order to have effective rules that also protect refugees and asylum seekers.
Finally, we must have a unified asylum system with a quicker turnaround, harmonized rules and care, and, among Europeans, we must also establish a common list of safe countries, as conditions in some counties do not justify the right to asylum. We must pool our resources to fight people-smuggling networks, and with the Frontex agency we must put European border guards in place.
These proposals, which are both in keeping with our obligations and firm in relation to the risk generated by this situation, must be the subject of a European Council meeting, after which they can be promptly implemented.
The solution also requires an active development policy. That will be on the agenda of a Europe-Africa summit we called for, scheduled for this November in Malta.
France wants to create funds, as proposed by the European Commission: for the Sahel, we are talking about €1 million to bolster the economies of regions affected by migration and enable the young people in those areas to stay in their countries.
Beyond the tensions that migration may generate in each of our countries here in Europe, this issue can pit North against South in a way that could be seriously destabilizing. We must eliminate this risk. We must work on common development, on the training of personnel, on bringing Africa up to standard in terms of energy, on growth and security.
France, which has solid, friendly ties with Africa, must take the initiative in cooperation with its European partners. That is what we are going to propose.
Likewise, France is sparing no efforts for peace. Only a few weeks ago, the big question all diplomats could be asked was whether it would be possible to reach an agreement with Iran to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
That agreement has been reached. And we believe it’s a step forward. France made sure to set the conditions guaranteeing the solidity of the compromise, particularly on two points which, for us, were major: monitoring and verification on the one hand, and the lifting of sanctions on the other, necessarily conditional on Iran fulfilling its obligations.
Is the crisis definitively behind us? We’ll see. We must make sure of this, but it’s clear that, compared with what was regarded as a major threat a few months ago, it’s been averted for the time being. I reaffirm here my full support for the agreement, and my desire for it to be swiftly implemented by all the parties.
A new relationship with Iran is possible; it raises hopes, which mustn’t be transformed into illusions or innocence. The word “innocence” can also be misunderstood. Some people are in a hurry; we ourselves must ensure our bilateral relationship can be resumed, and we must also ask Iran to get involved in resolving the crises devastating the region.
I said this to President Rouhani when I met him for the first time, following his election: in order for an agreement to be possible, Iran must not only renounce nuclear weapons but also be a constructive player in the region, as justified by its place, its history and its culture. That’s the gist of the dialogue I suggested having with President Rouhani.
We’ve established a relationship of great trust with Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as shown by my participation as a guest of honour in the meeting they organized in May. France has also chosen to regard Egypt as a major player in the Middle East.
Its stability is essential; Egypt expects a lot from France. I had fresh confirmation of this during the inauguration of the New Suez Canal.
All these signs of appreciation for our country—coming from very different countries, sometimes opposed to each other—are the result of the policy we’ve been conducting for the past three years. This recognition places on us a responsibility in the Middle East: to work to ensure the Middle East peace process can be our goal again. There’s no alternative to the two-state solution.
The Oslo deadlock produced only a string of crises and violence, as in Gaza last year and, a few weeks ago, unspeakable acts that led to the tragic death of a child in the West Bank. The status quo is not only intolerable, it’s dangerous; it plays into the extremists’ hands. So France strives to keep a window open for peace. That’s the purpose of our proposal to broaden the field of international responsibility by means of a support group that would include the Quartet, the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN, as well as those Arab and European countries that would like to give the process a strong push.
It’s also the purpose of our action at the United Nations. The goal is to get the two sides to make the necessary compromises to ensure negotiation can resume and succeed. War—yes, war, which we thought was far from Europe—has also returned to our borders. It’s what has happened in Ukraine over recent months. We must bear in mind the lessons of history. When the very foundations of collective security are called into question, a swift and firm response must be provided.
That’s what we did with Chancellor Merkel, to prevent the Ukraine crisis from degenerating. It all started on 6 June, on the beaches of the [Normandy] Landings. That was where we conceived the Normandy format. It was this Normandy format which enabled us to reach—it took a night—the Minsk agreements in February.
It enabled us to save lives—not all of them: there have been more victims in recent months—and mark out a path. However, we must be clear-sighted: the ceasefire isn’t being fully observed, the withdrawal of heavy weapons hasn’t been completed and the Ukrainian people’s living conditions are tragic, in both the east and the west. The implementation of the Minsk agreements absolutely must be speeded up.
That was the aim of the meeting I had in Berlin yesterday with the Chancellor and the Ukrainian President, Mr Poroshenko. The goal is to be able to organize elections in eastern Ukraine, as provided for in the Minsk agreements. I’ll have to talk to the Chancellor again and to President Putin to consider a new meeting, which could be held in Paris, in the Normandy format.
The Ukraine crisis is having detrimental effects politically. Economic relations between Russia and Europe are frozen, with sanctions that are having consequences for Russians, but also for Europeans. We can see it clearly in terms of agriculture and at humanitarian level, with a situation that is continually deteriorating.
France wants to maintain sincere dialogue with Russia, in keeping with history and with the nature of our relationship and the common interests we have in the world. France wants to act as it always has, both in solidarity with its partners and fully independently.
