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Official speeches and statements - July 23, 2018

Published on July 26, 2018

1. Syria - Support for the White Helmets - Statements by the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs spokesperson (Paris, 22/07/2018)

Thanks to strong international mobilization, a group of White Helmets and their families were today able to leave Syria, where their safety was seriously threatened. France played an active role in the efforts made by several partners to ensure the success of this operation.

This group of White Helmets and their families are currently in Jordan, where they are being cared for by the UNHCR. The steps needed to resettle them in third countries are currently being taken. France stands ready to help support and protect these individuals and their families.

France has consistently supported the White Helmets, who volunteer to help the Syrian population in the worst possible circumstances. France pays tribute to the courage and dedication they have always demonstrated, for which many of them have paid with their lives./.

2. European Union - Statement by Mme Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, on her arrival at the General Affairs Council (Article 50) - excerpts (Brussels, 20/07/2018)


What is your opinion of what is in the White Paper, what the UK is proposing?

THE MINISTER - Today the first priority is to work on the withdrawal agreement. We have to be ready in October to adopt the withdrawal agreement, because after that you have to ratify it in Britain and we have to ratify it with the European Parliament. So this is the priority, and I look forward to hearing what Michel Barnier has to tell us about the negotiation session, and whether there has been progress on Ireland and on the backstop, because we need to be waterproof on Ireland. Then, we will work on a framework for the future relationship. We have, of course, looked carefully at the White Paper, but we have also witnessed that there have been changes asked by the British Parliament regarding the future relationship. So we need to know where the British negotiator is on the future relationship, we have to work on a framework. Basically you know our position, because we have stated it publicly from the start. We want to have an ambitious partnership with Britain, we want to work with Britain, with a trade agreement and on internal and external security, because it is a very important partner for us, but we have to protect the consistency of the single market and we have to make sure that we keep our autonomy of decision.

On the Irish issue, the UK government says it cannot accept a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and the EU has shown flexibility on that.

THE MINISTER - Well we don’t want a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but we want a solution which is consistent with the single market and with our rules. So in December, there was an agreement between our British partner and the EU 27 on principles including a backstop if nothing else works. Until now, we have not seen another solution which would be proposed and accepted by the 27. So we have to decide on the backstop, and if, in the future we find something smarter and which provides us with no border but the consistency of the single market, let’s decide it. But until now, we have to be serious with the backstop.

Is it everything in the White Paper which the EU is actually willing to accept?

THE MINISTER - Well, it is good that there is a White Paper, because we have been waiting for quite a while for a British position on the future relationship, but now our principles are well-known by our British partners and we will work on the basis of our principles and see to what extent our British partner fully gets it, including the British Parliament, because you are mentioning the White Paper but now we know that there have been amendments to different provisions in Britain, which makes it even harder for the rest to discuss with our British partners, but we really want to have an ambitious partnership with Britain, providing that our principles are respected./.

(Mme Loiseau spoke in English.)

3. European Union - Investment policy - France welcomes the positive results of the Juncker Investment Plan - Communiqué issued by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Paris, 18/07/2018)

Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance, hails yesterday’s announcement by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank that the Juncker Plan has reached and exceeded its target of raising euro315 billion of extra finance in three years. The Juncker Plan is based on an innovative financial system and has enabled investment to be given a new boost post crisis in sectors key to the future of our economy, particularly the energy transition and innovation.

Bruno Le Maire says: "The Juncker Plan has supported, in a wide variety of sectors, the financing of projects which probably wouldn’t have come into being otherwise. France is the Plan’s number one beneficiary. We support it being extended in the years to come. It is an important component of our investment policy and clearly demonstrates the added value of economic action on a European scale."


The Juncker Plan is backed by a budget guarantee from the EU: euro26 billion from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) coupled with a euro7.5 billion contribution from the European Investment Bank (EIB), both of which, through a leverage effect, aim to raise euro315 billion of investment by the middle of 2018 to reach euro500 billion by 2020. This mechanism allows the EIB to deploy financial instruments (loans, guarantees, acquisitions of stakes) in risky projects. To date, euro334.8 billion has been raised as part of projects approved by the EIB in the 28 member states.

The Juncker Plan is a unique financial instrument which highlights the catalytic effect of European finance. As such it has allowed a concrete solution to be provided to the lack of investment in post-crisis Europe. The EIB has invested in innovative sectors and, thanks to the Juncker Plan, reaches many companies which had never previously benefited from its finance. Indeed, 75% of the financed projects - particularly [those of] SMEs and intermediate-sized companies - have benefited from this tool for the first time.

Since the launch in 2015, nearly 144 operations have been approved in France thanks to the guarantee provided by the Juncker Plan. This translates into more than euro10 billion of EIB loans, i.e. euro50 billion of extra investment. EIB documents emphasize the diversity of the operations financed throughout France:

In France, three sectors have received special support from the Juncker Plan, in line with the government’s priorities: the energy transition (32%), innovation (32%) and the digital sector (15%). To give an example, the EIB as such has directly financed the R&D policies of many intermediate-sized companies in the aerospace industry (Mecachrome, Latécoère and Daher) and the industry dealing with the energy-efficiency renovation of houses and flats, where the EIB provided finance for companies such as Sunpartner, which designs transparent photovoltaic windows./.

4. Sustainable development - Sustainable Development Goals: Brune Poirson sets out France’s progress report on the implementation of Agenda 2030 - Press communiqué issued by the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition (New York, 18/07/2018)

From 16 to 18 July 2018, Brune Poirson visited United Nations headquarters in New York for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The Minister of State set out France’s progress report on the implementation of Agenda 2030.

Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, are the key framework for implementing sustainable development in France and around the world. The SDGs are tools, benchmarks and guidelines enabling every stakeholder in the world to bring about an ecological and inclusive transition.

After presenting a voluntary national review of its commitments in 2016, France reports every year at the High-level Political Forums (HLPFs) held in July each year, in progress reports setting out advances in implementation.

In 2018, France’s progress report more specifically concerned “environmental" goals: water management (SDG 6), clean energy (SDG 7), sustainable cities (SDG 11), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), life on land (SDG 15) and partnerships (SDG 17).

Brune Poirson emphasized that “we must make the Sustainable Development Goals system more accessible and explain it more. They’re a genuinely successful tool for ensuring all nations have the same frame of reference for assessing and comparing their public policies. France actively contributed to their adoption, and our country is mobilizing to ensure they are achieved in all the regions, in both metropolitan and Overseas France."

Spotlight on Brune Poirson’s progress report in New York:

  • SDG 6 -Sustainable management of water for all: the government set up consultations on water as part of the major conference on water, to modernize water and sanitation systems in cooperation with local authorities.
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy: the government put in place multiannual energy programmes aimed at planning effectively for France’s energy transition.

SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities: to ensure everyone has access to safe and affordable homes, the bill on changes in housing, town planning and digital technology - the ELAN bill - proposes concrete, operational solutions based on three key objectives:

  • 1. to build better and more cheaply, particularly by simplifying urban planning standards and procedures and turning offices into homes;
  • 2. to foster social diversity;
  • 3. to improve the physical environment by improving measures to combat substandard housing, increased punishments for slum landlords, new tools to revitalize medium-sized city centres, etc.

SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production: in order to speed up the achievement of SDG 12, the government has created the circular economy road map, presented by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Brune Poirson, and the national strategy to combat imported deforestation.

SDG 15 - Life on land: the government created the biodiversity strategy - presented by Nicolas Hulot, Ministre d’Etat, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition - to make protecting biodiversity a national priority and contribute to the adoption of a new, ambitious international framework at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020./.

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