Official speeches and statements - May 20, 2019
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
So we’ve held this meeting of the 27 today, Europe Day, May 9—a meeting that was important precisely to discuss future issues—and we were able to do so in two phases. Firstly talking about external strategic issues, and then internal issues, and each time basically talking about the future of our Europe. This meeting was important, in my eyes, in three respects: firstly because we concentrated on something other than managing crises and everyday issues—in particular Brexit—, in the face of the multilateralism crisis we’re experiencing, in the face of China’s rise in many spheres; we need a Europe which protects, which also embodies our future and which is also, at the right level, our way of expressing our sovereignty. That’s why I think these [European] elections are extremely important. Finally, the meeting provided us with an opportunity to lay the groundwork of the European agenda for the next five years. We had a long discussion about these issues, but I want to emphasize here three priorities that broadly underlay our discussions, and I may go back in detail over these issues and others, depending on your questions.
First of all, there’s clear consensus that the climate must be part of Europe’s future strategy. Moreover, the text proposed by the presidency, for the leaders’ agenda, was very clear on this point and of very high quality. But we need to redouble, so to speak, our climate and environmental ambition in Europe. That’s what our young people are demanding of us throughout the continent, it’s what the situation of the planet requires, whether it be climate warming or biodiversity, and the credibility of Europe and the construction of its model very clearly depend on it. In this regard, I’m pleased that, on our initiative, nine countries signed/signed up to make? an essential contribution upholding a strengthening of our climate targets, and in particular carbon neutrality and therefore zero emissions by 2050. Likewise, we’re pushing strongly for tailored funding to be put in place for investment in the ecological transition, and to this end I proposed to establish a climate bank, which will enable us fully to pursue this ambition at European level. There are clearly all the reforms we must promote too, both for a minimum CO2 price in Europe and for taxation on our borders. Climate ambition must be central to the strategy of the European Commission and future Parliament.
Secondly, very clearly, there’s the policy of sovereignty, security and neighborhood, which we discussed at length today and which must be part of our future vision. Europe isn’t an island: it lives amid dangers, opportunities—in any case trends which don’t depend solely on us but require the most constructive partnerships with our neighborhoods and the fair protection of our borders, so that our interests and fellow citizens can be protected. This means that, in my view, a second extremely crucial priority in our European policy is this good policy of development, security and protecting our borders, which in my view requires a strong partnership with Africa. We’ve done a lot in recent years, and I don’t think we’ll be able to deal with the potential risks that exist, as well as any opportunities there may be for Europe unless we’re more active as partners in an equal partnership with the African continent. I think that’s central to this priority, but at the same time Europe must also be more clear-sighted and effective in protecting its interests and borders; that’s why I’m arguing very strongly, along with several other colleagues, for an overhaul of what today we call Schengen. We can see its limits. (...) We need to define a common space within this area and have a single asylum policy to avoid any imbalances, a single, effective policy for our common borders and genuine solidarity within the area so that it’s not merely the reception countries or the most attractive countries within the area who bear the bulk of the burden. Today, the Schengen Area as it was conceived no longer functions in a satisfactory way. So we must overhaul it, fully enforce the rules and overhaul it in a much more stringent way, as I’ve already proposed several times.
Finally, our third priority for the coming years, in my view, is very firmly based on redefining, reinforcing what I’d call the economic and social model of European growth. The last 70 years have relied on a certain vision of progress we had, enabling us to bring progress to the middle classes and development to everyone, and the European Union was built on this very ability to ensure progress for everyone through the social market economy. This progress has been lacking in recent years because we’ve experienced economic and financial crises, and also because our own model has somewhat forgotten that goal. So I think building the economic and social model of tomorrow in Europe requires us to set ourselves ambitions: firstly, to be the leader in innovation and creating the values of tomorrow. That means a Europe that invests hugely in digital technology, artificial intelligence and the environmental industry. The initiative we took on batteries with the Germans is part of this, but we must have a genuine, dedicated budget for training, research and industrial policies, and be at the heart of the ambition that will be the growth of tomorrow’s Europe. It also means a Europe that has a real social policy. We had a long and fascinating discussion. A lot of countries in eastern and southern Europe explained to us for the first time: I’ve got a problem, I’m losing population and I’m losing workers. But why? Because the economic model of other countries was built on this low-cost economic workforce who left those countries and went to others. So we can clearly see that the strict competitiveness model exploiting social dumping doesn’t work in Europe any more; that’s why I very profoundly believe that tomorrow’s European growth must also be based on a new social convergence. This is why, at the heart of the plan for a [European] renaissance, which I’m promoting, I personally believe in this idea of having a minimum wage in all the European Union countries and rebuilding social convergence. We aren’t all starting from the same situation. France has a minimum wage, which I’m defending and won’t allow anyone to repudiate; it is compatible with our competitiveness. (...) Many countries within the EU still haven’t got a minimum wage, so we’ve got to entrench standards everywhere and progressively raise them so that there’s this genuine convergence again. And then, to achieve this economic model, tomorrow’s growth, this model of European progress, we’ve also got to bring our industrial and trade policy into line with these objectives.
