EU/growth – EU/political integration
THE MINISTER – Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
I’d like to thank you very sincerely for being here at this press conference I’m holding with my colleague Michael Link, after a working meeting that follows on from the initial meeting we had in Berlin a few hours after I took office. That meeting enabled us to have an initial discussion of a number of subjects of shared interest, including the one we’re focusing on today: the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty and the many events surrounding it. (…)
Q. – During your meeting, did you discuss the question of growth, particularly in Europe, and the methods to be followed? In the seminars you’re going to organize, will this subject be at the centre of the discussions?
THE MINISTER – I can confirm that this morning we devoted ourselves entirely to preparing for the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. I can also confirm that the question of growth is constantly at the heart of our discussions, whether we tackle these subjects informally or are given the opportunity to do so more formally, as happened yesterday, incidentally, in Denmark, where we and our colleagues, the foreign ministers, discussed the Financial Perspectives 2014-2020, which are not unrelated to questions of growth. My colleague and I discussed these subjects informally yesterday afternoon.
Our German friends know the French position, and we know the German position. And we talk to each other continually. Nothing can be built in the European Union without this iterative process of discussions, exchanges and confrontations. It’s quite natural, it’s quite an integral part of how the EU functions. When there’s a crisis, the discussion must be more intense than it usually is.
We agree about the fact that growth is one of the essential challenges in the coming months, and we agree that the question of growth that we’re working on doesn’t free us from budgetary discipline. We agree on the need to move forward in concert on these two fronts.
The debate is also continuing on the substance we give growth, and also on the instruments we must give ourselves. It’s continuing in a context that is, once again, quite simple: we have differences and we express them. We want to ensure that the EU overcomes the crisis, and we know compromises are required to that end. We know that in order to achieve compromises we must talk to one another.
So things are happening as they must in a crisis context, when large countries want to overcome the crisis together in order to succeed.
Q. – I don’t know if you talked about concurrent discussions on fiscal union, which is supported by Germany. What is France’s position on this, and are you going to submit a written text to the European Council?
THE MINISTER – I’m going to confine myself to general remarks, since we’re at the stage of working out our positions. What we’re saying is that we’re very keen to pursue the political discussion on matters to do with greater integration of our economic and monetary policies. Like our German friends, we believe in building a political Europe. This is an idea we share.
At the same time, harmonization and integration mechanisms can’t provide the answer to the urgent crisis confronting us. We continue to say that, given the scale of the crisis, urgent solutions are needed for growth. We’re trying to build these together. If these urgent solutions we’re trying to develop for growth – which allow us to respond immediately to the profound crisis facing the European Union – serve as a catalyst for greater political integration, of course we’re open to them.
We believe these two subjects must be treated similarly. There’ll be no political integration if we don’t succeed in overcoming the economic and financial crisis, and we won’t manage to overcome the economic and financial crisis with the relevant tools if we haven’t got a further process of integration. These issues don’t require a theological debate. We Germans and French, despite our differences, are adopting a very pragmatic approach. (…)
Q. – (inaudible)
THE MINISTER – I’m aware only of plan A. What’s important is for all EU countries to direct their energy to keeping Greece in the Euro Area./.