Referendum on the UK’s European Union membership
• President Hollande calls for clarity and unity over Brexit process - Press conference (Brussels - June 29, 2016)
• “A strong Europe in a world of uncertainties” - Joint contribution by the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (June 28, 2016)
• Joint Statement by French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian President Matteo Renzi (Berlin - June 27, 2016)
• Joint statement issued by the French, German, Belgian, Italian, Luxembourg and Dutch foreign ministers (Berlin - June 25, 2016)
• "France will therefore be leading efforts to ensure Europe focuses on the most important issues" - Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
• "It’s time to radically reform, reinvent another Europe, by listening to the people" - Statement by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister
• "Facing up means preserving the unity of Europe" - Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
President Hollande calls for clarity and unity over Brexit process
Press conference by President of the Republic François Hollande (excerpts - Brussels, June 29, 2016)
Ladies and gentlemen,
EU / Brexit process
Following the dinner yesterday evening in the presence of David Cameron, at which we went back over the British referendum and its consequences, it was necessary for us 27 to meet for a discussion which had to focus on two challenges: what relations to have with the United Kingdom in the period that has just begun, and secondly, what relations we must establish between the 27 to further a number of priorities, the ones I’d already recalled: protection, security/defense, growth/employment, social and tax harmonization, and finally priority given to young people.
So it was on those two challenges that the discussion began during the 27-strong European Council, which isn’t formally a European Council but a meeting, which indeed anticipates what the European Union could be tomorrow, with the UK leaving.
The two principles I spoke about were clarity, first of all, and unity. Clarity means ensuring we can learn every lesson from the British choice. Clarity means letting the British government—the one that will be formed once the Conservative leader has been chosen—submit as soon as possible its formal request for notification of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. In other words, as soon as the government is formed, it must submit its notification, and this will then initiate the two-year negotiation period the treaties provide for.
Clarity means that no negotiation, no discussion, can begin before that notification. It’s notification by the government that begins the negotiation, and nothing about this notification, or about the conditions for this notification, must be argued with.
Clarity means ensuring that as soon as the UK’s formal request for withdrawal is made, the European Council adopts the guidelines for conducting the negotiation with the UK on what the UK’s relationship with the EU will be, with a view to withdrawal. In other words—if we want to continue using metaphors or comparisons—, the divorce settlement must be established by the European Council. And then, of course, the European Commission and the European Parliament will have their role to play.
Clarity means that the UK will, throughout the negotiation period, remain a fully-fledged member of the European Union, with its rights, with its obligations, with its contributions. Then, when the UK is no longer in the EU, at the end of the negotiation, the UK will remain a partner of the European Union and will have a status, which will no longer be that of an EU member but of a third country, a country outside the European Union.
UK / EU internal market
If the United Kingdom wants to have access to the internal market—which was the privilege of being an EU member and which was the major advantage the UK could seek in the European Union—, by being outside the EU, like Norway for example, it has the right of access to the European internal market. But then the UK will have to respect what we call the four freedoms: the free movement of goods, services, capital and people, and there can be no exemptions. You can’t take three freedoms and leave out the fourth, particularly the free movement of people.
Likewise, if in the framework of this negotiation and therefore at the end of it, the UK wanted to have access to the internal market, the UK would have to agree to all its rules, with all the obligations, and particularly one, namely to contribute financially to the workings of this internal market and to its organizational rules. Norway, for example, pays a certain sum for access to the internal market; the same would be true, at a much higher level, for the UK.
So clarity is essential to avoid any guesswork, any questioning, in the very brief period between now and the British government’s notification of its withdrawal, at the beginning of September. Clarity is essential to avoid any questioning, any speculation about what could happen during the negotiation period, which lasts a maximum of two years. Given that there could be a number of British wishes, clarity is imperative in order to know what the EU’s relationship with its friend the United Kingdom would be, particularly for access to the internal market.
France / UK / bilateral relations
At the same time, as I’ve emphasized several times since the British decision, France will maintain close relations with the UK, not only because of its historical ties—which will lead me to be present alongside David Cameron and some of the British Royal Family at the Battle of the Somme centenary; it’s true history binds us together—but also because France and the UK are very close—also linked by a tunnel—, with a very significant presence of French people in the UK and British people in France, with research we share at academic level, cultural policies that we also share, and academic policies that have also considerably increased in recent years. Finally, we have very close economic relations with the British; recently we’ve been talking a lot about Hinkley Point and energy, so all that will remain.
I’m not forgetting defense issues, because for several years agreements have been reached which have considerably broadened cooperation in the military sphere, including even in the area of the deterrent, in cooperation between the UK and France.
