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Official speeches and statements - March 9, 2016

Published on March 9, 2016

1. Syria - Migration - Schengen Area - Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, during his joint press conference with Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany - excerpts (Paris, 04/03/2016)

Today I welcomed Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. Our goal was to prepare Monday’s European Council and organize here, in Paris, a telephone conference with Vladimir Putin, David Cameron - with whom I had a meeting yesterday - and Matteo Renzi.

This telephone conference was useful because it allowed us to reiterate that the ceasefire in Syria must be observed everywhere. The only action which can be tolerated is that directed against Daesh [so-called ISIL] and al-Nusra.

Any other initiative would violate the ceasefire and be a pretext for not actually applying it. We nevertheless noted that this was what everyone wanted and, moreover, what was being comprehensively observed on the ground.

We also called for humanitarian assistance to be provided under the best possible conditions to civilians, who are victims of this conflict and who may find themselves without food today. So we - everyone taking part - decided to coordinate our initiatives, our efforts, to provide - especially in Aleppo, but not just there - the essential support and assistance.

We also reaffirmed the opportunity provided by this truce to speed up discussions and open up a political transition process. The Russians, through Vladimir Putin, have agreed to this principle of negotiation on the basis of the United Nations resolutions.

We shall certainly have the opportunity for further telephone conferences in order, precisely, to follow the progress of this political transition process. There’s a chance, it exists, firstly to calm down the situation on the ground, to make bearable - as much as is possible for Syrians - a situation which has been intolerable; and, finally, to start a political negotiation allowing a transition and put an end to a war which, I remind you, has killed more than 300,000 people. (...)./.

2. International Women’s Day - Speech by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development - excerpts (Paris, 08/03/2016)


Of course, 8 March is a major international day of mobilization; it’s also a day of media exposure, that’s true, but it’s a cause that must galvanize all players, everyone who can get things moving every day. I said in Geneva a few days ago that when you look at the global scale of the battle for equality, for the right women have to own their bodies, the battle against discrimination of all kinds, against stereotypes too, against the violence carried out on women and sexist domination, you can see this battle is far from over. I’d even say that on the contrary, as I said on 29 February, there’s a tendency towards a regression, at any rate in certain countries. We must make constant efforts and fight every step of the way, in the conviction that to attack women’s rights - those universal rights gained at such a high price - is to attack us all. As you recalled, Mme Rispal, I’ve expressed this conviction both in my previous position as head of the government and in all my engagements. It isn’t about being self-satisfied, it’s simply about remaining vigilant and mobilized. Now that I’m in charge of French diplomacy, I’d like it to make women’s rights more of a priority and a principle for action than ever, not only in words but also in deeds.

We must continue sending these messages at every level, in the multilateral organizations and in all our bilateral relations, even though this dialogue is sometimes difficult. That, of course, is the job which I, as Foreign Minister and head of French diplomacy, intend to do.

But as far as we’re concerned, within this ministry, it’s also about being exemplary - at any rate, being vigilant and mobilized.

I’ve been made aware of the annual road map the Ministry draws up, under your responsibility, Mme Rispal - your title is Executive Member of the High Council for Gender Equality - and you also told me about it during the French President’s visit to Buenos Aires, saying how motivated you are by the mission. I’m delighted to know that the road map earned the congratulations - or rather the encouragements - of the interministerial committee for women’s rights and gender equality, a committee which, incidentally, I helped set up in 2012.

This is clearly the result of a proactive policy at the Ministry. I attach the greatest importance to it, and I’d like to draw your attention to three goals.

First of all, to increase the number of women who can be recruited to senior management positions.

Everyone must be aware that there’s progress to be made and that it’s necessary in order to improve the quality of jobs. It can’t be done without this daily improvement. This means thinking about genuine diversity, and it’s a challenge we mustn’t underestimate. It’s a central challenge, and I hope we’re spearheading that battle.

So we must continue to increase the number of women who can be appointed to positions of responsibility. In addition to equal pay, it must also be possible for career paths to be equal. I note, and welcome, the fact that there are currently 48 women ambassadors, admittedly out of a total of 202 posts - i.e. 24% of the total number of ambassadors to countries and for particular issues. That’s not many seen from outside, but it’s a progression if you look at the distance travelled, given that the Ministry had only 42 women ambassadors in 2015, 34 in 2014 and only 22 in 2010. This momentum must continue.