In September 2014, I suspended the delivery of the first Mistral ship to Russia, because the situation was one of conflict. One year on, in the present context, France clearly couldn’t deliver a force projection instrument to Russia. The matter has been handled with a great sense of responsibility on both sides, with mutual respect. I’ve discussed it several times with President Putin.
We were able to negotiate favourable conditions as far as we’re concerned, avoiding penalties and leaving us a free choice of new buyers, a number of whom have also come forward. I also invite those—there still are some—who were announcing an end to France’s credibility as an exporter of military hardware to consult the figures. Never have French products—and not only Rafales—been so sought-after for their technology.
Nor are we talking—because we’re a country that manufactures and exports arms—about abandoning our convictions and our principles. Human rights, democracy and the fight against corruption are recalled on every occasion in my visits, by myself, the Prime Minister and the members of the government. They’re what makes our country respected, in a central position, capable of talking to everyone.
ENERGY TRANSITION/CLIMATE FINANCE
It was no doubt this status that earned us the honour of organizing the Climate Conference. So making this meeting a success is a major challenge. The positive signs are there: we’re making progress. The United States has presented a brave plan; President Obama has personally committed himself to the energy transition, the low-carbon economy. The Chinese Premier announced in Paris, in this very hall, a serious contribution by his country to reducing CO2 emissions.
Europe made commitments which reflected our goals. The Energy Transition Act was regarded as a model piece of legislation. At the time of speaking, 56 countries, accounting for over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions, have submitted their contributions. I call on all the others—there are still a lot—to do so.
There’s also awareness-raising, and the Pope’s voice was particularly heeded through his encyclical. The fact that he’s able to come to the United Nations General Assembly to reiterate his appeal lends significant support. There’s also the mobilization of many players, non-governmental organizations; we had no doubts on that score. Major voluntary organizations, civil society and also local authorities—many of them—have taken the initiative. Businesses are now aware that it will be a key to their competitiveness and their future.
This mobilization has produced results, but it isn’t enough. We mustn’t relax our efforts on anything. I’m aware of Laurent Fabius’s efforts in going wherever necessary. Ségolène Royal also went to Africa; the ministers are fully committed and I know that, here, our network of ambassadors is determined to convince and inform people. I myself shall be going to Beijing at the beginning of November to work with the Chinese President on taking a new step forward.
I’ll also be going to Seoul, where the Green Climate Fund is based, because we know that the issue of finance is going to be essential. As far as the negotiation itself is concerned the working group’s co-chairs, responsible for presenting the draft agreement, submitted a better structured, condensed text on 24 July which will enable a discussion to be held at the session opening in Bonn in a few days’ time. There you have it; we’re making headway.
As I’ve said, the toughest part is yet to come, i.e. the agreement itself. So we’ve got to move more quickly. During the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—who will be with us today—and I want to organize a meeting of heads of state and government which, precisely, mobilizes people and provides the necessary impetus. The goal isn’t for us to replace the negotiation itself but to set the level of global ambition and means to achieve it.
At the Paris conference, I thought it best to invite the heads of state and government right at the start of the conference, not the end. At the end it’s sometimes too late and even their rhetoric isn’t enough to convince people and wrap things up any more. So it will be at the start of the conference; that’s the lesson we learnt from Copenhagen. Nevertheless, I know the obstacles which still lie ahead of us. Firstly, many developing or emerging countries are worried about the effects of fighting climate change vis-à-vis their own growth. So we’ve got to reassure them and provide them straightaway with technological solutions, for energy in particular.
We must demonstrate that solutions exist for reconciling all the goals. With India, for example, we’ve put in place a solar energy plan, because we know that that great country wants to make solar energy its priority. We’ve also got a major renewable energy plan with Africa. We’ve got to listen to the vulnerable countries too. A few months ago, I was in the Philippines with Nicolas Hulot, whose tireless commitment I salute. We quite rightly wanted to issue an appeal, the Manila appeal, to show that these disasters may hit the most vulnerable countries first, but every continent is affected.
I also went to the Pacific and to the Caribbean, to convey the message of island states, for which the Paris Conference isn’t any old negotiation, since it concerns their own future in 10 or 20 years’ time. If we want to make Paris a success, there will undoubtedly have to be political commitments, an agreement and financing. This is where we have to actively seek all solutions and mobilize people to act. $100 billion for 2020.
This is already one promise which hasn’t been kept; it must now be an obligation. It’s absolutely essential for there to be an agreement. Without $100 billion there won’t be an agreement in Paris, because that sum is absolutely essential for adaptation efforts and technology transfers.
We also had the Addis Ababa summit, which, again, was important for development financing. Here too, there will be an impact on the Paris conference.
I want to take this opportunity to say that our development policy must evolve, must be reformed, and that the tools employed to serve this policy today must be strengthened further. So I’ve decided, in liaison with the Foreign Minister and the Finance Minister, on an important reform, by bringing the French Development Agency closer to the Caisse des Dépôts [French savings and banking institution] group.
The Agency will draw on the combined financial might of the Caisse des Dépôts and the state. In this way, we’ll have—moreover, other countries have done this before us: Germany, Italy—a genuine financing agency, which will be better funded, better equipped and also linked to local authorities and businesses, following the example of what the BPI [Public Investment Bank] already does for domestic finance.
