Official speeches and statements - May 24, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Prime Minister, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Minister delegate for European Affairs and I wanted to come here this afternoon, alongside the Ambassador at the British Embassy in Paris, to sign the visitors’ book and thus express our full support and our condolences to the British people.
Following last night’s attack in Manchester, the whole of Europe, free Europe, has been attacked; Europe and Britain’s young people have been struck at their heart. I had the opportunity to speak to Theresa May a few hours ago, and I expressed these feelings to her. So above all we wanted to express these condolences, this feeling of solidarity and this full support this afternoon. We’re also determined to strengthen European cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The coming hours will tell us the identity and background of the terrorist, or terrorists if it’s proven that accomplices were present. We’ll be determined and resolute alongside all our European partners to combat terrorism everywhere on our continent. Many things have already been done, our cooperation in the area is exemplary, but we’ll continue at all times to strengthen this cooperation through deeds.
Finally, I want to recall here that the government is fully mobilized in the fight against terrorism. As early as last week, I held a Defense Council after the first Council of Ministers, so that all the various situations can be monitored.
Tomorrow, we’re holding another Defense Council, which will allow us to make progress on the creation of an anti-Daesh [so-called ISIL] task force, on greater coordination between our intelligence services and an increase in the resources already being deployed.
So you can rest assured—going well beyond this feeling of solidarity—that France is determined to go even further when it comes to European cooperation and determined to go even further when it comes to the security and protection of all our nationals. What happened yesterday in Manchester showed us once again that terrorists have a target—the free world, young people—and that every one of us has a profound shared destiny in this.
Thank you, Ambassador.
Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble, German Minister of Finance, and M. Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, met in Berlin on May 22, a week after the meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two ministers agreed that Germany and France have a crucial role to play in strengthening the European Union, which is currently facing many challenges. They agreed to help restore confidence in the European Union by putting emphasis on concrete, ambitious projects with genuine European added value which should demonstrate that the EU can provide responses to citizens’ concerns amid growing globalization.
They share the analysis that confidence and integration are equally decisive for a more prosperous Monetary Union, which, despite the all-important progress made in recent years, still suffers from an incomplete economic structure. Implementing the common fiscal framework and, in some countries, dealing with the weaknesses of certain banks are crucial to restoring confidence.
The ministers discussed a large number of issues and expressed their intention to work closely together on them. They agreed that the EU internal market—with almost 500 million consumers and very many competitive businesses, often SMEs—requires a new boost in order to achieve its maximum potential in terms of employment and growth.
For the Euro Area, although the recovery is growing stronger, not all member states have fully got over the recent crisis yet, and the Euro Area is still experiencing economic weaknesses, with major macroeconomic imbalances, sluggish underlying inflation and significant financial fragmentation. In order to achieve genuine economic convergence, the ministers agreed that increased coordination and integration of economic policies are necessary. To this end, the completion of banking union in accordance with the road map decided on by the Ecofin of June 2016 must be a priority.
To strengthen Euro Area integration, several issues related to economic policies must be dealt with: national reform policies must be stepped up, high levels of public and private debt and macroeconomic imbalances must be reduced, and a convergence of corporation taxes should be encouraged.
The ministers decided to set up a Franco-German working group, which they will lead and which will examine these issues and make proposals. They also agreed to intensify relations between their respective ministries, in order to set out common positions on key European issues. The Franco-German working group will propose an ambitious road map which the ministers will be able to endorse when they meet again at the Franco-German Economic and Financial Council, ahead of the Franco-German Council of Ministers. They also planned to develop bilateral initiatives that can prefigure broader European policies in future. This may involve consulting national industrial businesses in order to strengthen Franco-German industrial cooperation.
Bruno Le Maire and Wolfgang Schäuble are both convinced that close cooperation between France and Germany is necessary. They reaffirm their commitment to excellent relations between the two countries and to the European project. Following their meeting, they went to Brussels together to take part in the May meetings of the Eurogroup and the Ecofin Council.
3. European Union - Germany - Statements by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at his joint press conference with Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, German Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs (Berlin - May 22, 2017)
Thank you, Sigmar. I’m very pleased to be in Berlin paying my first bilateral visit since I took office as France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Given [our] major partnerships, it seemed to me essential and desirable to come here for this first visit and meet you. But admittedly it’s not my first visit to Berlin.
I had many opportunities to come here as defense minister—which I was for five years—and meet both Mr. Thomas de Maizière and Ms Ursula von der Leyen not long ago, right here in Berlin. We had a very productive partnership in that specific field. For me, another chapter is now being written in the new political period in France, with President Macron’s arrival. The support he obtained in the presidential election will strengthen our partnership even further and make us face our shared responsibility for [promoting] the need for Europe even more. The role we’re both going to have will, I think, be very decisive. In the immediate future, we’re going to try and implement, as far as possible, the boost given by the Chancellor and President Macron at their meeting last week on a Europe that both protects and invests. And I’m convinced that we’ll have an absolutely exceptional relationship in this new framework we’ve been set.
I’d also like to say that we had a very fruitful discussion about the crises in the world, this unstable world on which we have strong common stances. We were also able to note qualitative progress in our work together in the Sahel, in Africa, and in our shared desire to ensure that the continent benefits from both security and development. We noted our shared determination to make headway in this area, and I wanted to tell you that I’d really like close Franco-German cooperation to continue on all the major international crises we discussed earlier.
The subjects on which our dialogue must continue include, in particular, defense and security issues, because the forthcoming meeting of NATO heads of state and government in Brussels on Thursday will provide an opportunity to remind people of Europe’s involvement in the Alliance. Moreover, we must continue, unstintingly and tenaciously, our efforts in the Normandy format to resolve the Ukraine crisis. In any case, our first meeting went ahead in an atmosphere of great trust and great determination on the goals we share.