Official speeches and statements - October 30, 2017
I am watching developments in the situation in Catalonia with anxiety.
France would like Spain to be strong and united. There is only one interlocutor, namely the Madrid government. Spain’s constitution must be respected.
So it’s in this framework, that of the rule of law, that the Catalonia issue must be considered. That is why France does not recognize the declaration of independence which the Catalan Parliament has just adopted.
This evening Jean-Yves Le Drian will host a working dinner for his British counterpart, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson.
The two ministers will discuss the most critical international issues, including the situation in the Middle East, Africa, North Korea, Burma/Myanmar and Venezuela. France and the United Kingdom enjoy especially close and regular cooperation on all major international issues, on which we largely see eye to eye.
M. Le Drian and Mr Johnson will also review our bilateral relationship, which is both close-knit and highly strategic. Among the topics to be discussed is the follow-up given to the Lancaster House treaties, which deal with our cooperation on defence and security. Finally, they will make preparations for the Franco-British summit scheduled for early 2018. (...)
I pay tribute to the work of Mrs. Pénicaud and Mrs. Loiseau, who have been constantly touring European capitals to explain the French position.
Three years ago the situation was unsatisfactory; no member of parliament would have stood up to say this directive was a good directive. A little more than a year ago, when the European Commission put its proposal on the table, few people thought we’d manage to change it. On Monday, after unexpected partners in the East rallied round, we secured an agreement.
The situation isn’t perfect but it’s better than yesterday. There’s still work, because the Commission took a different position, to which it seems we can quickly get closer through three-way discussion. I hope so, because this text will be more protective for all European workers. It applies to transport workers but—given their clear distinctive characteristics, since they are by nature mobile—specific details about controls must be provided.
What has prevailed is a method: the creation of a majority through very delicate work, without ever playing the deadly game of pitting Western and Eastern Europe against each other. That’s invaluable for the future of this text and the future of Europe.
Question on taxation of Internet giants
Yes, the platforms are bringing about an economic transformation. How can our innovators - start-ups, SMEs - play on an equal footing with the major groups?
First of all we have to review taxation. That’s a strong demand from the public, who are sensitive to the inequality on this issue. Together with Bruno Le Maire, I’ve proposed to our partners to move faster than the European timetable by establishing an equalization tax, which would take effect within 24 months. Nineteen countries support us; at the Telecoms Council, the others also said they were ready to move forward.
Another point: transparency and loyalty. Together with Bruno Le Maire, I signed the decrees for the Digital Republic Act, which will oblige the GAFA [Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon] to publish their results.
Our whole way of thinking must change.
The Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which determines responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, issued its report yesterday.
It unambiguously concluded that the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun, which left 83 people dead on 4 April, noting that it had obtained “credible and reliable evidence”. It also concluded that Daesh [so-called ISIL] was responsible for the attack on Um Hosh on 16 September 2016.
These conclusions come in the wake of earlier JIM reports establishing the Syrian regime’s responsibility for three previous attacks, and that of Daesh for one other. They confirm our own national assessment published on 26 April and establishing the regime’s responsibility for the attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
They also confirm the Syrian regime’s serious violations of the international commitments it had undertaken in 2013 following the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2118 on the complete dismantling of its chemical capabilities. Impunity is unacceptable. France continues to work with its partners in New York and The Hague to draw the operational conclusions of the JIM report and to determine the best way of punishing those responsible for these attacks, in order to combat chemical proliferation.
For now, the JIM must be allowed to continue its work. It has once again demonstrated its usefulness and the professionalism of its investigative methods. It must be able to continue to document cases in which chemical weapons are used, whether the perpetrators are state or non-state actors.
Born of a joint US-Russian initiative that was unanimously adopted by the Security Council in August 2015, the JIM’s mandate must be renewed before 17 November. We will work within the Security Council to this end. More broadly, we will work with all of its members and with those of the OPCW, including Russia, to draw the operational conclusions of the JIM report and fight to prevent the use of chemical weapons from spreading.