Daily Press Briefing
Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(Paris, January 24, 2007)
[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]
Catherine Colonna, European Affairs Minister Delegate, gave a presentation at the Wednesday, January 24, cabinet meeting on increasing public information and involvement in European Union action.
She said it “was necessary to offer more explanation on European issues and to create the conditions in our country for a continued dialogue on Europe so as to restore a trustful link between the French and Europe. That is why, at President Chirac’s request, initiatives have been taken to increase public awareness and involve the French more in Europe’s actions. These initiatives were fleshed out in about a dozen measures concerning all the French people.”
Since June 2005, national legislators have become more involved in the processes of European decision-making. The same is true for the social partners since January 2006, and elected officials since the beginning of 2007.
Starting January 2007, to increase public awareness of Europe’s action in our regions, any project which has received European subsidies and whose total cost is over 500,000 euros will have to post a visible sign indicating European financing.
The Internet site www.touteleurope.fr was launched on May 2, 2006 in partnership with the European Commission. It quickly caught on and is now consulted by 10,000 visitors a day. It provides information on Europe accessible to all and gives Internet users the chance to express their views on major European issues.
The government has taken steps to inform citizens about Europe, especially the young, with a new core course: the geography, history, institutions and concrete actions of the European Union are now fully included in what is taught to every French student. In addition a Europe module has just been introduced as part of the Journée d’appel de preparation à la defense which will reach all young French citizens at the age of 18, that is, 800,000 a year.
Lastly the government has invited associations, businesses and local authorities to celebrate Europe, in order to express their pride in being actors in European integration and recall what it brings to our country, on Europe Day, May 9, by giving the date more meaning and a higher profile, and again this coming March 25 on the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaty.
Ms Colonna reviewed the timetable of measures that have been taken since June 2005 to increase French citizens’ awareness and involvement in Europe’s action:
- June 2005: debates are held in Parliament before every European Council;
- November 2005: the number of European draft texts submitted to French legislator is increased;
- November 2005: the first session to raise French legislators’ awareness of European issues is held; six trips to Brussels and Strasbourg have already been made. The seventh will be held in Brussels on January 29 and 30, 2007. All in all, over 130 legislators will have taken part in these sessions;
- January 2006: the first quarterly meeting is held between the minister delegate for European affairs and all the social partners to present the major European issues and solicit their opinions. The results of the meeting are sent to the European Commission;
- May 2, 2006: launch of the Internet site www.touteleurope.fr to disseminate information to the public about Europe;
- May 9, 2006: Celebration of Europe Day;
- September 2006: the new core course is launched: the geography, history, institutions and concrete actions of the European Union are part of what is taught to all young French students. This knowledge will be assessed at the time of the middle school diploma;
- December 2006: European Commission proposals of interest to local authorities are forwarded to the main associations of local authorities;
- January 2007: implementation in all ministries of a plan to provide training and support for European careers;
- January 2007: enhanced visibility for EU-aided projects in France through the placement of signs indicating such financing (for example, urban renovation, infrastructure, business “incubators”, schools) and regional Internet sites listing these projects;
- January 2007: introduction of a “Europe module” in the Journée d’appel de preparation à la defense
- Feburary2007: launch of the first class in the higher European studies cycle sponsored by Simone Veil;
- February 2007: first bi-annual meeting on Europe between the minister delegate for local government, the minister delegate for European affairs, and the main associations of elected officials;
- March 2007: celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaty.
The first international forum of local authorities is taking place in Casablanca from January 24 to 26. Organized by the Interior Ministry of the Kingdom of Morocco and the country’s national association of local authorities, this forum is the first major annual meeting of all the private and public stakeholders responsible for public works, services and management of local authorities in Morocco. Cooperation between French and Moroccan local authorities, especially their perspectives of development, will be at the center of the debates.
France supports the forum where it has a pavilion which includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, French local authorities, national associations of local authorities and all the French players engaged in decentralized cooperation.
The recent reforms in Morocco to further decentralization have increased the needs of local authorities which are given more powers. New actions in decentralized cooperation are likely to be initiated between French and Moroccan local authorities in such areas a local administration, access to local public and private services, people’s participation in local action, heritage management and conservation, transportation and urban development.
Embassy of France, January 24, 2007