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European Union/European Council

Published on March 21, 2014
Excerpts from the interview given by M. Thierry Repentin, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, to RFI

Paris, March 19, 2014

Q. – So as I was saying, the other subjects to be discussed in the course of this European Council include industrial policy. The European Union wants to reach a target of 20% of GDP obtained by industry in the member states. That’s a lot; France is currently a long way from it, because it’s at 12%. How can we achieve this?

THE MINISTER – By playing an active role. The EU’s policies benefit the industries that will tomorrow create a lot of jobs. This is true of R&D policy and the promotion of green technologies, for example.

Strengthening European industry also requires a European state aid mechanism enabling our companies to be competitive in the face of their non-EU competitors, which may receive aid from their countries of origin. That’s a new aspect: in the framework of European competition policy, and under certain conditions, we’d accept state aid.

Q. – That would be a change, because until now Europe has often been perceived as a power that hinders rather than helps in these kinds of situations.

THE MINISTER – Absolutely. We’d like the conclusions to set out very clearly the target of 20% of GDP emanating from industry in 2020.

Q. – There’s another agreement close to your heart – you’ve already spoken to us about it right here –, namely the agreement on banking transparency.

THE MINISTER – Yes.

Q. – Austria and Luxembourg, which were holding back on signing the agreement, should finally unblock the situation tomorrow and on Friday.

THE MINISTER – I’m optimistic that on Friday, at the European Council, Austria and Luxembourg will announce that they’re agreeing to move forward on the Savings Directive. This text would enable a request for information from one state about accounts held by a company or individual in another EU state to get an automatic response. Negotiations on this have been going on for seven years./.

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