The French Development Agency will gain an anchorage and also resources from this, and be given a new project with new means to benefit the development of the energy transition and France’s global reach.
CHINA/STOCK MARKET CRISIS/GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
The world we know is experiencing crises and—sadly—wars, it has challenges to take up and remains profoundly unstable. We’ve had further illustration of this with the stock market movement over the past few days affecting Asian countries, particularly China.
The subprime crisis left deep scars; it was overcome only with time and with corrections which were costly for people in terms of growth and living standards.
Decisions were taken, firewalls were installed in Europe with banking union, but today it’s the Asian markets which are most exposed, following a wave of speculation which was—like any speculation, as it happens—disconnected from the real economy, but powerful, in China and the Asian countries. We have to look closely at this problem, not deny it, and at the same time be able to know what it can represent both in its duration and geographically. I have confidence in the Chinese authorities to overcome this stock market crisis. They have the means to act, and Chinese growth, although it’s slowing down, remains at a particularly enviable level. I don’t want to give the growth rate, in order not to influence ours too much!
We would like to get China to commit to shouldering all its responsibilities when it comes to global governance and putting mechanisms in place. China is the world’s second-largest economy; obviously it has to adapt itself as well, adapt its capital markets, adapt its organization and also tailor its growth to targets which may be those of the whole world, particularly for currency regulation and the regulation of financial flows.
China must be involved in global governance. It’s also going to hold the G20 presidency next year, and France has decided to join the Asian Infrastructure [Investment] Bank, a new multilateral bank, precisely because we want to be involved in present and future development and the investment in China.
I want to end by talking about Europe. I’ve said what the main challenge is today: to be capable of controlling migration, in the context of an international crisis that we must resolve. To be capable of facing up to tensions which exist and which may be exploited—as we well know—by extremist movements. To be capable at the same time of reassuring and protecting. It’s our duty to protect. To protect our territories, to protect our people and at the same time to be in keeping with our principles: humanity and firmness. To do so as a country that has to shoulder its own responsibility, to do so in Europe, for Europe, with Europe, and that’s the purpose of the European Council meeting, which must take the decisions required, on the basis of the proposals which we’ve drawn up and which others can still build on.
There’s also growth in Europe. The signs of improvement, again, are perceptible. There’s been a reordering of priorities, more towards growth than was hitherto considered. The Juncker Plan has been launched.
And at the same time Europe experienced a new crisis—at any rate new agonies—with Greece. The choices that were made, after lengthy discussions—again for whole nights—reflected the principles I set out at the beginning of the negotiation. Greece has remained in the Euro Area, a financial programme has been established by the institutions to encourage its return to growth and ultimately limit its indebtedness.
Alexis Tsipras took some brave decisions; he could have made other choices; some suggested that he leave the Euro Area, devalue a currency that would have been reintroduced, a national currency, be obliged to conduct a programme, make even more severe adjustments, remove his country from the common path and seek improbable alliances with countries that would not—beyond their solidarity—have been able to provide him with the necessary funds. He didn’t want to give up his principles of justice, reforms and progress, and France didn’t ask him to, because Europe can’t seek to impose a political line: merely the need to take reality into account. So Alexis Tsipras took brave decisions both economically and politically; he referred the matter to his people and he’ll get an answer.
We must learn lessons for ourselves. I’m not talking about lessons on whether or not to adapt to the reality, whether or not it’s necessary to govern; at some point politics exists to govern and lead—otherwise it’s another concept: resistance and protest.
But we must also learn lessons about what Economic and Monetary Union must be. We can’t simply make do with an economic area, with minimal rules and with solidarity that can be expressed only in crises. We must provide a new way forward for Europe—otherwise, we can clearly see that nationalist withdrawal will prevail, and the rise of self-centred interests, so it will be the abandonment of the European project.
So it’s up to France—always in its place, with its partners, and particularly Germany—to make proposals and move forward. I mentioned the formation of an economic government, so that it can have the power not only to ensure that the commitments, the rules accepted by everyone are honoured but also to act in the Euro Area’s interests.
Initially we must remain in the framework of the current treaties, especially at a time when some are demanding to renegotiate them.
I propose setting ourselves the goal of ensuring in the Euro Area the best conditions for investment and finance that Europe can present to the world. It’s excellently placed to do this if it harmonizes its provisions. Banking union is a first pillar.
We must also give the Euro Area more ability to act, which means mechanisms that must be simplified, made coherent, and governance—particularly the Eurogroup—that must be more effective, more transparent and, in a way, more democratic, with the goal of majority [voting] rules.
In this framework, there can be fiscal and social convergence between the economies and we can also demand extra rights, particularly in the area of labour law, so there can be common rules in Europe and dumping can be prevented.
In a second phase, Europe, through the Euro Area, can have an additional budget, its own budget, to make the necessary investments for the energy transition, digital technology and youth employment. So we must think about new resources, safeguards, to fuel this Euro Area budget, with parliamentary control being obviously necessary, given that resources and investments are envisaged.