Today we have nearly 30% of women fast-tracked into management and decision-making jobs. If you look at what the situation is elsewhere, that’s a good result. But it’s nevertheless not enough.

We must continue our efforts to achieve the goals of the Sauvadet Act (1). In order to do this, it’s essential to increase the number of women who can occupy positions of responsibility. The share of women in the pool of staff who can be promoted to these kinds of positions is actually still too small. So it’s important to continue our proactive efforts, such as to promote a higher or equal share of women with equal skills, and I know this isn’t always easy, because some men may find it unfair. But we have to be clear: if we want to get things to change, we need this proactive approach which I take on board.

Secondly, it seems to me essential - crucial - to encourage a better work-life balance.

Since taking office I’ve been discovering every day, through contact with you, the great demands of the diplomat’s profession. For all that, it must be possible to reconcile these demands with respect for everyone, and the fulfilment of everyone, in their private lives. This means a change in working methods, but also in habits and behaviours. There’s a sort of routine too: we adopted a [Foreign Ministry working] time charter in May 2015. It was an important point that your discussions especially focused on last year, because you’re partly behind it.

But a charter isn’t enough in itself. I know our ministry must be able to face up to crisis situations at every moment, which demands great availability, and from that point of view this ministry is exemplary and must be commended. But not every time is a time of crisis. So every department must work at a certain pace, while being able to adapt to emergencies. I’m calling for an effort on working hours, so that staff working hours are brought under control. It’s not right for 12-hour days sometimes to be a habit, a routine as I was saying a few moments ago.

To address this challenge, it’s up to each of you, both men and women and particularly the hierarchy, to set an example and ensure the charter is implemented in practice. We can also be more flexible, making use of our new tools, such as secure computers and mobile phones, although we mustn’t be their slaves, because we must be careful not to misuse this new technology but to know how to use it intelligently. Indeed, I think we can trust individual and collective intelligence. I’d also like the Administration and Modernization Director-General to explore the teleworking route, particularly in the framework of implementing the decree of 11 February 2016 on the rollout of teleworking in the civil service.

Finally, my third goal is to support staff and their families as well as possible.

The «families delegation», whose creation was also largely inspired by your work, will be operational this year. It will enable us to respond better to staff’s expectations and practical questions. I’m delighted by this, and I’m also relying on your discussions to feed into consideration of the delegation’s purpose, role and operation. You must take full ownership of the delegation, under the authority of the Human Resources Director.

Measures to support husbands and wives are also a major priority. In the eyes of many of you, diplomacy is undoubtedly the world’s finest profession - and who could fail to understand you? Indeed, it’s a very lofty mission for France, with the entirely legitimate pride you can have in your profession. But don’t your spouses therefore also have to «marry the career» - an expression from another era -, agreeing to sacrifice theirs to your postings?

It’s a really difficult issue, it’s an issue of our times, our era. It arises not only for you but also for service personnel, for example, and it’s an issue that must be dealt with, that must really be tackled. Here too, significant progress has been made, particularly under your impetus, Secretary-General, and thanks to the active role of the Director for French Nationals Abroad and our posts. This progress must be continued. I’m thinking in particular of the number of countries where diplomats’ spouses can engage in professional activity: 60 countries today, with the target being 90 countries by 2017, so we’re making headway. I’m also thinking of the partnerships established with the private sector aimed at encouraging spouses’ employment, and we must develop these even further. So there are opportunities for progression. (...)

(1) Law introduced in 2012 which, among other provisions, placed on all public bodies an obligation to establish a balanced representation of women and men on their boards.

3. European Union - Environment Council - COP21 - Communiqué issued by Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs (Paris, 04/03/2016)

The European Union played a fundamental role in achieving COP21’s ambitious result. It was able to build alliances and speak with one voice. We must now keep up the momentum of ambition in the crucial phase of implementing the Paris results.

As President of COP21, I would like to thank you once again and pass on four messages - the four proofs of success.

