9th Franco-German Council of Ministers
Straubing, June 9, 2008
THE PRESIDENT – (…) It’s the first time we’ve held this kind of Franco-German meeting with a specific theme, and not just any theme since we’ve reached a double agreement which comes after the third agreement – on ownership unbundling, where it was the German and French position which ended up carrying the day. We’ve got an agreement on the climate-energy package, undoubtedly one of the toughest issues, and I thank the Chancellor. We’ve got an agreement on car CO2 emissions; it’s a very important subject in France, although I perfectly understand our German friends’ interests, that they feel that their identity is virtually bound up with high-quality car manufacturing.
The French presidency is now getting closer and, on one of our priorities, the energy-climate package, we’re starting it with a Franco-German agreement. Let me add, on this matter as on others, that I fully intend working hand in hand with Germany and the Chancellor. It was a pleasure and honour to help Germany during her presidency. France needs Germany for her presidency and for us to have begun in this way on the energy-climate package augurs very well. (…)
You could say, "listen, every time, you say things are going well". But there’s a difference, it’s not just that we say things are going well, every time we present decisions proving it. I had the opportunity of telling Angela Merkel what a milestone for Franco-German friendship the Bucharest NATO summit had been, since, with the same position, we won the day. When we were – I believe it was in March – in Hanover, we’d said we’d have an agreement on vehicle CO2 emissions and an agreement on the energy-climate package. In Bavaria – I thank the Bavarian authorities for their welcome – we’re announcing this agreement. We’re trying to be methodical, talk about things. At times we start off from a situation where we’re far apart, but being far apart isn’t the end of the world because each country has its own identity. But what’s important is that, every time, we bring our positions closer together demonstrating publicly a friendship, an alliance and cooperation between Germany and France which take things forward. Indeed we’ve just added two more agreements to a long list in the last 14 months. Chère Angela, thank you so much, we’ll have the opportunity of meeting again at the forthcoming Council and publicly espousing the same positions on so many important matters for our Europe which really needs us to unite to protect the Europeans. (…)
[*Q. – When it comes to energy and the climate, in every summit, it’s said that everything is fine and results have been achieved. (…) But everyone knows that there’s no energy policy in Europe, particularly because of discord between France and Germany. So, Chancellor, a question for you: how long is Germany going to go it alone by totally opposing nuclear power? And a question for you, M. Sarkozy: what are we going to do with the windfall profits from the nuclear power industry? Are you ready to distribute them to consumers? In your new industrial-nuclear set-up, how much is German industry financing?*]
THE PRESIDENT – (…) It’s not for me to comment on German domestic policy. I can say that the Prime Minister and I have decided to commit France to new-generation nuclear power plants. A decision had been taken in 2004 for an EPR in France and the Prime Minister and I are working on a second EPR. (…)
On the industry front, I remind you that a great name in German industry, Siemens, has, to my knowledge, a stake in Framatome, and Framatome, as I understand it, is a subsidiary of Areva. (…) We French want to work with our German friends to produce nuclear energy. Of course, it’s a matter for our German friends to decide even though I am extremely interested in what Angela Merkel has said in a personal capacity. (…)
In any case, we are telling the Europeans: we French, in the face of the oil price explosion, in the face of the gas price explosion – which is to a large extent linked to the oil one –, say that nuclear energy is a promising solution for the future. But we also want to take inspiration from what our German friends have done with renewable energies. What we French are saying is that there’s a need for the new-generation nuclear power, more nuclear power, but at the same time also for more renewable energy, and we want to work with the Germans who are ahead of us. As regards renewable energies: I’m thinking of wind power, new generation biofuels and, a few weeks ago, you [Angela Merkel] inaugurated a wood chip plant capable of producing 4-5 times more energy on the same acreage. We say "yes" to nuclear power generation. We’re going all out on it, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need renewable energy. Let me add that, in the climate-energy package directive which we’re going to try and get through for Europe, France will be getting 23% of her energy from renewables by 2020. So because we’re way ahead on nuclear doesn’t mean we don’t want to catch up on renewables. To sum up, for us, the door is open, we’re ready to offer a helping hand. We want to work on new-generation nuclear power with the Germans but the decision is up to our German friends.
[*Q. – In three days’ time there will be a referendum in Ireland on the European Treaty and there’s a risk of a "no" victory. That would compromise your presidency and what you have told us about it. What would the European Union have to do if that happened?*]
THE PRESIDENT – An Irish rejection wouldn’t just be a problem for the French presidency but also for Europe. It’s for the Irish to decide, but what Mrs Merkel and I have decided is that, whatever happens, the reaction will be a Franco-German one. (…)./.