Of course several countries may not embark on that path: first of all those which aren’t in the Euro Area and don’t intend to join it, and also others which are in the Euro Area, which don’t necessarily want to go as fast as us. It’s what I’ve called “differentiated integration”.
At the same time, we must provide a way forward for Europe as a whole. This way forward is about the possibility of being an area of rights, of principles, but one which protects: protects people, protects jobs, and also gives more opportunity for growth, which means investment, competitiveness and innovation.
There’s also the issue of the United Kingdom. It’s not a new issue, but it’s been rekindled through the [EU] referendum proposal. France’s position is simple. It would like the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. I believe it’s in its interests and also in the EU’s interests, but all this must be done on the common basis of the treaties.
FRENCH NATIONALS ABROAD/FRENCH INFLUENCE/TOURISM
Ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, France’s external action serves the goals we’ve set for our country’s success. There’s no dissociation between foreign policy and domestic policy. What we want, beyond our own sensitivities, is to ensure our country’s global reach, its influence. We’re still one of the few nations in the world capable of setting a direction, taking initiatives, triggering processes, sometimes preventing the worst and finding solutions. Our country’s role is to ensure its influence, but also its economic interests and its security. Two and a half million French people live abroad, and I pay tribute here to the people representing them. Those expatriate citizens rely on us, the diplomatic and consular network, to defend their interests, not only when they’re in distress but also when they’re on the move, for their projects. It’s important to address their demands, because those French people, who are far from France but deeply rooted in France, ensure our country’s economic development, its cultural influence, and are a strength for France. They must feel fully supported.
Thanks to our businesses—and this was the challenge of economic diplomacy—we’re conquering markets that strengthen our economy, and I ask you to fully exercise your authority over all the services and operators available to you, to support entrepreneurs’ efforts on a daily basis.
I also welcome the role of the cultural, scientific, educational and academic network abroad. With the Prime Minister and ministers who pay visits, we have the opportunity to pay tribute to these institutions and the staff dedicated to them. It’s significant; few countries have this ability. Ours has more ambition, because it wants to spread the influence of Francophony, but it’s more than that: to get people speaking French, writing in French, to welcome every culture, including in our institutions. It’s about ensuring France can be fully welcome, esteemed, eagerly-awaited, and from this viewpoint what you do, what this network is capable of promoting, is essential for the idea of France.
We also want to welcome artists, students, researchers and entrepreneurs. We’ve simplified the visa system; I thank the ministers who took this initiative. Even though it’s confronting terrorism, even though it must control migration, even though it must do its duty for refugees, France has a universal role. It mustn’t curl up into a ball, it mustn’t be afraid to ensure the best minds come to us to provide us with what they’ve devised in their countries and want to offer the world via France. What’s at stake is the battle of ideas, and once again France must be at the forefront.
The promotion of our country is a component of diplomatic work; I know that’s the work you’ve been entrusted with. The country’s attractiveness must particularly encourage investment that brings innovation and jobs.
There’s also tourism, which is quite simply about making the most of our landscapes and our heritage, but also the professionals who are dedicated to them, and I’m not forgetting gastronomy.
More than 85 million visitors this year. A record year is being heralded, and France is the world’s leading destination. We must make this situation—which is ultimately also the product of all the professionals committed to it—a strength and an asset.
Laurent Fabius has begun a reform of our external action, and I want to mention it here. It’s an important project, because France conducts a foreign policy that goes beyond the defence of its own interests. Because of history, the place we occupy, our own volition and our status as a role model—I mentioned the energy transition—, we have an ability to act, provided we put in the resources. To act for us, for our interests, for French people’s security, and also to act for the ideals we uphold and the protection of the planet. That’s what we are doing through the Climate Conference. I come back to it because this success is inseparable from our action for development, security and peace.
It’s because we uphold these values that the terrorists want to strike us, but it’s because we’re guardians of this great idea of progress, or I could say this great idea of France for the world, that many countries signal their solidarity with us and many peoples express their gratitude to us.
It’s because we’re aware of our responsibility that we must still work to ensure France’s influence abroad.
Statements by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of COP21, during his joint press briefing with Mr Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, and Mr Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Peruvian Minister of the Environment, President of COP20 (excerpts)
Paris, August 26, 2015
THE MINISTER – As you know, since Monday we’ve had what we call “Ambassadors’ Week”. It used to be the Ambassadors’ Conference, and now, given how it has developed, we bring together France’s ambassadors for a whole week to put across a number of messages. The President set out France’s international policy yesterday and we’re also listening to a number of messages which ambassadors who are present all over the world have for us. (…)
This year, we wanted to put the spotlight on climate disruption for two reasons, which are extremely simple to understand.
It’s one of the major problems for mankind and we know that last year and the first few months of this year were the hottest on record. And this has a whole series of absolutely devastating consequences. And when I say “devastating”, I mean literally.
Consequences both as regards extreme phenomena – typhoons, floods, droughts –, consequences as regards biodiversity, food, health, migration and consequences as regards peace and war. These are things which are becoming familiar to everyone.
As you know, if there’s no powerful action, the IPCC scientists have explained to us – and this isn’t disputed any more – that climate disruption risks getting even worse, with terrible consequences for mankind, in terms of climate, poverty and conflicts. This was the main reason why the fight against climate disruption had to be foremost among our concerns.