1/ Making the signature and ratification of the Paris Agreement a reality

The first sign of our credibility and success will be the signature ceremony in New York on 22 April, on the invitation of Ban Ki-moon, who has invited all heads of state and government and has high expectations when it comes to Europe mobilizing.

For France, I have initiated the national ratification procedure and I shall present the bill to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday 9 March, with the aim of completing our procedures this summer. It would be a fine symbol for all the ratification procedures to be initiated in March, in order to announce it in New York, because we shall have to be in a position to present, all together and as soon as possible, our instruments of ratification jointly with that of the European Union.

Europe was strong and ambitious at the COP. We must maintain this trend and signal political will.

2/ Taking effective decisions without delay

We must take action at European level and in each country to apply the decisions of the European Council of October 2014. The international community included in the Paris Agreement the goal of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5ºC. So our actions must be in line with that goal. The revision of the [EU] ETS Directive must take this into account. We have pledged to carry out a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40%.

The European Council of 17 and 18 March has COP21 on its agenda. The French President will be spurring his counterparts into action. Civil society and the partner countries are expecting European leadership on the climate ambition, and a clear indication about the timetable for adoption of the Paris Agreement. Europe, which is undergoing many ordeals, has an opportunity on the climate issue to show its strength and unity. It is all the more motivating because we now know that what is good for the climate is good for businesses and employment.

I thank the Commission for having already put its proposal for reform of the carbon market (ETS) on the table, and the Dutch presidency for having started negotiations without delay. The Commission must present, as quickly as possible, all the other proposals on our emissions reduction efforts, not only in sectors outside the carbon market (construction, transport, agriculture) but also in relation to energy union (renewable energy directives, energy efficiency, buildings’ energy performance etc.). In all these areas, evidence-based policies are expected from Europe.

Europe must take action to bring to a conclusion the negotiations at the IMO and the ICAO on maritime and air transport emissions. The work on HFC refrigerant gases, in the framework of the Montreal Protocol, will also have to move forward.

3/ Putting Europe at the forefront of the carbon pricing coalition launched at COP21

In New York on 22 April, as has been my wish as COP President, the World Bank will convene the high-level Carbon Pricing Panel.

At European level, proposals are on the table - particularly the creation of a European carbon price band - to encourage low-carbon industrial investments and reduce the cost of supporting renewable energy. We must also combat business relocations and, along with them, emissions (carbon leakage), while ensuring that free quotas are reserved for the most highly-rated and the most exposed sectors.

4/ Strengthening the Lima-Paris Action Agenda

In New York, the focus will not be on the Paris Agreement alone. Europe will again have to show it is a driving force for the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. Seventy coalitions were created at the Paris Conference, bringing together countries, cities and regions, businesses, NGOs and citizens. These coalitions are grouped together around 12 Action Day themes. I’d like the afternoon of 22 April to be an action day: water, forests, agriculture, renewable energy, resilience, oceans, buildings, transport, sustainable cities, carbon pricing, and the research and innovation coalition.

With euro15 billion last year, Europe is the world’s main provider of climate finance. There are high expectations that we will continue this commitment. Our development assistance has a leading role to play, particularly to support vulnerable countries and help implement the INDCs. We have a duty to ensure the climate and the SDGs are interlinked. I am thinking in particular of Africa and the Renewable Energy Initiative, which is one of my priorities as COP President, because taking action for climate justice also means taking action for stability, by reducing climate migration thanks to access to development and to food and health security.

We must support the deployment of renewable energy for Africa - I have just come back from there - in order to realize the financial commitments made in Paris for the 10 gigawatts of additional renewable energy in 2020, just like the drive on water, a priority for Morocco in 2016. We must also strengthen our support for innovation, as several of us pledged at the COP, and the release of private finance.

Some areas, like energy efficiency, deserve to be handled better. The EU should be the leader on this issue and encourage - including financially - coalitions that propose concrete action in terms of building, electrical devices, lighting and heat networks.

Lastly, some areas are not yet covered: I am thinking of waste and the circular economy, and public mobilization - areas where Europe is ahead. Finally, it is essential to continue encouraging all businesses, banks and regions to commit to climate action.

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