The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - March 19, 2019
In this issue:

◢  European Union – Nathalie Loiseau's participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels - March 19, 2019)

◢  Support for the International Criminal Court (March 18, 2019)

◢  Mali – Attack against the Malian armed forces (March 17, 2019)

◢  Tunisia

◢  Syria

◢  Holy See

◢  Rwanda

European Union – Nathalie Loiseau's participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels - March 19, 2019)

Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, will take part in the General Affairs Council in Brussels on March 19.

The ministers will focus on the following points:

  • 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework: The Romanian presidency is holding thematic discussions in order to make progress on the proposals relating to the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. The ministers will discuss two issues during a public debate: the budget's contribution to the fight against climate disruption and the response to migration issues. The minister will reaffirm our priorities for the Multiannual Financial Framework and our desire to ensure that the EU budget makes a significant contribution to the climate goals, as mentioned by President Macron in his op-ed in the European press on March 4. We would also like the budget to respond to both the external and internal dimensions of climate challenges in a clear, coherent and coordinated manner.
  • Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance: Following more than nine months of negotiations, the ministers will be encouraged to adopt a partial general approach on the draft regulation on establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA III) which establishes the framework for EU assistance to candidate and potential candidate countries for the next financial programming period. The text meets our main goals: emphasis on the performance of countries with respect to the implementation of reforms, the rule of law and the steering role of member states in the allocation of funds.
  • Preparations for the European Council: The ministers will discuss the draft conclusions for the European Council meeting on March 21 and 22, which includes four points: i) employment, growth and competitiveness; ii) climate change; iii) external relations; iv) other points (review of progress in the fight against disinformation and the need to protect the democratic integrity of European and national elections throughout the EU). This work session will provide an opportunity to prepare for the meeting of heads of state and government on industrial policy, competition policy, trade policy, the digital economy, as well as the creation of a budgetary tool for the euro area. We would also like the heads of state and government to call for efforts to speed up work on the fight against climate change in the run-up to the European Council in June. Lastly, the minister will underscore the importance of discussions on relations between the EU and China, which we expect to help consolidate a shared vision in terms of cooperation on issues of common interest and principles on which we must remain firm.
  • The European Semester: In response to a point of order, the ministers will be asked to vote on the consolidated report on the Council's contributions relating to the 2019 European Semester and on the transmission to the European Council of the draft recommendation on the euro area economic policy.
  • UK's withdrawal from the EU: The General Affairs Council will then meet in the so-called Article 50 format, i.e. in an EU27 format, to discuss the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Michel Barnier will present the status of the ratification of the withdrawal agreement to the ministers following the parliamentary votes held in the UK from March 12 to 14, and ahead of the new vote on the agreement due to take place on March 20. The ministers will underscore that a possible new request to extend the negotiation period will not be approved without a clear and credible perspective, and that the EU is ready for all scenarios on March 29, including the UK's withdrawal without an agreement.

Support for the International Criminal Court (March 18, 2019)

In a context in which the International Criminal Court (ICC), its functioning and its future are increasingly being called into question, France, which has supported the creation of the ICC by the Rome Statute from the outset, reaffirms its full support for it.

It reaffirms that as the sole permanent and universal international criminal jurisdiction, the ICC has a critical role to play in the fight against impunity, which is one of the priorities of our action.

It must therefore be able to act and exercise its prerogatives without interference, in an independent and impartial manner, within the Rome Statute format.

Mali – Attack against the Malian armed forces (March 17, 2019)

France condemns the terrorist attack against the Malian armed forces camp in Dioura on March 17, during which at least 20 Malian soldiers were killed and 17 others were injured, according to the information available.

We extend our condolences to the families of the soldiers who were killed and wish the injured a speedy recovery.

We reaffirm our support for the Malian authorities in their fight against terrorism, as well as for the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.

The perpetrators of this attack must be prosecuted and held accountable for their crimes.


Are you going to follow up on the extradition request for Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who was arrested last week in the south of France?

Once the Tunisian extradition request has been received through diplomatic channels, it will be transmitted to the Ministry of Justice.


Two lawyers are attacking the French state before the UN Committee Against Torture; they are calling for the repatriation of all children of French jihadists detained in Syria. They claim that only allowing the return of children who have been orphaned constitutes "discrimination" against those whose mothers are still alive. What is your response?

We have taken note of this new request from the lawyers of the families of jihadists.

Our position is constant: With respect to children, their situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and determined in the best interests of the child, in accordance with international law. The decision to allow several isolated orphans under 5 years of age to return to France was taken in light of the situation of these very young and particularly vulnerable children.

Their situation is different to that of children accompanied by their mothers who have parental authority. [These are parents who are primarily responsible for the situation in which they have placed their own children within a terrorist organization and in a war zone.]

With respect to French adult nationals who were fighters and jihadists who had followed Daesh to the Levant, France's position has not changed: They must be tried in the territory in which they committed their crimes.

Our decision is based on justice and security concerns.

Holy See

Has the Paris public prosecutor referred a request to waive the diplomatic immunity of the apostolic nuncio to you and if so, have you transmitted it to the Holy See?

We will transmit such a request to the Holy See by diplomatic channels once we receive it.


A few days ahead of the commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, is the promised opening of the French archives actually taking place? Has the French-Rwandan commission of historians announced by President Macron started its work?

A lot of work has already been done with respect to the communication and declassification of the documents concerned. It is continuing in coordination with the other relevant ministries.

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