And it was also particularly essential given that France, as you know, after Peru, has been chosen to host the conference, called COP21 – which we’ll call the Paris conference for short. All French diplomats are mobilized, as are many worldwide, to make this conference a success. The President is at the forefront of efforts and I myself will have the honour of chairing it.
It’s against this background that I asked Mr Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, if he would be kind enough to speak to all France’s ambassadors this morning. It was extremely kind of him – and I thank him for it – to come to Paris to set out not just the way he sees a number of issues but firstly the way he himself is committed to making the climate conference a success. (…)
Q. – (in English, on a new paradigm with the emergence of the green economy and its consequences for emerging countries)
THE MINISTER – (…) Greenhouse gases (CO2, methane) are being emitted on too massive a scale, that’s the crux of the problem. But when you emit them, they don’t dissolve. Some of them are going to stay in the atmosphere for a few months, a few years, a few dozen years or a few thousand years.
So we’ll never get back all the time we waste through not taking sufficient action. We risk finding it physically impossible, if we don’t manage [to solve the problem] quickly enough, to get what is essential, namely staying below 2ºC. (…) There’s no plan B, because there’s no planet B. So this isn’t just any old negotiation. We can’t say: “this year it isn’t possible, we can start again in three years”. No, because if we don’t take very swift, very powerful action, then we make it impossible for ourselves, because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases, to find a solution. This is a scientific point that isn’t always borne in mind but is decisive in this negotiation./.
Foreign policy/Iran/Mali/Greece/Ukraine/fight against terrorism/migration issues/COP21/economic diplomacy/Quai d’Orsay of the 21st century/Ambassadors’ Week
Closing speech by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)
Paris, August 27, 2015
This Ambassadors’ Week has provided us with an opportunity to discuss major subjects, the major subjects, in a useful way – that’s its purpose –, in particular COP21, which, without being arrogant, we’ll call the Paris conference. (…)
A year ago, in this same place, I broadly outlined our “omni-crisis” world. I emphasized the violence and concomitance of those crises: security, political, economic, climatic and health crises. Together with the French President and Prime Minister – who spoke to you on Tuesday and Wednesday – I set out to you the guidelines of our diplomacy, as the President and Prime Minister have done this year. One year on, what’s the situation?
First of all there are – we mustn’t hide the fact – several positive aspects. They’re not the most numerous, but there have been several positive changes, particularly thanks to France’s efforts. They prove that diplomatic action – I mean our mission – can actually, unfortunately not always but often very significantly, change the course of things.
The Iran nuclear issue, first of all. For the past 12 years this issue has occupied and preoccupied the international community. For the past 12 years it’s been the focus of doubts, fears, negotiations and equivocations. An Iran equipped with an atomic bomb would not only have been a considerable danger in itself, we’re also convinced it would have triggered a deadly nuclear arms race, in an already explosive region.
Given these risks, France, with a really outstanding team of negotiators alongside me, adopted a position of “constructive firmness”: yes to an agreement, but an agreement which removes Iran’s access to a nuclear weapon in a certain – i.e. a verifiable – way. This firmness, which is legitimate given what’s at stake, governed our stance through to the very final hours of negotiation in Vienna. It enabled us to achieve a robust agreement on 14 July. If it’s approved, then honoured – and we’ve provided ourselves with the means to verify that it is –, it may potentially facilitate more peace and stability in the Middle East. That’s the message I sent during my visit to Tehran at the end of July: for once, the term “historic agreement” isn’t overused when it comes to the 14 July agreement.
Another major international step forward was the agreement on reconciliation and peace in Mali. Let’s not have too short a memory. Less than three years ago, the interim authorities were under threat of death, with terrorists moving around freely and just a few hours away from harshly appropriating the whole of Mali. The French intervention of January 2013 put a stop to that. We didn’t make the mistake of believing that the solution would be solely military and that the “follow-up” didn’t concern us. From experience, we knew political, military and development support was necessary. Hence our support for the efforts by Mali and the Africans to organize democratic elections. Hence our mobilization of the international community – Europe first and foremost – for the necessary funding for Mali’s reconstruction and, beyond that, the Sahel’s development. We supported peace efforts between the government and the northern groups, which led, with the skilful support of the Algerian mediation team, to the June 2015 agreement. Not everything has been resolved, and acts of violence, sometimes serious, continue and must be combated, but in Mali – as in the Central African Republic, where elections are due to be held in a few weeks’ time –, France, its diplomacy, i.e. you yourselves, and its armed forces – let’s be clear – did its duty as a power of security and peace.
In another context, I want to talk about the Greek crisis: thanks in particular to the personal involvement of the Head of State and the Chancellor, we were able, over recent months, to get the Euro Area countries to take the necessary difficult decisions with that country, in line with the principles of solidarity and responsibility that must govern the European Union. The French government was aware of the considerable risks – not only economic and financial but also geopolitical – that a Grexit would have posed. By getting our partners to share this analysis – with Michel Sapin and Harlem Désir at the forefront in efforts to achieve this –, and even though we’re still being vigilant, because uncertainties remain, we contributed greatly to preparing a European compromise. And we’re drawing more general lessons from this by suggesting the necessary ways to consolidate the Euro Area.