Brexit / impact on EU
Secondly, unity among the 27 is essential, not only to resolve the issue of negotiation with the British but, above all, to face up to the difficulties that exist, even though Brexit is primarily a problem for the UK. It’s also more of a problem—as we can clearly see today—than a solution, but ultimately it’s the solution that has been chosen by the British. Even so, we must limit and reduce as far as possible the impact of this Brexit on the European economy. So in order to dispel all the threats, the risks—which are, incidentally, limited—it’s very important for us to ensure Europe can respond, and also its institutions. I’m thinking in particular of the Central Bank, but there will be decisions to be taken in each country to support investment even more, both private and public, to overcome any influence the British decision has on the current European situation.
We also need unity to successfully complete the negotiation; that’s why the European Council has been entrusted with this responsibility, together with the European Commission, obviously, as a support, and the European Parliament, because it too is a product of European legitimacy.
There must also be unity when it comes to the new impetus Europe must be given in view of the shortcomings, the remoteness, not to say the mistrust that have manifested themselves in recent years in relation to the European enterprise—not in relation to the European ideal but in relation to the way Europe could decide, or not decide, or took a long time to decide. Those shortcomings are linked to how cumbersome it is: it’s true that working as 28 isn’t simple, but ultimately it won’t be any easier as 27, even though sometimes one member can create more debate than others.
So we’re going to have to be able to address these concerns, fears, disputes, even in the European Union. So I wanted us—and Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi shared this wish with me during Monday’s meeting – us to be able to set not just a road map and an agenda, but priorities too. The road map means there will be a discussion under way from today. There will be a summit in Bratislava in September to start taking decisions and begin a number of reforms, or at any rate new approaches, in the framework, moreover, of the strategic agenda adopted back in 2014, but we must also prepare these meetings and, among other things, call on experts so that we can make progress on a number of issues. Which ones?
Security / migration / defense
To begin with, issue number one is security, border protection and control, and defense—everything which enables Europeans to be protected. Protected in relation to what might happen outside [the EU]—we’ve seen the tragedy of terrorism in Turkey again—, protected also in relation to migration movements, even though we’ve got to shoulder our responsibilities towards refugees. Protected, also, in relation to a number of types of trafficking, or risks which may affect our countries. And protected in relation to existing wars, and conflicts which may affect us. People know what the Chancellor and I have done as regards Ukraine; people know what France is doing with the coalition as regards Syria, Iraq and the fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL], so Europe needs to organize itself in defense matters.
This will also be one of the subjects discussed at the NATO summit in Warsaw, because I don’t want Europe to delegate its responsibility completely to NATO. Of course, NATO is the Alliance, and it’s where there must be coordination, but Europe must make a greater effort for its defense. From that point of view, France has nothing to decide today because we make the biggest defense effort, one of the biggest in Europe, along with Greece. But we have to tell European countries that they’ve got to share this defense effort, pool it maybe; there are ideas which can be put forward on these matters. So that’s the first priority.
Growth / employment / investment
The second priority concerns the trio of growth, employment and investment. But equally, in order for our industries of the future to be more powerful than today—which will also presuppose that competition rules can of course be implemented and, above all, adapted—we need global leaders, and then we’ve also got to have further support for both private and public investment.
Finally, the third priority for the 27, and I mean 27, is how we can give young people more hope, particularly as regards their exchanges, their movement within the EU and also their training, their employment and as regards culture. A provision safeguarding copyright was adopted to this effect yesterday, because Europe is about culture.
If we’d been in a Euro Area meeting, I’d have reaffirmed France’s stance for having tax and social harmonization and also, ultimately—this is one of the things we’ve got to start thinking about—a Euro Area budget and better Euro Area governance, but there were 27 of us.
I’ll end by saying that we must prepare for the Bratislava summit properly because the next few weeks are going to be decisive. Europe must show its strength, that’s the first condition, but it must also show its ability to put forward initiatives, for Europeans and with Europeans, and in a relationship with citizens which probably differs from the past. It’s this ability, based on strength and solidarity, which will enable Europe to regain full confidence in itself and avoid breaking up.
In my view, nothing would be worse than the status quo, because the status quo would, after all, mean the populists continuing what they do, namely forever calling Europe into question on things over which it doesn’t necessarily have power, but so that they can show every time that it’s Europe which prevents us from taking action. We must prevent Europe from being a target and being regarded as the problem whereas in fact it may, here too, be a solution.
This is why nothing should prevent Europe from making progress, certainly not the decision the British have taken, which must be respected and, rather than hindering us, rather than stopping us, must spur us on and give us the essential jolt.
