Official speeches and statements - October 19, 2017
2. Council of Ministers’ meeting - Strategic Review of Defense and National Security (Paris - October 18, 2017)
I’m pleased to be taking part once again in this European Council. To begin with, a word of solidarity for our Portuguese friends in the wake of the terrible fires which have just struck the country once again, with many people killed, and also the determination of a Europe which is getting more involved alongside Portugal and - I hope - support for a European civil protection force, following these events.
Today, this evening and tomorrow will provide an opportunity to continue moving forward this Europe which protects and which projects itself.
A Europe which protects is obviously, in my view, one which affords better protection in the face of migration, a Defense Europe, with our determination to go further as regards the European Defense Fund. It’s also a Europe which is able to find the right free-trade agreements, the right negotiations to protect its workers and consumers.
But it’s also a Europe of projection and ambition, with the discussions we’ll be having on digital technology, and the ability to set up a European investment fund and have our own regulations and taxation.
It’s also about the discussion we’ll be having tomorrow, from tomorrow morning - and I welcome it - led by Donald Tusk, to make headway on a proactive agenda from heads of state and government so that in the next few weeks and months, on the basis of the initiatives we’ve taken, we can have genuine discussions and genuine conclusions allowing us to relaunch our Europe on all the pillars of sovereignty, unity and democracy which I talked about.
The hallmark of this European Council will also be a message of unity: unity with our member states in the face of the crises they may be experiencing, unity with Spain, and also very strong unity in the Brexit discussions, because we’re all united on the assessments, interests and aims with the same negotiator, Michel Barnier.
Finally, at this European Council, at a time when several voices are currently seeking to create divisions and get France to turn inwards, I’m very pleased to reaffirm France’s commitment to the European flag and anthem.
The Armed Forces Minister made a statement on the Strategic Review of Defense and National Security.
The Strategic Review of Defense and National Security, entrusted to the Armed Forces Minister by the President, was drawn up by a drafting committee chaired by Mr. Arnaud Danjean MEP and made up of representatives of civilian and military institutions and experts.
The review - which is the result of intensive work done in a short time, based on numerous consultations both in France and with our international partners - points out in particular that the current strategic environment has deteriorated in a lasting way because certain states’ power strategies have undermined the international system. New forms of conflict are also emerging: in a context in which Islamist terrorism is transforming itself and taking root, the world is experiencing an acceleration of proliferation but also of changing conflicts; a risk of military escalation has become possible again in traditional conflict areas but also in the digital and exoatmospheric spheres.
To face up to these threats, France will have to pursue a twofold ambition: to strengthen its strategic autonomy and to bring its partners with it in promoting effective European defense. This will involve strengthening industrial and operational foundations and pragmatically building the European security and defense policy, while imbuing the Armed Forces Ministry with a spirit of innovation and agility.
The French armed forces will thus have to be built on the basis of a full and balanced model open to cooperation, strengthening key skills in this demanding strategic environment and drawing on skilled and recognized personnel.
The review - submitted to the President at the Defense Council and presented to the relevant committees of the two assemblies - enables work to begin as quickly as possible on preparing the forthcoming military estimates bill for 2019-2025, of which it is intended to be the bedrock.