Still on the subject of successes, I also want to emphasize the discreet but determined and tremendously effective action to release our hostages and, in an entirely different vein –again, quickly engulfed in the great river of oblivion –, our initiatives against the scourge of Ebola in West Africa. In a very short period, under the impetus of Minister of State Annick Girardin, we supported care staff and the establishment of treatment centres, thus saving many lives. We’re still there alongside our African partners, to help them overcome a crisis whose consequences are considerable, including on development itself.
But obviously, for the sake of clear-sightedness, I must also mention several areas where, despite all our efforts, the situation remains extremely difficult and the prospects of a solution uncertain.
MIDDLE EAST PEACE EFFORTS
First of all, a few words on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Our strong belief is that the status quo would mean running the twofold risk of conflagration and deadlock.
France – sometimes too alone in this stance – refuses to stand idly by. That was the purpose of my visit in June to the region, where I pressed the case to everyone for a change of method, proposing that an international support group, bringing together in particular the Europeans, the Arabs and the permanent members of the Security Council, should support the necessary resumption of negotiations, and then – let’s hope – their completion, by incorporating them into a credible framework and timetable. When the time comes, we’ll need a commitment from the Security Council. I want to repeat here that France will abandon neither the demand for security for Israel nor that of justice for the Palestinians.
On the Syria tragedy, where the difficulties are huge, the French President has spoken clearly. The solution, as we know, is political. It’s imperative to find an agreement between, on the one hand, regime elements – without Bashar al-Assad,
who can’t be his people’s future, precisely because of his crimes – and, on the other, what I’ll describe as the non-terrorist opposition. The agreement will have to respect every community and every inhabitant. This approach isn’t intellectual stubbornness on France’s part. But to enable Syria to be saved and the terrorists to be defeated, if there’s still time for it, it’s the only solution, if there’s still time for it. We’ve discussed it, we’re discussing it, particularly with the Arabs, the Americans, the Russians, the Turks, the Iranians and the United Nations Special Envoy, Mr Staffan de Mistura.
The fight against Daesh [ISIL], too, is a subject of extremely serious concern, with repercussions on our own soil. For the past year, our armed forces have been taking part in the international coalition’s airstrikes in Iraq. This action is necessary but not sufficient. Additional efforts are essential at not only military but also political level, with an increase in “inclusive” gestures by the Iraqi government to rally, as far as possible, the Sunni and Kurdish populations. In June, at the international coalition’s meeting in Paris, we set out everyone’s responsibilities. We were very clear during the Security Council debate in March, devoted, on our initiative, to the minorities persecuted by Daesh, particularly Christians. On 8 September in Paris, in the presence of the French President, I’ll be chairing a conference with my Jordanian colleague to draw conclusions and propose an action plan: again it’s a matter of urgency, and again France, despite these difficulties – indeed because of these difficulties – won’t stand idly by.
It’s the same determination that drives us in the fight against Boko Haram, those religious fakes and genuine criminals. The African countries which are victims turned to France first; we were the first to be spurred into action, organizing a summit at the Elysée as early as last year. We drew in the international community, and some progress has been made: exemplary elections in that great country, Nigeria, and military operations against Boko Haram. We’re supporting cooperation between Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin. The terrorists still hold sway; with our international partners, we must strengthen support for the countries affected and for the African force that is being deployed. The President of Nigertia brings a lot of hope; he’ll be in Paris in mid-September, and we welcome that. Looking away would be an unforgiveable mistake, given our commitment to human rights and peace. And we won’t make that mistake.
This disorder in the world, combined with the poverty of many African countries, is behind the serious migration crisis Europe must confront. Only today, an appalling tragedy occurred in Austria, and once again it rings the alarm bell of inhumanity.
We’ve started providing responses, but let’s acknowledge that they’re still very insufficient and, above all, poorly implemented. In Libya, we’re supporting the efforts of the UN and Special Representative Bernardino León to establish a national unity government, combat terrorism and bring stability. On European territory, regarding migration issues, solidarity must be applied towards the migrants’ countries of first entry. Solidarity and firmness: the European Union has resolved to combat people traffickers; implementation must be speeded up, with support for transit countries and more support for the source countries’ development. Ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, when your country of residence is concerned, I’d like you yourselves to strengthen the coordination of services and take personal charge of this difficult issue.
Finally, in Ukraine, to halt the spiral of war and create the conditions for a return to peace, we proposed the Normandy format with Germany last year, then took action in February 2015 for the Minsk 2 agreements to be signed. Thanks to intense diplomatic efforts, they enabled a certain de-escalation, but the situation on the ground remains unstable, and the implementation of the political part of the agreements has yet to be improved. The withdrawal of weapons is essential. A timetable has been set: elections in the autumn, including in Donbass, and the completion of the process at the end of the year, with the return to full control of the border by the Ukrainians. We remain firm on these goals, recalled in Berlin at the beginning of the week. If they’re achieved – and they must be –, it will finally make the desirable lifting of sanctions possible, and this will be largely due to the diplomatic action of Germany and France.
