Official speeches and statements - February 17, 2016
You’ve just described a terrible situation. And the urgent thing today is very clear: it’s to protect civilians. And the bombing - I mean all the bombing - must stop. It’s intolerable for hospitals and schools to be targeted, as was the case only yesterday, when more than 50 civilians were killed by those bombings.
Those actions - as I’ve said, and in condemning them I repeat it - are flagrant violations of international law. This morning I called the President of Médecins Sans Frontières, Mego Terzian, to express to him the full solidarity and support of the international community and the government. Humanitarian workers are paying a heavy price for their commitment on the ground, and they must be praised. So the priority is, indeed, people’s access to humanitarian aid. And the situation is particularly tragic in Aleppo, where a million people live, 50,000 of whom have tried to flee.
An agreement was reached in Munich, it must be honoured, and it’s a commitment: an end to hostilities, an end to the bombing, access to areas to help the population, with a view to resuming the political negotiations in Geneva as quickly as possible - because that’s also the way to find a solution to this tragic crisis - and then mobilizing the whole international community without hesitation, without objection, against Daesh [so-called ISIL].
At this meeting, we’re going to look at the two major subjects of the forthcoming European Council: preparations for the British referendum, and the refugee crisis.
On the preparation of the agreement with Britain, we must work in a constructive spirit to reach an outcome at the forthcoming European Council on 18 and 19 February. Work remains to be done, particularly on relations between the Euro Area and non-euro countries - on the integrity of the internal market, on the regulation of financial markets - but I think the goal we must set ourselves is for agreement to have been reached on the bulk of these points between now and the European Council meeting.
David Cameron was in Paris yesterday. He’s continuing his consultations, and we, France, would like an agreement to be finalized before the European Council begins, on the text, or at any rate the essential parts of it, particularly on relations between the Euro Area and non-Euro Area countries. It’s absolutely clear we must ensure that Britain’s distinct identity, and the differentiated integration various countries follow within the European Union, are recognized, but that nothing prevents the Euro Area countries from continuing their deepening and their integration.
On the refugee crisis, the priority is to implement the decisions that have been taken. Progress has been made in recent weeks but is still insufficient, particularly on the establishment of «hot spots» in both Greece and Italy, effective border controls, the stepping-up of security checks when refugees enter, and the fight against illegal immigration, which endangers human lives.
Talks with Turkey, and support for Greece in particular, must absolutely be stepped up, at the same time as the member states’ commitment on relocation is being implemented.
There you are: those are clearly the two essential points at this General Affairs Council meeting, which should be useful in preparing the agreements that will have to be finalized at the European Council.
A few weeks after the success of COP21, Ségolène Royal wanted to bring her European Union counterparts together today and specify the commitments in the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. Organized jointly with the Netherlands, which holds the EU presidency until June, this first European meeting provided an opportunity to specify guidelines for finalizing the 70 initiatives in the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) between now and this summer.
Europe was at the forefront in making COP21 a success: the European Union was the first continent to propose an ambitious contribution (INDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The member states thus managed to get the world’s other countries to actually follow suit, contributing to COP21’s success. The European Union must retain this vanguard role when it comes to finalizing and implementing in practice the commitments of the Paris Agreement and the Action Agenda.
Before her European counterparts, Ségolène Royal called on the member states to be represented at the highest level during the signature of the Paris Agreement by the parties in New York on 22 April, and to speed up the ratification process.
On the Action Agenda, the Minister proposed three major guidelines:
· To consider together the mapping of LPAA coalitions, to make commitments more transparent and perceptible;
· To ensure that each country or small group of countries in Europe spearheads a coalition so that commitments are operational by this summer;
· To encourage European businesses to remain on the offensive to develop energy transition markets on the continent.
Moreover, four priorities for carbon pricing were recalled:
· To establish a price band on the European carbon market (EU ETS): the mechanism allows market price fluctuations to be kept between a minimum and a maximum in order to reduce volatility and improve the predictability of carbon prices. The Minister recalled that «this mechanism would enable us to trigger many more low-carbon investments and reduce the cost of supporting renewable energy, whose competitiveness would be improved».
