Official speeches and statements - December 18, 2017
1. European Union - European Council - Statements by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Ms Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany - excerpts (Brussels - December 15, 2017)
We’ve just completed an important European Council, the Chancellor has just set out the broad lines of it here, and in fact this summit wasn’t solely devoted to Brexit. We’ve completed a phase, and I totally share what was explained about the decisions taken on Brexit and about all the challenges. On this issue, we’ve been able to maintain the unity of the 27, the integrity of the single market and compliance with our common rules, and we’ll ensure that we maintain these same principles in the second phase. And here I also want to echo the Chancellor’s thanks to Michel Barnier for the smooth negotiation of the first phase.
But I wouldn’t like this summit - the last summit of the year - to be summed up by this simple issue. It’s the fifth European summit I’ve taken part in as French President in the space of six months, and that’s a sign in itself. It shows our activity at European level and the intensity of these meetings, because although there’s currently no crisis to resolve we want to prepare the future, and I would add that this dominates the friendship and coordination between France and Germany, and I really want to thank the Chancellor for our excellent work and relations on all these issues. As has been said, we can’t resolve every problem together, but when we can’t resolve them together there’s no chance of their being resolved anyway. (...)
This proactive approach is perfectly illustrated when it comes to the defense issues recalled by the Chancellor. Yesterday we established this ambitious road map among 25 member states, Permanent Structured Cooperation; 17 concrete projects have already been launched. And so what seemed impossible to many a year ago has become a reality today, because the Commission made a proposal and we supported it together and broadly rallied together.
For my part, I’ve proposed that we should be able to continue moving forward at strategic level, and so we’ll continue moving forward together in order to have a common strategic culture and go even further. Yesterday we also made decisive progress on education, with clear and concrete commitments: to strengthen Erasmus, which will be a priority of the next European budget, to develop European universities, some 20 by 2024, and to initiate a process of mutual recognition of secondary education diplomas. On this, we’re getting back to many of the proposals we also made together - I worked on this in close consultation with the Chancellor in the run-up to the Sorbonne speech -, and the proposals the Chancellor made on these issues have also been picked up on, and I welcome that. What we also decided at cultural level - the joint action we want in order to defend copyright - is extremely important, given the transformation in particular linked to digital technology.
We also reiterated our social commitments following the Gothenburg summit, with two clauses on follow-up meetings, one in March 2018 and the other in June 2018: it’s the first time the Council has decided so regularly to discuss issues of social convergence, and it seems to me extremely important. European leadership in the fight against climate change following COP23 in Bonn and the One Planet Summit in Paris on Tuesday was also reaffirmed, which was important.
The Chancellor has just recalled the debate on immigration; there’s absolutely nothing in what’s been said that I would remove. We’re very active on international issues together, and I believe we’re both satisfied with the progress, which must be consolidated; however, we need internal solidarity - it’s essential - and you can’t limit solidarity when it comes to international interventions, and we both agree, and we have a target date, June 2018, for conclusions from the European Council. So we’ll be working together to reach a genuine agreement externally and internally; in particular, there are seven texts under discussion that must be concluded in this period.
On the Euro Area, the discussion today enabled us to see the scale of the issue, in both the short and medium term; I think what’s important is that in the current context we’ve agreed on a timetable for future meetings.
First there will be work done by the economy and finance ministers on very short-term technical issues, in the framework of what’s been decided, but we’ll meet again in the next few months in Euro Area format to have a proper summit which will make it possible to have a genuinely strategic and political initial discussion on what we want to do over five, 10 years with the Euro Area. We haven’t had such a discussion for a very long time; it’s essential and we’re aiming for June to finalize a short-, medium- and long-term joint road map with the desire we each have to align our views in March in accordance with the method we’ve set out and adopted.
So as you can see, there’s no shortage of subjects and I believe that this Council has genuinely provided the opportunity to make headway on many points.
We had an intense discussion on Russia and Ukraine, and yesterday we adopted a very clear way of proceeding on the Jerusalem situation; we can come back to this in the questions, if you wish.