And COP21? It’s the key diplomatic challenge. We devoted our whole working day yesterday to it and you’ve devoted many days and nights to it. As French presidency,
we’ve already helped make progress on major COP21 issues: the need for an agreement which is both lasting and dynamic, the equal importance – you’ve all become experts – of adaptation and mitigation, and the strengthening of the financial and technological aspect. Several points still need to be settled, but I for one have high hopes. The President is at the forefront on this and as future president of the conference, I’m devoting a major part of my activity to it. The ministers concerned are all mobilized. Our diplomatic network is powered up.
The challenge, I want to emphasize, is even more enormous than all the others I’ve mentioned previously because, if you think about it, firstly this is a problem which of course has no limits in either space or time. Secondly, because these aren’t conventional negotiations which can be put off until later if they fail, but rather a race against the clock, since every year which goes by without results or negotiations means the emission of further greenhouse gases accumulating for decades, centuries or even millennia. Finally, climate disruption is a problem on whose solution life itself on our planet and the solution to all the other problems depend. When you talk to your interlocutors, ask them to think about what a temperature rise of 4 to 5 or even 6ºC would spell for migration, with consequences for droughts, famines and floods. It wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of people who would be tragically affected by migration, like today, but hundreds of millions. In reality, it’s perhaps the greatest trigger for future war or peace. For all these reasons, on the evening of 11 December 2015, following the negotiations, it is so important for me to be able to utter these six words on France’s behalf: “The Paris agreement has been adopted”. If we manage it, obviously not everything will be resolved, but it will be a genuine historic turnaround, a turning point. It will probably be the greatest diplomatic step forward of the early 21st century.
What lessons are to be drawn from this picture which each of you could add to, nuance, enrich, particularly our parliamentary friends – whether they represent Metropolitan France, Overseas France or French nationals abroad –, to whom I particularly want to pay tribute because they’re really supporting us in what we’re doing in a huge way.
I draw at least three lessons from this. Firstly, without being naive or blindly optimistic, we must always have in mind the prospect – even if it’s distant – of diplomacy’s successes. Your occupation, the difficult occupation of diplomat, by definition comes up against the disorder of the world. But diplomacy’s raison d’être is precisely the idea that war, nuclear proliferation, poverty, climate disruption and human rights violations aren’t inevitable. This isn’t about naïve hope, but a firm belief we share based on experience and which probably motivated you to get involved. I’ve talked about subjects which are a stumbling block for us, crises we aren’t managing to resolve. But I’ve also deliberately mentioned magnificent successes. The difficulties mustn’t discourage you, us, but, on the contrary, encourage us never to give up, despite the obstacles. Jean Jaurès, as he often did, summed it all up in his famous Discours à la jeunesse [Speech to the youth] over a century ago when, talking about courage, he wrote: “courage means taking action and getting involved in the great causes without knowing what reward, if any, the deep universe has in store for us”. A fine definition of diplomacy!
Another lesson concerns, more mundanely, diplomatic formats. Because of the number and variety of the groups France belongs to, we enjoy a favourable position of influence and vice versa. Some traditional frameworks, such as the P3, the P5, the Eurogroup, La Francophonie [international Francophone organization], the G7 and G20, are obviously very useful, but we must also contemplate and develop ad hoc forums, adapted to circumstances, modelled on the “Normandy format”, created to deal with the Ukraine crisis. By acknowledging the special power, in these circumstances, of the Franco-German duo, we must increase diplomatic solidarity in Europe. We must also be creative in building new strategic structures which don’t undermine the United Nations but add to existing set-ups, with the emerging countries. I’m thinking particularly, however bold it appears, of India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Nigeria. We must make sure we don’t let ourselves be overwhelmed by competing formats, in which we don’t feature.
A final lesson focuses specifically on French diplomacy. Given this difficult, dangerous world, France is a power which holds its own. In a time when our fellow citizens have doubts about their leaders and, more broadly, are losing confidence in the ability of the government to produce results, I think that the concrete action of our, your diplomacy, is likely to restore a good deal of confidence. (…)./.
Fight against terrorism/European Union/economy/Ambassadors’ Week
Speech by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister (excerpts)
Paris, August 26, 2015
Strong diplomacy, then, in the service of a strong France. That, in a few words, is the message I want to send you today.
And France is duty-bound to be strong, first of all – as the French President recalled yesterday – in the face of the global terrorist threat and radical jihadism.
We must show the greatest vigilance, the greatest firmness and the greatest mobilization against this multiform, domestic and external enemy, whose modus operandi is constantly changing, as the events on the Amsterdam-Paris Thalys [train] a few days ago showed once again.
Above all, we must call a spade a spade. We’re at war against a new but equally bloodthirsty totalitarianism – a totalitarianism that wants to destroy civilization here in Europe, in Africa and in the Arab-Muslim world, to replace it with terror and tyranny. Combating this terrorist threat will take time. It’s a long-term battle.
We owe it to our fellow citizens, our compatriots, to be truthful in our language.
But we’re not unarmed or powerless in the face of this threat, which can strike at any moment. Our strength is a conviction: first of all it’s the Republic, a Republic determined to provide itself with every means, in accordance with the law – that’s the weapon and pride of democracies – to fight implacably. Here in France, of course, but also in the Sahel and the Middle East, where our armed forces are deployed.
