Informal meeting of heads of State and government
Brussels, November 7, 2008
WASHINGTON G20 SUMMIT
THE PRESIDENT – The purpose of this meeting was to define for the Europeans a common strategy, common position and common body of beliefs before the Washington summit on 15 November, which will focus on the consequences we should draw from the unprecedented financial crisis the world has experienced.
This informal meeting provided us with the opportunity for a very wide-ranging debate, a very wide-ranging review. Virtually every State spoke and I can say that Europe has quite a detailed common position prior to the Washington summit. We’ll be championing a common EU position, a European vision of the radical reform of our financial system. Every country agrees this is necessary. They all agree with the imperative – words mean something – of strong, ambitious, operational decision-making at the Washington summit, which mustn’t simply be a talking shop for discussing and analysing the causes of the crisis. (…)
Whatever the differences around the table, we agreed on the text which will be handed out to you. There was a consensus on it. It has to be said that some countries, depending on their sensibility, put more or less emphasis than others on specific areas. We don’t want to move from a lack of regulation to too much, but we want to change the financial ground rules.
That’s the common base. So Europe will go to Washington with the political will to defend a line, one of transparency and radical reform.
EU/ECONOMIC POLICY COORDINATION
Second point of agreement: concern of all the European States in the face of the gravity of the economic situation, and everyone, I mean everyone, is convinced of the need to take economic initiatives after the financial initiatives. Everyone is agreed on asking the Commission to propose an economic strategy at the summit – the formal December one
– and everyone agrees on the absolute necessity of coordinating economic policies in Europe. Words mean something. Coordination doesn’t mean that we all have to do the same thing since our situations aren’t all the same, but that we must all move in the same direction: coordinate our economic policies as we have coordinated our financial policies. This is what the 27 States want to do. (…)
Q. – 48 hours after Barack Obama’s election, what is the European Union and France’s message to Barack Obama? And what do you expect from the new American administration? What are the European Union’s expectations?
THE PRESIDENT – (…) What do we expect from President Obama? That he help us create more justice in world affairs, modify global governance, and put the environment at the heart of the world’s priorities. (…) Working hand in hand with the United States of America like two allies, like two friends, like two partners with the same beliefs and the same values and who must deliver results. (…)
G20/DOHA DEVELOPMENT ROUND
Q. – (…) Second question: do you think it is wise or timely for the G20 to launch an appeal to get the Doha Round back on the road, possibly with an interministerial conference before the end of the year?
THE PRESIDENT – (…) On Doha, we all agreed that protectionism would be a disaster and no one around the European table wants a return to protectionism. So when it comes to getting the WTO process back on the road, we are completely agreed on the capacity for growth offered by free world trade. Once it’s got going again, there may be disagreements and, at some point or other, might it not be necessary to consider reforming the condition for negotiating a WTO agreement? Because after seven years, we haven’t achieved an agreement. Maybe there’s a procedural problem.
Q. – (…) For both presidents, what’s your reaction to the position of the Polish and Lithuanian presidents who are against restarting the negotiations with Russia on the new partnership?
THE PRESIDENT – (…) As regards Russia, I remind you that these negotiations have never been suspended. Never. Because in Europe, words mean something. Had there been a suspension, it would have required a unanimous European Council decision to resume them. President Barroso and I simply postponed the date. On this I want to put things as simply as possible. We have asked the Russians for four commitments.
First commitment: the ceasefire. Has it been honoured? Yes.
Second commitment: withdrawal of the Russian forces to the positions held prior to the 8 August crisis. Has it been honoured? Yes. (…)
Third commitment: deployment of the observers. Have the observers been deployed on the ground? Yes.
Fourth commitment: opening of international negotiations on the future status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are today Georgian territories. Are these very difficult discussions? They have begun, and have been encountering difficulties. Yes.
So on top of that, should we also create a Europe-Russia crisis? That doesn’t seem very sensible to me. For the rest, I have expressed my reservations, important ones, about President Medvedev’s latest missile-deployment statements. I’d add that when it comes to expressing reservations and disagreement, it’s better to see and talk to each other. It’s after all better for getting through to each other than ignoring and refusing to speak to each other. (…)./.