At any rate, I really want here to defend our method and the fact that it is enabling progress. We debate subjects, without any taboos, looking to the future and without drawing any conclusions; we then build a genuine convergence of views between us, with the desire to gain broader support, and we get concrete results.
On May 15, 2017 in Berlin, I paid an initial visit to the Chancellor and we held our first joint press conference; it wasn’t that long ago. Together we talked about the four themes of a Europe that protects: defense, where we had a shared determination, the results are there to see and very concrete; immigration, we relaunched the debate, got some initial successes, particularly in the Sahel, in Libya, and we’re determined together to take action to bring about successes on the domestic front; the posting of workers, and since the last European Council an agreement - which some said was impossible - has been found and should be finalized with the European Parliament in the very next few weeks, and it’s a game changer; the trade policy reform, where we put in place a mechanism to control the strategic investments proposed by the Commission. We’re working on this together, and it will have to be finalized for 2018, and we also managed to get European anti-dumping instruments significantly strengthened, a reform which was adopted a few days ago and allows us to combine our commitment to competitiveness, our economies’ openness and the fair protection of our interests.
Progress is also being made on several very concrete issues: the European civil protection force, which the Commission proposed a few days ago; the plan for a European innovation agency; a European DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], which we’re both pushing for; and the European intelligence academy, and these are projects which will come into being, I’m convinced, during the first half of 2018.
So for all these reasons, I’m convinced that we can embark on the coming year with the same determination and proactiveness. And we’ll have the same commitment to environmental issues, on which we want to act in concert.
All this forms a concrete, ambitious agenda which is making progress, and yesterday evening I also recalled - I’ll finish on this point - the method I’m proposing for the Citizen Consultations: a schedule has been shared with all the member states, and Donald Tusk will gather people’s comments in order to finalize a method in the first quarter of next year and move forward together on this new, necessary initiative before the summer.
To conclude, I should like to say a word of thanks to Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and the Estonian Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, who has conducted his presidency with a great deal of skill and commitment. I wish Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov, the same success; he will take over on January 1, 2018. Thank you very much!
2. Digital sector - Presentation of France’s international strategy for the digital sector at thecamp - Press briefing by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Aix-en-Provence - December 15, 2017)
THE MINISTER - The digital challenge is considerable in our country, and for Europe too, in terms of economic development, the aspect of free competition and innovation, and respect for the right and ability of everyone to ensure their personal data are genuinely regulated. And at the same time, the digital challenge is also a security challenge in the face of the various offensives that may be conducted via the Internet, and also in the face of the terrorist threat.
It was important for France to ensure it has full coordination, which means not only cooperation but also regulation, control, responsibility, and legal, economic and social standards; that’s what I proposed earlier, with the whole government, on these issues.
We also need economic diplomacy and digital diplomacy that enable us to get these principles validated and ensure we can take this same line at European level.
Q. - You’ve talked about a "European model"?
THE MINISTER - A European model is a model that ensures both freedom and security. Freedom means the ability to have everyone on the networks, and the economic capability this represents. And also having control of security. In other words, we must regulate and have standards, in order to avoid any abuses. It also means ensuring that Internet access remains free and that the web is neutral, so that everyone can show innovation, can gain access to it, and Europe must show this determination.
Q. - What are you going to take away from your visit to thecamp?
THE MINISTER - I’m pretty impressed to see how thecamp opens up a whole series of initiatives - whether it’s to do with young people developing projects which are sometimes a bit crazy, already mature start-ups bringing their know-how here, or thought being given over the long term to what the future may hold tomorrow. I’ve found tremendous creativity here, opening up action which is often too self-focused.
Q. - You’ve talked about sovereignty, deterrence and cyber security; you’ve drawn parallels with the nuclear challenge after the Second World War. Do you sense that France has fallen behind a bit compared to other powers?
THE MINISTER - No, I think we’re on track. But we’ve got to take [these measures] now and probably change the system to anticipate the risk posed by digital globalization and allow France in the technical field - which is fairly advanced - to play its full role in the challenge economically.
Q. - Is digital technology more a danger or an opportunity?
THE MINISTER - If it’s regulated, it’s an opportunity for freedom; otherwise, it’s a threat.