Following the January attacks in Paris, the government took the requisite decisions. We increased our intelligence services’ staffing and resources: a few weeks ago we got a very important intelligence bill adopted, giving our services a legal framework and providing them with the legal means to hunt down terrorists more effectively. And I ask you to go and explain to your interlocutors the measures being taken by France in its fight against terrorism.
But we can’t fight alone. International cooperation against terrorism is more of a necessity than ever. Moreover, it’s even a condition of its effectiveness. We must also closely follow the initiatives taken on the fight against radicalization. Our absolute priority, of course, is to arrest those individuals who could take action. It’s also to detect sufficiently early those who, particularly via the Internet, social networks, are about to switch to jihadism. Many of our partners have set up projects involving families, social actors and local authorities which could inspire what we ourselves are putting in place in France, and I ask you once again to be especially mindful of initiatives taken in your respective countries and inform your authorities of them.
Fighting terrorism also means protecting our interests abroad, because they’re under threat, because you yourselves may be under threat. I want to tell you that we’ll never compromise when it comes to the safety of French people abroad or the protection of the state’s representatives and our embassies. Laurent Fabius has rightly made this a priority for the Foreign Ministry’s budget. And whenever it’s necessary, the resources allocated to the state’s security abroad will be adapted.
A strong France is also a France that carries weight in Europe. Europe faces considerable challenges. There is, of course – and it’s the urgent priority – the migration challenge, with its daily tragedies. There’s also the challenge of growth and employment. Finally, there’s the growing challenge to a European project that no longer speaks to people’s hearts, no longer speaks to the young generation. Each of these challenges is huge in itself. Their combination places an historic responsibility on European leaders, on public officials.
Of course, people will say that Europe has always faced challenges since its beginnings, and that basically there’s nothing very new about that. After all, wasn’t it a challenge to have that wild dream, in the 1950s, of establishing lasting peace on a continent ravaged by war? A challenge to want to reconcile history and geography through enlargement? A challenge to throw ourselves into the creation of a single currency? The challenges have always been there, of course.
But today there’s something more – something more serious. The European project is no longer a clear requirement. We must fully grasp this situation, and it’s up to France, a founding country, to reaffirm this aspiration, the European enterprise. Not all alone, of course! Together with the others, starting with Germany. But I’m struck by the fact that, in all the discussions I have with European leaders, our country’s voice on Europe is irreplaceable. This does us credit. Above all, it imposes a duty on us.
Europe must resist the temptation, which still exists, to confront difficulties by centring on its national interests and questioning what has been so patiently built up by generations of visionary leaders.
The ambition must be to go further, to learn lessons from the repeated crises we’re experiencing, because when I see that the negotiations on the third programme of financial assistance to Greece ultimately went well in August, and that it now has the opportunity to turn a new page in its history, with new financial and economic resources, I can’t help thinking that we were 100% right to put all our country’s political might, on the President’s initiative, into keeping Greece in the Euro Area. Something crucial was played out in July which isn’t without consequences, either in the European debate or in the debate in France.
Going further for Europe first of all means making growth, investment and employment central to our policies. That’s the prerequisite. The Juncker Plan, in which France has been greatly involved, is being implemented. The initial funding is available and the first projects, including in France, are starting to be conducted – for example, in the field of renewable energy production, or to support innovative SMEs.
But it’s only a first stage. The investment needs in Europe are considerable. And we wanted this; the subject is now a central plank of the European Union’s economic strategy, alongside structural reforms and the necessary improvement of public accounts. Europe must also prepare the future, invest massively in its research capabilities, human capital and new technologies if it doesn’t want to be left behind by the big American and Asian blocs.
Going further for Europe means preparing the next stage: growing integration of the Euro Area, to make it more effective and, above all, more legitimate. Finally, it’s necessary –as the Head of State recalled yesterday – to provide the Euro Area with an economic government. The Euro Area must be able to build a genuine economic, financial, fiscal and social convergence policy. And as the President announced, France will make concrete proposals on all these subjects in the coming weeks.
Finally, going further on Europe means never hesitating to encourage European solutions wherever they’re necessary. Europe isn’t the solution to all our ills. It can’t do everything, and states must fully shoulder their responsibility in conducting public policy. But not making a full commitment at European level and doing things only by halves – because it would be politically sensitive or because the public wouldn’t understand – isn’t the solution either. Timidity never pays at European level. Only boldness will enable us to move forward.
This is why it’s essential to close the loopholes which end up working against the European project itself. I’ll take just one example, the one which obviously comes to mind: that of migration. It’s together, with a spirit of solidarity, firmness and also responsibility that we must move forward. Among other things, a European border-guard system must be created, a system which – let’s say it straight out – is essential for the Schengen Area’s very survival and credibility.
And in this same spirit, the European Union must equip itself with an asylum policy fully consonant with the values Europe advances in the eyes of the world.
It’s in this way, by continuing to take the European enterprise forward, that the EU will be able to affirm its position as a major trading, industrial and cultural power. This requires energy, conviction and determination – and you’re in the vanguard for this. (…)./.