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Official speeches and statements - April 1, 2019

Published on April 1, 2019

1. United Nations - High-Level Event on Climate Change - Speech by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs - United Nations General Assembly (New York - March 28, 2019)

Thank you, Madam President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by emphasizing how important France considers this day of collective mobilization on behalf of our climate commitments and the importance of—together—scaling up our ambitions.

The Secretary-General has just reminded us of the challenge that climate change now represents for humanity as a whole. Its dangerous effects are already being felt. A one-degree increase was enough to deeply disrupt and undermine the world we live in. And voices are making themselves heard throughout the world expressing impatience and determination. Each week, young people express their anger, but also their hope. They are addressing themselves to all of us. We have an obligation towards them.

In 2015, we agreed on a universal framework in Paris based on action, responsibility, and respect for the sovereignty of all parties.

Since COP24 in Katowice, thanks to the Secretary-General’s precious support, we have all the necessary instruments.

But to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, we must act quickly and act together wherever we can, and first and foremost, within the multilateral framework of the United Nations.

Time is of the essence. Our current commitments are largely insufficient. But nothing justifies resignation.

Observing is no longer enough. Promises are no longer enough. We must act.

To those who still have doubts, let us say clearly: we have ways to successfully manage the climate transition. The necessary technological solutions exist. We will hone them further in the future. The funding exists; we must direct it towards low-carbon solutions.

So what, concretely, must we do?

We must achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible for the second half of the century.

France is doing everything it can to meet this goal. On the national level, we established a series of five-year carbon budgets that will ensure the neutrality of our emissions by 2050. In order to do so, we are moving in all sectors of the economy to decrease our fossil fuel consumption. At the European level, we are working to ensure that we can follow that same path along with our partners.

And in this body, standing shoulder to shoulder with you, we want to urge all countries, and especially the major emitters, to make new and more ambitious commitments. The goal of neutrality by 2050 should be everybody’s goal.

We will be meeting on September 23 for a summit organized by the UN Secretary-General. We heard him clearly earlier. We clearly heard his message. And we will come with plans, not speeches.

In this respect, France, Jamaica and Qatar have been tasked with working on climate financing.

Starting next year, we must be able to raise $100 billion every year in order to help developing countries.

This is critical. But there is more than that to the scope of our discussions.

We are already familiar with the parameters of these discussions; we must therefore align official development assistance flows with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement.

Thanks to the ambitious replenishment planned for this year and to rapidly strengthened governance, the Green Climate Fund should play an even more effective role in implementing the Paris climate agreement.

But public funding is not everything. We are convinced of the urgent need to redirect private financial flows as well, by increasing the transparency and accountability of the financial system with respect to climate and by developing instruments that combine public and private funding.

On 15 March in Nairobi at the UN Environment Assembly, President Macron highlighted a twofold pitfall that we must avoid at all costs: first, repainting what already exists green, which is not at all our intention, and then making new tools available without making new methods available. Instead, in order to avoid this twofold pitfall we must comprehensively revise the financing model for our economies.

Climate challenges—and risks—must now be central to economic decision-making processes, central to the decisions made by consumers and central banks, including international investors.

All that is possible. New methods of funding the ecological transition have already been developed and the various editions of the One Planet Summit have helped launch or strengthen these new methods.

I am convinced that the process starting today, which will conclude in September, will make it possible to share and effectively compare experiences that will help us to jointly build the sustainable societies of tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

2019 and 2020 will be decisive years. They must bring strong declarations: new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new financial commitments, new efforts to improve resilience and adaptation.

Our commitment must be equal to a challenge that is now itself of key importance. Let me assure you that France will play its full role in this effort.

Thank you.

2. European border and coast guard - Press communiqué issued by the Council of the European Union (Luxembourg - April 1, 2019)

The EU is working to improve the protection of its external borders as part of its comprehensive approach to migration. EU ambassadors today confirmed on behalf of the Council the informal agreement reached between representatives of the European Parliament and the Romanian Presidency of the Council on a regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard. The new rules now need to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is being strengthened in terms of staff and technical equipment. It is also being given a broader mandate to support member states’ activities on border protection, return and cooperation with third countries. The proposed new rules will incorporate the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) into the Frontex framework, to improve its functioning.

Standing corps of border and coast guards and return experts

To ensure coherent management of external borders and to be able to respond to crisis situations, a standing corps will be set up, with up to 10,000 operational staff by 2027. This standing corps will include operational staff members from Frontex, from the member states under long-term secondments or deployed for a short time, and a reserve for rapid reaction.

Deployments of the standing corps will take place as of January 1, 2021. To be able to adapt to future situations and capabilities the European Commission will, by December 31, 2023, present to the Council and the European Parliament a review of the overall number and composition of the standing corps. The Commission will then, where necessary, present proposals by March 2024 to amend the number, composition and member states’ contributions to the corps.

Member states will retain primary responsibility for the management of their borders, with Frontex and its staff providing technical and operational assistance subject to the agreement of the member states concerned. Under the proposed new rules, staff of the standing corps deployed to a member state will be able to exercise executive powers to carry out border controls or return tasks, always subject to the authorization of the host member state, including the use of force and weapons.


The proposed rules will allow Frontex to provide technical and operational support to member states in return operations.

The agency will provide support at the request of the member state concerned or on its own initiative and in agreement with the member state concerned. This support will cover all areas of return, from preparatory activities to return, post-return and post-arrival activities. It also includes assisted voluntary return and assistance of member states in the identification of third country nationals and the acquisition of travel documents.

Cooperation with third countries

The proposed rules will contribute to strengthening cooperation with third countries, by giving the agency wider scope for action and not limiting its possibilities for cooperation to neighboring countries.

This includes the possibility of concluding status agreements between the EU and third countries (limited to neighboring countries under current rules), which would allow for the deployment of border management teams from Frontex and for operations in the territory of third countries.

The agency will also be able to deploy experts as liaison officers, who will form part of the local or regional cooperation networks of immigration liaison officers and security experts of the EU and the member states. Priority will be given to the deployment of liaison officers in countries of origin and transit.


On September 12, 2018, the Commission proposed an updated mandate for the European Border and Coast Guard, with the aim of further improving the control of the EU’s external borders.

(Source of English text: Council of the European Union website)