“A strong Europe in a world of uncertainties”
Joint contribution by the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (June 28, 2016)
The decision of the British people marks a watershed moment in the history of Europe. The European Union is losing not only a member state, but a host of history, tradition and experience, with which we shared our journey throughout the past decades. France and Germany therefore take note of this decision with regret. This creates a new situation and will entail consequences both for the United Kingdom and for the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon sets out the procedures for the orderly departure of a Member State (article 50). Once the British Government has activated these procedures, we will stand ready to assist the institutions in the negotiations clarifying the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
The British case is unique. But we must also acknowledge that support and passion for our common project has faded over the last decade in parts of our societies. Neither a simple call for more Europe nor a phase of mere reflection can be an adequate answer. To prevent the silent creeping erosion of our European project we have to be more focused on essentials and on meeting the concrete expectations of our citizens. We are convinced that it is not the existence of the Union that they object to but the way it functions. Our task is twofold: we have to strictly focus our joints efforts on those challenges that can only be addressed by common European answers, while leaving others to national or regional decision making and variation. And we must deliver better on those issues we have chosen to focus on.
France and Germany remain most firmly of the belief that the European Union provides a unique and indispensable framework for the pursuit of freedom, prosperity and security in Europe, for shaping peaceful and mutually beneficial relationships amongst its people and for contributing to peace and stability in the world. Our two countries share a common destiny and a common set of values that provide the foundation for an ever closer union between our peoples. We will therefore move further towards political union in Europe and invite the other Europeans to join us in this endeavor.
France and Germany recognize their responsibility to reinforce solidarity and cohesion within the European Union. To that end, we need to recognize that member states differ in their levels of ambition member state when it comes to the project of European integration. While not stepping back from what we have achieved, we have to find better ways of dealing with different levels of ambition so as to ensure that Europe delivers better on the expectations of all European citizens.
We believe the EU can and needs to develop common answers to today’s challenges abroad and at home. In a context of rising global challenges and opportunities, we see the European Union as more necessary than ever and as the only framework capable of providing appropriate collective answers to the changing international environment. France and Germany will therefore promote a more coherent and a more assertive Europe on the world stage. To deliver better, Europe must focus on today’s main challenges – ensure the security of our citizens confronted with growing external and internal threats; establish a stable cooperative framework for dealing with migration and refugee flows; boost the European economy by promoting convergence and sustainable and job-creating growth and advancing towards the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union.
We are seeing the European Union being severely put to the test. It is challenged by a series of crises in its southern and eastern environment. It is recovering slowly on the path of economic growth. Looking back at the history of the European edifice, we strongly believe in the strength of the EU and its ability to overcome these situations. But something is new in these critical times, namely the perception that these crises jeopardize the very fabric of our societies, our values, our way of life. We see terrorists attempting to spread fear and division in our societies. We have to face increasingly interwoven internal and external challenges. We see the need to preserve the combination of growth, competitiveness and social cohesion which lies at the heart of our European model, while preserving our common values both internally and vis-à-vis the outside world.
We know there are no quick solutions to these very demanding problems. But we are determined to address them, working to deal with current challenges while remaining focused on important long-term issues. In this spirit, we have agreed on the following proposals.
A European Security Compact
The EU has to face a deteriorating security environment and an unprecedented level of threat. External crises have become more numerous, closer to Europe—both east and south of its borders—and more likely to have immediate consequences for European territory and the security of EU citizens. Power politics are back on the world stage and conflict is being imported into our continent. The terrorist threat is growing, feeding on complex networks in and outside Europe and stemming from crisis zones and unstable, war-torn regions all over the world. Europe’s role as a credible force for peace is more important than ever.
The security of EU member states is deeply interconnected, as these threats now affect the continent as a whole: any threat to one member state is also a threat to others. We therefore regard our security as one and indivisible. We consider the European Union and the European security order to be part of our core interests and will safeguard them in any circumstances.
In this context, France and Germany recommit to a shared vision of Europe as a security union, based on solidarity and mutual assistance between member states in support of common security and defense policy. Providing security for Europe as well as contributing to peace and stability globally is at the heart of the European project.
We see the EU as a key power in its neighborhood but also as an actor for peace and stability with global reach. An actor able to make a decisive contribution to tackling global challenges and to support a rules-based international order underpinned by strategic stability, based on a peaceful balance of interests. We have considerable achievements that deserve recognition and can provide inspiration. The historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was only possible because of the EU’s determined and persistent commitment. European engagement in the Minsk process has helped to contain a military confrontation in eastern Ukraine that could have easily spiraled out of control. Our diplomatic efforts have paved the way for a political settlement to the conflict which we will continue to pursue. In Libya, we support the emerging government of national accord endeavoring to address the risks posed by state fragility and instability in the Southern Mediterranean. Beyond the crises, we are convinced that Africa needs also a continuous commitment, being a continent of great challenges and opportunities.
One of the main features of today’s security environment is the interdependence between internal and external security, since the most dangerous and destabilizing risks emanate from the interaction between external threats and internal weaknesses. To respond to this challenge, Germany and France propose a European Security Compact which encompasses all aspects of security and defense dealt with at the European level and thus delivers on the EU’s promise to strengthen security for its citizens.
A first step is to share a common analysis of our strategic environment and common understanding of our interests. France and Germany propose that the EU conduct regular reviews of its strategic environment, to be submitted and discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council and at the European Council. These reviews will be supported by an independent situation assessment capability, based on the EU intelligence and situation center and expertise from outside European institutions, with production of strategic and intelligence analysis approved at European level.
On the basis of this common understanding, the European Union should establish agreed strategic priorities for its foreign and security policy, in accordance with European interests.
The European Union Global Strategy is a first step in that direction. But we need to push further: on a more contested and competitive international scene, France and Germany will promote the EU as an independent and global actor able to leverage its unique array of expertise and tools, civilian and military, in order to defend and promote the interests of its citizens. France and Germany will promote integrated EU foreign and security policy bringing together all EU policy instruments.
The EU will need to take action more often in order to manage crises that directly affect its own security. We therefore need stronger and more flexible crisis prevention and crisis management capabilities.
The EU should be able to plan and conduct civil and military operations more effectively, with the support of a permanent civil-military chain of command. The EU should be able to rely on employable high-readiness forces and provide common financing for its operations. Within the framework of the EU, member states willing to establish permanent structured cooperation in the field of defense or to push ahead to launch operations should be able to do so in a flexible manner. If needed, EU member states should consider establishing standing maritime forces or acquiring EU-owned capabilities in other key areas.
In order to live up to the growing security challenges, Europeans need to step up their defense efforts. European member states should reaffirm and abide by the commitments made collectively on defense budgets and the portion of spending dedicated to the procurement of equipment and to research and technology (RT). Within the EU, France and Germany propose the establishment of a European semester on defence capabilities. Through this process, the EU will support efforts by member states by ensuring the coherence of defense and capability-building processes and encourage member states to discuss the priorities of their respective military spending plans. The establishment of a European defense research program will support an innovative European industry.
The European Union must invest more in preventing conflict, in promoting human security and in stabilizing its neighborhood and regions affected by crisis all over the world. The EU should help its partners and neighbors develop their capacity and governance structures, to strengthen their crisis resilience and their ability to prevent and control emerging crisis as well as terrorist threats. France and Germany will conduct joint initiatives in stabilization, development and reconstruction in Syria and Iraq when the situation allows. Together, France and Germany will strengthen their civilian crisis management tools and reaffirm their commitment to support and sustain political processes of conflict resolution.
In order to ensure our internal security, the immediate challenges are primarily operational. The objectives are to implement and monitor EU decisions and make the best use of existing frameworks: PNR; Europol and its counterterrorism center; the fight against terrorist financing; and EU action plans against trafficking of weapons and explosives. A special emphasis should be put on strengthening transport safety. We want also to increase our dialogue and cooperation with third countries in North Africa, the Sahel strip, the Lake Chad Basin, West Africa, the horn of Africa and the Middle East, as well as regional and sub-regional organizations (African Union, G5).
In order to address the root causes of terrorism, France and Germany will develop a European platform to share experience and best practice in preventing and counteracting radicalization.
In the medium term, we should work towards a more integrated approach for EU internal security, based on the following measures: creation of a European platform for intelligence cooperation, fully respecting national prerogatives and using the current frameworks (e.g. CTG); improvement of data exchange; European contingency planning for major crisis scenarios affecting several member states; creation of a European response capability; establishment of a European civil protection corps.
In the longer term, it would make sense to enlarge the scope of the European public prosecutor’s office in future (currently limited to prosecuting offenses concerning the EU’s financial interests) to include fighting terrorism and organized crime. This would require harmonization of criminal law among the member states.
In order to drive this effort, France and Germany propose that the European Council should meet once a year as a European Security Council, in order to address internal and external security and defense issues facing the EU. This European Security Council should be prepared by a meeting of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Interior Ministers.
Common European asylum and migration policy
Large-scale migration towards Europe will be the key challenge for Europe’s future.
There shall be no unilateral national answers to the migration challenge, which is a truly European challenge of the 21thcentury. Our citizens expect that we firmly regain control on our external borders while preserving our European values. We have to act jointly to live up to this expectation. Germany and France are convinced that it is high time to work towards establishing truly integrated European asylum, refugee and migration policy. Given the urgency of the matter, we should not rule out the possibility of a group of member states that share a sense of common responsibility making progress on common policies.
Securing our external border is no longer exclusively a national task but also a common responsibility. We are determined that the EU should establish the world’s first multinational border and coast guard. In the short term, FRONTEX will be manned by mean of secondments from member states. France and Germany should propose a joint contribution to that end. Over the medium term FRONTEX should be scaled up not only in terms of having its own permanent staff but also with adequate technical equipment to fulfill this task.
We also propose the creation of a European ESTA for visa-exempt third country nationals as a useful instrument to reinforce our borders and security.
It is our common duty to protect those fleeing from war or political persecution. In our efforts we strive to allow refugees to find shelter as close to their homeland as possible.
Asylum seekers reaching Europe have a right to be treated according to the Geneva Convention no matter where they reach our shores. To this end we must further harmonize and simplify our standards and procedures in specific areas. We shall stand ready to grant EU support for the establishment of efficient asylum systems where needed. Over the medium term the European Asylum Office should be transformed into a European Asylum Agency to support this process of standardization and host joint databases to prevent the misuse of differences in standards as well as multiple registrations and discourage secondary movements. This European Asylum Agency would help reinforce convergence in the way applications for international protection are assessed, with due regard to the Dublin basic principles such as the responsibility of the member state of first entry to deal with an asylum application.
Solidarity remains a cornerstone of our European project. Citizens expect that the benefits and burdens of EU membership be evenly shared among member states. A situation in which the burden of migration is unevenly carried by a limited number of member states is unsustainable. As a first step, the Dublin system has to be improved to deal with exceptional circumstances by means of a permanent and binding mechanism which foresees burden sharing among all member states. If necessary, Germany and France stand ready to proceed on this matter with a group of like-minded partners.
The EU must find a common answer to the rising number of migrants seeking to enter the EU for economic reasons. The asylum system is a misleading entry point for them to use. Europe should stay open to what migration and mobility can contribute to our societies in the fields of the economy, culture and diversity. We need to work towards a European Immigration Act that clearly states what the legal options are when it comes to working in Europe, taking into account the different states of national labor markets in the EU. At the same time, we have to improve EU tools and support in the field of return policy, underpinned by EU funds to finance the deportation of those who entered the EU illegally.
In our relations with key countries of origin and transit, we will work to reduce push factors for irregular migration, for example by generating economic and social opportunities, particularly for young people. We expect constructive cooperation in crucial fields such as return and readmission, border management and control and the fight against migrant smuggling. Germany and France have already held high-level migration dialogues with a number of African states on behalf of the EU and will extend this dialogue to other countries. Root causes of migration, such as poverty, lack of security and political instability should also be addressed by the EU.
Finally, hosting and, in some cases, integrating refugees and migrants poses a challenge to all European societies that must be dealt with in a spirit of responsibility and solidarity. Germany and France do not share the same historical experience of immigration and integration but are committed to learning from each other. Through dialogue, exchange and cooperation, we intend to foster a more objective debate about the challenges and opportunities of immigration and integration for our societies. We hope thus to use the lessons we have learned to benefit other European states that are confronted with similar challenges.
Fostering growth and completing the Economic and Monetary Union
To this day, our common currency constitutes the most visible and ambitious undertaking of European unification. The euro has helped protect its member states from international speculation and contributed to building a common economic area. The euro reflects our commitment to the irreversibility of European integration.
However, we must admit that the crisis and its aftermath have shown up deficiencies that make citizens question whether the common currency delivers on its promises and even casts doubt on the sustainability of the project itself. We therefore intend to proceed on three fronts simultaneously: strengthening economic convergence, enhancing social justice and democratic accountability and improving shock resistance to safeguard the irreversibility of the euro. France and Germany have always seen it as their major responsibility to build a robust Eurozone able to assert its model in a more and more competitive world.
We believe we urgently need to revive this spirit to carry the debate forward. And it is the responsibility of our two countries to bilaterally proceed beyond that. We have to acknowledge that the requirements of membership and the fiscal implications stemming from the common currency have been higher than one could have expected when the euro was founded. We must therefore respect the wish of others to decide on their own when to join the euro.
To overcome the crisis, the euro area has to enter into a renewed phase of economic convergence. To this end, France and Germany will shoulder the main responsibility of organizing a process of economic convergence and political governance which balances obligations and solidarity to accompany the process. Surplus and deficit countries will have to move, as a one-sided alignment is politically unfeasible.
Growth potential has been severely hampered by the crisis. Europe urgently needs to unlock the untapped potential inherent in the completion of the single market in specific sectors of strategic interest. France and Germany remain committed to bilateral initiatives to rapidly harmonies regulation and oversight as well as corporate tax schemes. To unlock growth and to increase the productivity of the European economy, a renewed effort for more investment, both private and public, is necessary. France and Germany reiterate their commitment to structural reforms to attract international investment and to further enhance the competitiveness of their economies.
In that respect, specific initiatives should be taken in order to foster growth and convergence between member states in strategic sectors such as energy, the digital sector, research and innovation or professional training. In the short term, common targets could be set, linked to regulatory objectives and investment means based on the amplification of the European Fund for Strategic Investment. Over the medium term, those strategic sectors should evolve towards a common regulatory framework and even a shared supervisory authority, and benefit from a structured European investment capability to foster convergence through cross-border investment. Bilateral initiatives by Germany and France should be undertaken within that framework.
The current architecture of the euro is not sufficiently resilient to external shocks or internal imbalances. Leaving the EMU incomplete jeopardizes the survival of our common currency in the long term. Completing the EMU will involve the continuous intensification of political governance as well as fiscal burden sharing. In light of existing imbalances a deepening of the EMU will not come as a big bang but as the result of a pragmatic and gradual evolution taking into account the necessary results in terms of growth and employment. These results are indispensable to reinforce confidence in the European Union among member states and citizens and create the appropriate political conditions for new steps of integration towards completing the EMU.
We should acknowledge that EMU member states share different traditions of economic policy making, which have to be balanced out for the euro to function properly. A future architecture of the euro will neither be solely rules based nor prone to mere political decision making nor will it be steered exclusively by market forces. Every step in deepening the EMU will encompass all of these aspects.
Since economic policy-making in the EMU is increasingly a domain of shared decisions, citizens rightly expect to regain control via supranational institutions accountable to them. In the short term a full time president of the Eurogroup should be accountable to a Eurozone subcommittee in the European Parliament. In the longer term, the Eurogroup and its president should be accountable to a parliamentary body comprising members of the European Parliament with the participation of members of national parliaments. This chamber should have full authority on any matters regarding fiscal and macroeconomic oversight.
In this context we should develop the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a fully-fledged European Monetary Fund subject to parliamentary control.
A fiscal capacity—a common feature of any successful monetary union around the globe—remains a missing keystone in the EMU architecture. In the long run it should provide macroeconomic stabilization at the eurozone level while avoiding permanent unidirectional transfers. Whereas these capabilities should be built up over time and in line with progress on common decision making regarding fiscal and economic policy, it should start by 2018 at the latest to support investment in the member states most severely hit by the crisis. Germany and France should form a group prepared to lead on this matter.
Public support for the euro is undermined by a lack of progress on its social dimension and fair taxation among its member states. Hence, as a general principle, any step to further deepen the EMU should be accompanied by progress in the field of common taxation, in particular with regard to transnational corporations, as well as the development of a social union underpinned by common social minimum standards.
Joint Statement by French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian President Matteo Renzi
Berlin - June 27, 2016
On June 23, 2016, a majority of the British people expressed the wish to leave the European Union. France, Germany and Italy respect this decision. We regret that the United Kingdom will no longer be our partner within the European Union.
We have full confidence that the European Union is strong enough to provide the proper responses to this situation. There is no time to lose.
Today, we express our strong commitment to European unity. We are fully convinced that the European Union is vital to making our countries stronger by enabling us to act together, in conjunction with our common institutions, to guarantee our peoples’ economic and social progress and to assert Europe’s role in the world.
For nearly 60 years, the European Union has constituted a unique community of laws, freedoms, and shared values. It allows us to safeguard our European social model, which combines economic success with social protections. It enables us to preserve cultural diversity. The single market, our common policies, and the euro have no equivalent anywhere else in the world. These achievements are the cornerstone of our prosperity. Together we defend our interests and free and fair trade in the world. Together we move forward with our energy policy, and together we help protect the climate at the global level. Together we contribute to stability and development worldwide and promote freedom.
We are just as strongly convinced that the European Union can keep moving forward only if it continues to enjoy the support of its citizens.
For that to happen, the European Union must respond to the concerns expressed by its people by clarifying its objectives and its modes of operation. It should be stronger in championing its key priorities, when Europeans must join forces, and take a back seat when its member states are better positioned to act. It must remain under the democratic control of its citizens and must be easier to understand. It must act more swiftly, particularly to implement the programs and projects that directly benefit its citizens.
In a changing world, the European Union should preserve its essential achievements and focus on the challenges facing Europeans today, such as global migrations and new threats – particularly that of international terrorism, which no member state can effectively face alone. It must also strengthen the Europeans’ ability to respond to growing international competition while strengthening the European market’s social economy.
Consequently, we propose three essential priorities for strengthened, expanded action, based on concrete objectives:
- internal and external security: Europe is facing enormous challenges. They make it necessary to work together more closely to protect our external borders and contribute to peace and stability in our neighborhood, particularly in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East.
We will win the fight against terrorism in Europe only if we act in a united fashion. Terrorism will be defeated only if we show that we are able to rebuild a sense of community, investing in our cities and opposing social marginalization.
We will live up to our responsibilities if we expand our European defense and undertake the commitments required for our joint operations and for our military industry and capacities. The potential for a real common foreign, security and defense policy has not yet been fully exploited.
- a strong economy and strong social cohesion: Europe must deliver on its promise to ensure prosperity for its citizens. We need greater growth in order to combat unemployment and create jobs, especially for young people and more investment in order to ensure the strength of our economies in global competition.
The success of the European economic and social model, which combines economic strength with social protection, is dependent upon the definition of an appropriate regulatory framework; better policies for entrepreneurship and the participation of everyone in the labor force; strengthened research, innovation and training, which play a key role because Europe’s wealth is primarily based on the expertise and abilities of its citizens; development of the digital economy in Europe to provide improved services, modern industry and jobs; full exploitation of the potential offered by energy and climate polices that protect the environment.
For the countries that share the euro, further stages will be needed in order to promote growth, competitiveness, employment and convergence, including in the social and fiscal spheres.
- ambitious programs for young people: Europe will succeed only if it gives its young people hope. We must strengthen the European initiatives relating to training, entrepreneurship and access to jobs throughout Europe, such as the Youth Employment Initiative and the Erasmus program for students, apprentices and young professionals.
The EU represents our shared values: we are committed to peace and freedom, democracy and the rule of law, mutual respect and accountability, tolerance and participation, justice and solidarity. It is now time to reaffirm these values.
Tomorrow we will propose to the heads of state and government and European institutions that we launch a process that will take place according to a strict timetable and a specific set of commitments, in order to respond to the challenges posed by the result of the British referendum and to formulate concrete solutions that will ensure a good future for Europeans within the EU.
A special meeting of the leaders in September will be devoted to the common challenges facing the 27 member states and to the key priorities on which they must decide. They should also agree on the concrete projects to be carried out in Europe over the next six months to ensure growth and security. The work should start immediately in order to develop the necessary initiatives. Key international figures could contribute to the discussions on the prospects for Europe in a global context.
The meetings of the European Council in October 2016 and December 2016 should review the progress made to this end and provide the necessary guidance.
The 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 2017, will be a key moment in terms of reaffirming Europe’s unity and our shared commitment to the European project.
Joint statement issued by the French, German, Belgian, Italian, Luxembourg and Dutch foreign ministers
Berlin - June 25, 2016
The Foreign Ministers of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands take note with regret of the fact that the British people have spoken out against EU membership. The decision of the British people marks a watershed moment in the history of Europe. The European Union is losing not only a member state, but a host of history, tradition and experience.
This creates a new situation. As a consequence of the decision of the British people, the agreement the European Council had found on 18/19 February ceases to exist. We now expect the UK government to provide clarity and give effect to this decision as soon as possible. The relevant provisions of the Lisbon Treaty (Article 50 TEU) provide for an orderly departure. We stand ready to work with the institutions once the negotiations in order to define and clarify the future relations between the EU and the UK will start.
We remain of the firmest belief that the European Union provides a historically unique and indispensable framework for the pursuit of freedom, prosperity and security in Europe, for shaping peaceful and mutually beneficial relationships amongst its people and for contributing to peace and stability in the world.
Since its creation in 1957 by the six founding Members, the EU has gone a long and successful way. It has reunited Eastern and Western Europe and it has brought about the longest period of peace on our continent in modern times. Moreover, it has been a driving force to bring the people of Europe together and thereby delivered on its promise that we have committed ourselves to in the treaties: to create an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe. We will continue in our efforts to work for a stronger and more cohesive European Union of 27 based on common values and the rule of law.
It is to that end that we shall also recognize different levels of ambition amongst member states when it comes to the project of European integration. While not stepping back from what we have achieved, we have to find better ways of dealing with these different levels of ambition so as to ensure that Europe delivers better on the expectations of all European citizens.
It is in this light that we strongly reaffirm our joint commitment to the European Union. However, we are aware that discontent with the functioning of the EU as it is today is manifest in parts of our societies.
We take this very seriously and are determined to make the EU work better for all our citizens. Neither a simple call for more Europe nor a phase of mere reflection can be an adequate answer. We have to focus our common efforts on those challenges which can only be addressed by common European answers, while leaving other tasks to national or regional levels. We must better deliver on those issues that we have chosen to tackle on the European level. And we must accept our responsibility to reinforce solidarity and cohesion within the European Union.
Today, Europe is faced with huge challenges in a globalized world that require a better European Union. We must further concentrate the EU’s activities in today’s main challenges: ensuring the security of our citizens in the face of growing external and internal threats; establishing a stable and cooperative framework to deal with migration and refugee flows; boost the European economy through promoting the convergence of our economies, a sustainable and job-creating growth and advancing towards the completion of the European Monetary Union. These challenges take place against a backdrop of growing instability and geopolitical changes at our European borders.
We express our confidence in our common European future.
"France will therefore be leading efforts to ensure Europe focuses on the most important issues"
Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
The British people have decided by referendum to leave the European Union. This is a painful choice that I deeply regret, for the United Kingdom and for Europe. But it is their choice and we must respect that, taking on board all its consequences.
The United Kingdom will no longer be part of the European Union and the procedures set down in the treaties will be implemented quickly—that is the rule, and the consequence.
France, for both its own sake and that of the UK, will continue to work with this great friend, with which we are bound by so many historical and geographical ties in economic, human and cultural terms, not to mention our close relations in the defense sector, which will be preserved.
The British vote is a great test for Europe. In these circumstances, it needs to show its solidity and strength, finding the right answers to control the economic and financial risks attached to the United Kingdom’s departure. Steps have already been taken, and I am confident in their effectiveness.
But Britain’s decision also requires us to clearly acknowledge the weaknesses in the way Europe functions and the loss of peoples’ confidence in the European project.
There is a great danger of extremism and populism. It always takes less time to dismantle than to assemble, or to destroy than to build. France, as a founding country of Europe, will not accept that.
We have to take heed. To move forward, Europe can no longer do as it has in the past. The peoples expect the European Union to reaffirm its values of freedom, tolerance and peace. Europe needs to be a sovereign power deciding its own future and promoting its model.
France will therefore be leading efforts to ensure Europe focuses on the most important issues: the security and defense of our continent, to protect our borders and preserve peace in the face of threats; investment in growth and jobs, to implement industrial policies in the sector of new technologies and the energy transition; tax and social harmonization to set down rules for our economies and safeguards for our citizens; and a strengthening of the eurozone and its democratic governance.
I am convinced that Europe needs to promote projects, and not be caught up in procedures. It needs to be understood and overseen by citizens. It needs to make rapid decisions where it is expected to, and once and for all leave up to nation states their own competences.
That is the mandate I will promote at the European Council meeting on Tuesday. Beforehand, I will meet with the leaders of France’s major political parties. I will also visit Berlin on Monday, in order to discuss what has to be done—particularly for the preparation of this Council meeting—with Federal Chancellor Merkel and, no doubt, Matteo Renzi, President of the Italian Council of Ministers. Germany, because the cohesion of the whole European Union depends on our unity. Europe is a great ideal and not just a great market. And if it has lost its way, it is no doubt because that has been forgotten.
Europe needs to remain a source of hope for young people, as their horizon. Today, history is on our doorstep. We have a choice between a weakening of Europe, at the risk of turning inwards, or a reaffirmation of its existence, at the cost of deep changes.
I will do my utmost to ensure we choose deep change and not a turning inwards. France has a special responsibility because it is at the center of Europe, because it wanted Europe, because it has built Europe, and because it is the country that can lead others and guarantee the future of our continent.
As a Frenchman and a European, this is my firm belief, and it is what will guide me in the running of our country at such a decisive time. We know that history is our judge today, as it has caught up with us. We must be equal to the situation we are facing.
"It’s time to radically reform, reinvent another Europe, by listening to the people"
Statement by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister
This decision by British voters is a seismic shock. It’s caused an explosion on a continental and global scale.
But it’s also the British people’s free, sovereign decision. Above all, we mustn’t deny or scorn it. We must respect it, although clearly we must draw every conclusion from it.
The United Kingdom will leave the European Union. I strongly believe this departure upsets certainties and established plans and demands a collective response commensurate with what’s happened.
The decision also, no doubt, reveals a malaise ignored for too long. For too long we’ve closed our eyes to the warnings and doubts expressed by European people… and this is where we are.
I’ve often been criticized recently for speaking rather seriously, because I’ve said history can be tragic: the terrorist threat, terrorist acts, which have struck Europe; the migration crisis, with its succession of tragedies; the rise of the far right on our continent, which would be turning its back on its founding values.
We can see how impossible it is for us to continue as before. Indeed, the risk is quite simply of a dislocation of Europe; and for our nations, dismantling Europe – this Europe that was build for peace and prosperity – means growing considerably weaker.
So it’s time to be worthy of our founding fathers. It’s time to radically reform, reinvent another Europe, by listening to the people. And Europe can’t exist without the people’s voice.
Europe must no longer intervene everywhere, all the time. It must act where it is effective, where it is expected, whilst of course asserting our identity, ensuring security and control of our borders, and defending our economic interests.
I’m deeply patriotic; I love my country, France. I believe in this unique nation. And I’m also fully European, through my roots, origins and beliefs. Yes, the European project must be rebuilt by answering these questions: what type of project, values, identity and borders?
This is how we shall restore faith in Europe. And this is how our fellow citizens will regain full ownership of the European project. And it is in the very name of these European beliefs that I think we can make it a success, because there has to be hope in the European project.
"Facing up means preserving the unity of Europe"
Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
It was important for me to be here this morning with my fellow Foreign Ministers and Ministers of State for European Affairs.
We are sad, but the British people have made their choice and we must respect it. We are sad for the United Kingdom and sad for Europe.
But we must face up to this situation, and facing up means preserving the unity of Europe, continuing to implement its priorities, while being even more mindful of the aspirations of the people throughout Europe.
So there is a lot of work ahead.
But what is important today is to respect the vote of the British people. I say this because some think that we are in a state of chaos. I can say that no, there is no chaos, because we have treaties. And Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the conditions for withdrawal from the EU. So there must be no uncertainty. The British government must announce the official decision of the British people and we must start implementing this Article, for the cohesion and stability of both Europe and the United Kingdom. This must be done as a matter of urgency. There is no time to lose. Any period of uncertainty would be detrimental.
So these are the issues which we will discuss today. We will make another statement later.