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Official speeches and statements - January 18, 2017

Published on January 18, 2017
1. European Union - United States - Reply by M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Prime Minister, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - January 17, 2017)

1. European Union - United States - Reply by M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Prime Minister, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - January 17, 2017)

When what’s essential is at stake—i.e. peace, solidarity and adherence to the principles of fraternity and freedom, to which we subscribe with the American people—we must take a hard look at history and tell those who express views drawing inspiration from populism that what inspired the European Union’s founding fathers, after Europe was torn apart by totalitarianism and war, was a love of those values which we were able to uphold after the Second World War, precisely because thousands of American soldiers with a great love of freedom landed in Normandy, on our country’s soil, Europe’s soil, to defend with us these eternal values, extremely strong values which, whatever may be said—sometimes rashly—bind us to the American people in an indestructible way.

I also want to remind you that because of the EU founding fathers’ project, which all EU leaders have perpetuated for several decades now, the best and only way we must respond is with the European project itself. Because we’re in an unstable, dangerous world and are all threatened by terrorism, we have a special duty in Europe to be capable of powerfully defending our continent for the sake of our values, which bind us to the American people.

This means there must be European defence, with European resources, European investment and a European projection capability, which will make the EU and its constituent peoples and nations independent, because it’s by being independent of powerful countries that Europe can affirm its principles, values and identity and continue a balanced dialogue with friendly peoples.

We’ve also got to ensure that our external borders are protected, which we’ve started to do by making Frontex more powerful, giving it a euro250 million budget, creating the conditions for EU external border checks and allowing it to consult the Schengen Information System to guarantee that those entering Europe don’t present a danger to the continent’s security. With interconnected databases and the fight against firearms, this is all part of a project France and Germany have made progress on together during this five-year term which has allowed us to amend the Schengen Borders Code, more specifically its Article 7-2, to allow checks to be carried out on all those crossing the EU’s external borders, including our nationals.

We must also be capable of protecting our European social model. When free-trade treaties propose the introduction into top-notch European industries of real social dumping that would destroy Europe’s social model, industry and economy, we must be able—as our country did on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP—to say no, including to the United States, when we believe such treaties would create imbalances that could damage the integrity of the European economy and its social model.

We must also be capable of making our voice heard with regard to the Youth Guarantee, the European minimum wage and the fight against the posting of workers, which is a priority goal for the government and enabled us to modify the 2014 directive, embark now robustly on a modification of the 1996 directive and engage in national legislative discussions to fight against the posting of workers. We must be capable of protecting our social model and saying so powerfully.

The sole strength of European discourse in the face of populism lies in expressing faith in Europe’s future, being able to develop policies to create greater solidarity, more projects and more investment—that’s the purpose of the Juncker Plan—and, in response to those sinking into populism, saying that Europe and the values of the Republic are stronger than momentary bursts of anger.

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