· To include a carbon component in European countries’ energy taxes: France has already created the Climate Energy Contribution, set at euro22 per tonne for 2016, increasing to euro56 per tonne in 2020 and euro100 per tonne in 2030. Ségolène Royal emphasized that «this carbon component must be accompanied by the inclusion of a fiscal neutrality principle so that it leads not to an increase in taxes and contributions but only to a shift of taxation towards fossil fuels».
· To urge carbon pricing to be established outside the European Union and coordinate those countries which take action: the aim is to bring together all those countries which commit themselves to this, on the basis of shared principles like abolishing fossil fuel subsidies and harmonizing carbon prices. For Ségolène Royal, «the aim isn’t to impose on everyone a single price, or a single way of setting the carbon price, but to promote a gradual increase in the coverage of emissions by carbon pricing».
· To take the necessary measure to combat carbon leakage: Ségolène Royal reiterated «the necessity of better targeting the free allocation of allowances by reserving it for cases where it’s necessary, for sectors exposed to strong international competition and a genuine risk of carbon leakage». Thanks to this change, allowances issued could be used to strengthen innovation funds (NER300, NER-400) and finance the development of low-carbon technologies on the basis of revenues from the European carbon market.
The four guidelines will be promoted by Ségolène Royal during the next key stages in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, particularly the Environment Council of 4 March 2016.
Members of the government, in the capacity of Minister:
M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development;
Mme Ségolène Royal, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for International Climate Relations;
Mme Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research;
M. Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts;
Mme Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs and Health;
M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence;
M. Jean-Jacques Urvoas, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice;
Mme Myriam El Khomri, Minister of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue;
M. Jean-Michel Baylet, Minister of Town and Country Planning, Rural Affairs and Local Government;
M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior;
M. Stéphane Le Foll, Minister of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, Government Spokesperson;
Mme Emmanuelle Cosse, Minister of Housing and Sustainable Homes;
M. Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector;
Mme Audrey Azoulay, Minister of Culture and Communication;
Mme Laurence Rossignol, Minister for Families, Children and Women’s Rights;
Mme Annick Girardin, Minister of the Civil Service;
M. Patrick Kanner, Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport;
Mme George Pau-Langevin, Minister for Overseas France;
Member of the government, in the capacity of Minister of State:
M. Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, attached to the Prime Minister;
Members of the government, in the capacity of Minister of State, and participating in the Council of Ministers for matters relating to their responsibilities:
Mme Ericka Bareigts, Minister of State for Real Equality, attached to the Prime Minister;
M. Jean-Vincent Placé, Minister of State for State Reform and Simplification, attached to the Prime Minister;
Mme Juliette Méadel, Minister of State for Victim Assistance, attached to the Prime Minister;
M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development;
M. Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development;
M. André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development;
M. Alain Vidalies, Minister of State for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries, attached to the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for International Climate Relations;
Mme Barbara Pompili, Minister of State for Biodiversity, attached to the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for International Climate Relations;
M. Thierry Mandon, Minister of State for Higher Education and Research, attached to the Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research;
M. Christian Eckert, Minister of State for the Budget, attached to the Minister of Finance and Public Accounts;
Mme Ségolène Neuville, Minister of State for Disabled People and the Fight against Exclusion, attached to the Minister of Social Affairs and Health;
Mme Pascale Boistard, Minister of State for Elderly People and Adult Care, attached to the Minister of Social Affairs and Health;
M. Jean-Marc Todeschini, Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, attached to the Minister of Defence;
Mme Clotilde Valter, Minister of State for Vocational Training and Apprenticeships, attached to the Minister of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue;
Mme Estelle Grelier, Minister of State for Local Government, attached to the Minister of Town and Country Planning, Rural Affairs and Local Government;
Mme Martine Pinville, Minister of State for Commerce, Small-Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy, attached to the Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector;
Mme Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for the Digital Sector, attached to the Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector;
Mme Hélène Geoffroy, Minister of State for Urban Affairs, attached to the Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport;
M. Thierry Braillard, Minister of State for Sport, attached to the Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport.