Official speeches and statements - July 27, 2017
I believe that the cause of peace in Libya has made great progress today, and I really want to thank you for the work done—thank the Chairman of the Presidential Council, His Excellency Fayez Sarraj, and the Commander of the Libyan National Army, His Excellency General Khalifa Haftar, who have today adopted the joint declaration which has just been read to you and which marks out the path, the road map for national reconciliation in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s very next Special Representative for Libya, Mr Ghassan Salamé, whom I welcome alongside us today.
I profoundly believe that there’s nothing inevitable about civil war and that, through dialogue, peace can prevail. That’s what today’s stage serves to demonstrate in reality and what I’d like to thank you for. It’s what I believe we’ve helped to do today for the Libyan people, for stability in the region and for the success of the implacable battle we’re fighting against terrorism.
On 17 December 2015, a historic agreement was signed in Skhirat under the aegis of United Nations mediation, and since then many obstacles have prevented it from being fully implemented, despite the efforts made by all Libya’s friends and by Libyans of goodwill. This has caused great suffering for the Libyan people, increasingly dangerous attacks by Daesh [so-called ISIL] in Libya itself and against Tunisia, with the risk of Libya becoming a haven for terrorist organizations. And I sincerely hope that this violence, these divisions, this hatred can now be consigned to the past.
Significant military successes have been achieved under your authorities against terrorist groups, in Benghazi thanks to the Libyan National Army and in Sirte thanks to the action of Operation al-Bunyan al-Marsous, and I pay tribute to all those combatants. And at the same time, by establishing himself again in Tripoli, the Chairman of the Presidential Council, Mr Sarraj, has done everything to start building a Libyan state with effective and respected institutions. But political and military rivalries are threatening to annihilate these efforts. And it was in this context that a new boost was necessary.
Here I want to commend the action of the United Nations Secretary-General’s previous Special Representative, Mr Martin Kobler, who worked for a year to persuade the various parties to implement the Skhirat agreement, and here I want to commend the work done by the European Union, especially by Italy and my friend Paolo Gentiloni—who worked hard too and with whom we had many discussions to prepare for today’s declaration—, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and the African Union, which have taken many initiatives, pursuing the same goal, which we’ve just endorsed today in this joint declaration, i.e. that of reconciliation and peace.
Today, Chairman Sarraj and General Haftar can become the symbols of national unity and of a commitment to reconciliation and peace. And I want to tell you very solemnly that your courage today in being here and agreeing to this joint declaration is historic. It’s that of taking the risk, despite any differences you had, despite the actions of various parties, to work together in a process of national reconciliation and of building long-term peace.
During this meeting, you’ve pledged to give up the armed struggle—except, of course, against terrorist groups. And so what’s been endorsed in the declaration that has just been read is a process, firstly of a ceasefire—clearly essential for any progress—, an agreement to move towards an electoral process in the spring, obviously in the current framework of the Skhirat agreement, and work on an inclusive political reconciliation aimed at giving a role to all those political groups which intend to amend the Skhirat agreement in the long term and build the constitutional framework that can arise from the electoral process.
It’s through this road map that peace and national reconciliation can be built. The challenges of this reconciliation are huge. They’re huge for the Libyan people, who, for several years, have experienced suffering, destabilization and the terrorist threat. They’re considerable for the whole region, because if Libya fails, the whole region will fail with it, and particularly the adjacent countries. And it’s a process which is essential for the whole of Europe, because unless we succeed in this process, the consequences on our countries are direct, because of the terrorist risks and migratory consequences that such a failure would bring about.
The process will make it possible to build this reconciliation and fight even more effectively against terrorism and trafficking, because the two are linked throughout the region. Eradicating the arms trafficking which fuels terrorist groups, which is directly linked to the situation of destabilization we’re seeing in the Sahel and which our soldiers must combat with [Operation] Barkhane. Eradicating the human trafficking which fuels migration routes and had led to several hundred thousand migrants being in Libya, which deeply destabilizes the country, destabilizes Europe and fuels the trafficking whose only beneficiaries today are the terrorist movements themselves. Finally, as we know, it’s financial trafficking that underpins the terrorists’ activities throughout the region, whether it be finance linked to oil activities or any other finance—whatever form it takes—enabling terrorists to remain active in the region.
We share and will always share the determination you have today. I’ll do everything to support your efforts, both in this reconciliation process and in effectively combating all those terrorist groupings, be they from outside Libya, on Libyan territory or exploiting the Libya situation in to our own countries.
What’s happening in Libya today is, in a way, at the epicentre of a multifaceted destabilization. This destabilization is produced by the terrorists of Daesh, al-Qaeda and many other movements acting in the Middle East and the rest of Africa. They should be eradicated from Libyan territory, and you should be helped with this. Secondly, in order to thrive, those movements also seek to profit from the political destabilization and the economic and financial windfalls that may exist in Libya. There again, we’ll take resolute action to halt this trend.
The European Union and our main European partners are fully in agreement with the initiative being taken here. (...)
A lot has just been done, but a lot remains to be done, and we discussed at length and in detail the political process you’ll have to lead, the security process to halt this trafficking from outside Libya or on the Libyan coast and make the whole of Libyan territory secure, and also the work of economic reconciliation that will enable your government to take effective action for the benefit of the Libyan people while not being defrauded by particular interest groups.
It’s now up to the United Nations Secretary-General’s next Special Representative for Libya, Mr Ghassan Salamé—whose presence is very important—to help all the protagonists over the coming months, to ensure that the Skhirat agreement bears all its fruit, including the adoption of a constitution and the organization of elections. Along with its partners in the European Union, the Security Council and the region, particularly the Arab League and African Union, France will remain fully active and committed to a peace which is also, for us, a national, regional and international security imperative.
I have to tell you, the Libyan people deserve this peace, we owe it to them and the Mediterranean needs it. I therefore thank Chairman Fayez Sarraj and General Khalifa Haftar for the promise you’ve made to us today and for your commitment, and I also want to assure you of our full commitment alongside you.
2. European Union - European project - Brexit - Europe of security and defense - Fight against terrorism - Migration - Trade policy - Preliminary statements by Mme Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, at her hearing before the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee - excerpts (Paris - July 25, 2017)
The French President, as you’ve said, has committed himself to a Europe which is proud of itself, dares to take on the driving role incumbent upon it in many areas, from the economy to the climate, and shows ambition. He campaigned, and the deputies who make up his majority campaigned, on the basis of a very strong European belief: that the major challenges we face require a continent-wide response. Contrary to what people usually think or say, the European Union is not the problem but, quite the reverse, the solution to the significant issues we’re facing. (...)
However, while the desire for Europe has prevailed, let’s not bury our heads in the sand. (...) To many people Europe seems distant, incomprehensible, cut off from reality and over-bureaucratic. (...) For too long, successive governments have grown accustomed to blaming European institutions for their difficulties and disappointments. This attitude is unworthy, because we’re active in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. It’s unworthy because it consists in approving the direction Europe is taking only when it makes us think of a greater France. Yet the European Union is a culture: that of the compromise which strengthens us all, not a conflict which creates losers and winners. (...)
A Europe that protects means, first of all, a Europe that ensures its peoples’ security. No member state today can consider itself safe from the terrorist threat. (...) But while the response to the threat is partly national, its European dimension deserves to be strengthened. (...) I’m thinking in particular of the European PNR (Passenger Name Record), which must be transposed in all the member states before May 2018 and will be fully effective only if all the member states fully enforce the controls planned. (...) We must also go the full mile on projects as important as the Smart Borders Package. (...) The challenge is to control our borders more effectively, in order to better control departures from and arrivals at problematic destinations and better monitor the possible return of jihadists to our soil. We must also go further by combating the use of the Internet by terrorist networks. (...) We’re expecting the Commission, in line with the guidelines of the European Council of 22 and 23 June, to quickly put legislative proposals on the Council’s table. (...)
TRADE / LABOR
A Europe that protects is a Europe that allows regulated globalization. This applies in particular when it comes to trade, where the EU is the right level for action. (...) Let’s make no mistake, there are only three possible options: either we opt for an illusory and deadly protectionism that would seriously jeopardize our producers’ interests in every sector; or we open up our markets to all comers, without regulation, and that would be the law of the jungle; or we negotiate agreements that organize and regulate our trade, confident in the strength of our businesses but also without being naïve.
The European Union has embarked on this last path, and I believe the latest negotiations are a good illustration of the balance that can be achieved. Let’s take the trade agreement with Canada, CETA, as an example: I read and hear a lot of untruths about it. On the first day the agreement provisionally comes into force, the elimination of Canadian customs tariffs will be translated into savings of euro400 million for our exporters. Moreover, for the first time Canada has agreed to protect designations of origin, and everyone is aware of their importance for our country.
The same is true of the agreement in principle recently reached between Japan and the European Union: thanks to this agreement, our businesses will be able to compete freely to secure procurement contracts, without being discriminated against in any way. (...)
Of course, because of the benefits we’re expecting from these agreements, we must demand that they be negotiated without any kind of naivety: opening up markets must be reciprocal, whether this involves the movement of goods or access to procurement contracts, and dumping must be combated. We must also redouble our vigilance when it comes to foreign investment in strategic sectors. (...)
This must be done with clarity. The European Union’s trade policy must become more transparent. (...) This involves publication of the Council’s negotiating mandates and regular, high-quality information. (...)
The Europe that protects is the Europe that combats social dumping effectively. (...) We’ve identified specific expectations relating to the remuneration of posted workers—in accordance with the principle of «equal salaries for equal jobs in the same country»—, to the fight against fraud, to time limits on periods of posting and to the link with regulation on road transport. (...) Our action is driven by a deeply European ambition: namely, an upward social convergence that will benefit everyone. (...)
A Europe that protects is also a Europe that shows more responsibility and solidarity in the face of the migration crisis it’s going through. (...) Several structural reforms are currently under discussion, particularly on the European asylum system. Negotiations on the revision of the Dublin Regulation, which determines the member state responsible for processing an asylum application, are continuing. (...) We must step up our dialogue with the migrants’ countries of origin and transit. (...)
It’s also essential for us to honor our commitments to the front-line European countries, Greece and Italy, particularly on the refugee relocation we pledged. (...) Our policy is based not only on a recognition of the right of asylum as an inviolable principle for people in need of protection, whom we must take in under the best conditions, but also on a determination to combat illegal economic migration more effectively. We must step up our efforts with the countries of origin and transit. (...) We’re working to increase Frontex’s resources in order to manage the external borders better. We must also combat people-smugglers more effectively. (...)
In the face of multiple threats, the EU must also assert itself more beyond its borders. France will therefore be playing its full role in helping build a Europe of security and defense. Our goal, as you know, is strategic autonomy for the EU. (...) The European Union must be able to strengthen itself in these fields, without this threatening NATO in any way. (...)
The latest European Council enabled significant progress. Firstly because it decided on the creation of a genuine European Defense Fund, which will make it possible to finance defense research and capability programs. (...) But also when it comes to ascertaining better the European Union’s gaps in capability and be able to fill them, through the Coordinated Annual Review on Defense (CARD), which is set to become the special framework for drawing up new European capability cooperation projects, with support, if necessary, from the European Defense Fund. (...) We then laid down the principle of Permanent Structured Cooperation on defense, i.e. a stronger set of commitments in terms of expenditure, capabilities and external missions. (...) We’ll be ensuring in particular that additional mechanisms for sharing the cost of the European Union’s military operations are provided for. (...)
Finally, we’d like the revision of the regulation on the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace to be adopted swiftly, in order to strengthen the security and defense capabilities of the European Union’s partners, particularly African states. (...)
I come now to cross-cutting, defining negotiations which will have an impact on most of the European Union’s policies. I’ll obviously begin with the negotiations on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. (...) He [Michel Barnier] is negotiating on behalf of the whole European Union, reporting back to the Council, at technical level and to the ministers, indeed to the European Council, and has our complete confidence—I want to say that clearly here.
In this context, I’d like to stress the importance of Europeans’ unity when it comes to the two phases defined by the European Council on 29 April 2017 and accepted by the British: we’ve got to start by concentrating on the essential issues relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, i.e. the rights of citizens on both sides, the issues of borders and the methods of calculating the financial settlement for the UK’s departure. It’s only in a second phase, when sufficient progress has been noted—if all goes well, in the autumn—, that other subjects will be broached and the negotiator will be able to start talking about future relations between the European Union and the UK. As I’ve said, this presupposes that sufficient progress has been made, particularly on the financial settlement relating to separation and on the very important issue of the fate of European citizens living in the UK. (...)
3. European Union - European project - France - Germany - Posted workers - Migration - Europe of security and defense - Brexit - CETA - Hearing of Mme Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, before the National Assembly European Affairs Committee - Q&A session - excerpts (Paris - July 20, 2017)
You asked me about the consequences of Brexit as regards fisheries. The stakes are obviously crucial. Fishermen from several French regions heavily depend—you didn’t use the word, but I do—on the Exclusive Economic Zone and British territorial waters. We’ll have to pay attention to this in the forthcoming comprehensive negotiations and aim for a balanced compromise—this is a realistic concern, because we’ve also got a lot of strengths in the negotiations. The United Kingdom, too, relies to a large extent on the European Union, where 70% of its seafood exports go, and 30% of its exports to the European Union go to France. So in this negotiation we’ve got expectations and strengths, but we aren’t at that point yet, as I said: we’re negotiating the conditions of the withdrawal. Above all, let’s not put the cart before the horse—to use an expression which doesn’t exactly conjure an image to do with fishing; I can’t think of a better one. (...)
The deputy asked me about the consequences of Brexit in a number of areas, beginning with the fate of European citizens living in the United Kingdom. The negotiator, Michel Barnier, analyzed the first proposal the British made, which they presented as fair and generous. I don’t wish to paraphrase the position taken by the person who alone is qualified to speak about the subject he’s tasked with, so I’ll restrict myself to saying that we can’t be satisfied with a proposal which makes the many French—and, more broadly, European—citizens living across the Channel dependent on purely British legislation which is likely to change over time, with no guarantees. Moreover, the important question about the reciprocal nature of the respective statuses of British nationals living in the European Union and European nationals living in the UK hasn’t been resolved. (...)
It would be premature to commit ourselves to how the negotiations on the future agreement are going to be organized. The sequencing doesn’t prevent us from pondering this, both at national level—which we’re in the process of doing—and in consultation with our European partners—which we’ve got to do. Until we’ve begun the second phase of the process, it’s better for us to keep quiet. By emphasizing that the future agreement will require a large number of extremely complex issues to be settled, we could create the temptation to think that the question concerning the method for calculating the sum payable by the UK for its financial commitments is, when all’s said and done, of secondary importance and can therefore be put to one side, which wouldn’t be in our interest.
As regards the impact of the UK’s departure on Europe’s future, I’ll start by reiterating that we didn’t want Brexit. I remain convinced today that post-Brexit Europe will be less good—both for Europe and for the United Kingdom—than Europe with the British. That said, we now have to ponder the future with 27 members, and accept that there are sectors where we’ll probably move forward faster from now on. In the area of defense, the UK is an important strategic partner, as you said, and we’d like it to remain so: the Europeans, like the British, are committed to continued defense cooperation. However, the British have long played a decisive blocking role on the issue of the European Union’s strategic autonomy and, from that point of view, we must use their departure to the best advantage. (...)
France, having to cope with major fires, has called on the EU for assistance, by triggering the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Created in 2001, it makes it possible for countries to respond without having substantial resources of their own, thanks to its Emergency Response Coordination Centre, based in the Commission in Brussels and operational 24/7. It registers countries’ requests and answers them immediately by coordinating resources made available by states.
What is the EU Civil Protection Mechanism?
When the scale of an emergency situation is greater than the affected country’s national response capability, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism allows states taking part in it to organize coordinated assistance.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism may be activated for any kind of disaster. Some recent examples include the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2014), the floods in the Western Balkans (2014), the conflict in eastern Ukraine (2015), the earthquake in Nepal (2015), the forest fires in Greece (2015) and Portugal (2017) and, of course, the European migration crisis (2015-2017).
The mechanism can also be activated during emergencies linked to marine pollution; it then works in close cooperation with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
All 28 EU member states are part of the mechanism, as are Iceland, Norway, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey.
Any country in the world can call on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The United Nations and its agencies, as well as some international organizations, can also make requests for assistance by this means.
The civil protection assistance provided to countries hit by disasters is made up of resources contributed by the participating countries and may take the form of material assistance, expertise, the dispatch of intervention teams or the delivery of specific equipment. Experts are also deployed on the ground under the mechanism to assess needs and ensure coordination with local authorities and international organizations, as well as conduct advisory missions to the countries affected in terms of prevention and preparation. When civil protection assistance is requested by third countries, it is generally combined with humanitarian aid.
The European legislation on civil protection, which dates from 2013, puts special emphasis on preparing for and preventing disasters, as well as assessing and planning risk management, at national level. To enable a swifter and more predictable response from the EU when disasters occur, the European Emergency Response Capacity (EERC) was created. It is a voluntary pool of pre-committed resources from the countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.