As I’ve very firmly reiterated, France actually opposed a new negotiating mandate with the United States of America because the United States quit the Paris Agreement, and I very profoundly believe that if we want to defend a genuine model of economic, social and environmental progress in Europe, we need a trade policy which incorporates our environmental and social objectives, otherwise we get our businesses and fellow citizens to make an effort but we become an open market which no longer defends our fellow citizens and businesses against international competitors. I think these aspects are at the heart of this new economic and social model of growth and progress, and at the heart of what we’ll have to defend in Europe in the next few years; and that’s why the euro, our industrial and environmental policy and our energy policy are at the heart of this ambition.I had the opportunity to repeat this again in recent days when I hosted the European Trade Union Confederation. This is what’s at stake today, what will be at stake on May 26, 2019 and in the coming weeks. Basically, over the next few weeks—and this discussion was extremely important in this respect—we’ve got to build Europe’s new agenda for the next five years. It must be an ambitious agenda, one of progress for our fellow citizens, and it must, in my view, be the heart of the ambition which the coalition of progress—which I want us to fight for—must set itself. There will be various viewpoints, but we’ve got to build a coalition of progress in Europe which allows us to move forward and which mustn’t yield an inch to the coalition of destruction and disintegration.
Throughout the world, homosexual, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are the victims of harassment, torture, arbitrary arrest and even murder, often with complete impunity. Homosexuality continues to be a crime or misdemeanor in more than 70 countries and will soon be punished by death in 11 of them. In certain countries, homosexuality and transgenderism are considered illnesses.
On this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, France reaffirms its utmost determination to strive for equal rights and dignity for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
It will continue to work towards the universal decriminalization of homosexuality. It will continue its direct support for actors on the ground and human rights activists, including LGBTI rights activists.
It will continue its efforts to promote this priority in its bilateral relations and in multilateral institutions. It applauds the progress already made with the UN’s LGBT Core Group and the Equal Rights Coalition launched in 2016 in Montevideo, of which it is a founding member.
3. United Nations - Justice and Protection for All - A special event to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia - Statement by the Deputy Permanent of France to the United Nations (New York - May 17, 2019)
Thank you. I find it both very moving and very energizing to see so many of us gathered here, determined to fight against all forms of discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is very important that we all celebrate progress, both social and legal progress. But we all are also acutely aware that discrimination persists. In more than 70 states, homosexuality is still a crime, and in 12 of them it’s punishable by the death penalty. This is why decriminalization is a priority for France.
The question I’d like to ask is: how can we continue to make a difference and really eliminate hatred and discrimination both in law and practice?
‐ First at the United Nations, we have to continue working together as the LGBTI core group, to raise awareness and advance the LBGTI human rights agenda, and this in accordance with international human rights laws. We, as the core group, organize this event every year with the NGO Outrights, and really I would like to commend your work. We also work with the OHCHR campaign "Free and Equals". France also joined the Equals rights coalition, and we very much look forward to the joint leadership of Argentina and the UK and to working together in this framework. As you (Jessica Stern) and the Ambassador of Spain highlighted, we have to work together both in Geneva and in New York, in the coming weeks on the renewal of the mandate of the independent expert on combating discrimination against LGBT persons. That is very important.
‐ The second thing I wanted to say is that we need to continue supporting local actors. We have seen how crucial their role is to move forward and to achieve legal and social change. France pays tribute to the courage of all the NGOs which are working in very difficult contexts. I have a special thought for people in Chechnya. Thanks to the intervention of some local actors, persecuted Chechen homosexuals fled to France where they were able to obtain asylum. NGOs are also crucial to obtain justice in the face of violence and discrimination, and to ensure that homosexuality is no longer considered a crime. I would like here to particularly salute and thank our speakers from Guyana and Kenya for their impressive courage and action. It is because of people like you that France supports civil society organizations, through an international support fund dedicated to local NGOs and through the participation in international LBGTI conferences and activities. You said it, we have to rejoice all together for each step in the right direction and in this regard I would like to congratulate all Taiwanese LGBTI couples who since today have the legal right to marry. And I would also like to highlight and emphasize the role of the private sector. It is very important to also continue action there. France encourages its enterprises and companies to adopt the standards of conduct for tackling discrimination against LGBTI people, that have been developed by OHCHR.
‐ Last point, the third way we can continue making a difference is by moving forward to promoting multilateral action at the regional level. We have heard the Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is exemplary work and we should feel inspired in all the other regional courts and institutions. We are going to try our best to do it as France is taking over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe brings together 47 member states. I think this will be an opportunity to continue raising awareness and working on this topic.
A last word to say that we really look forward to continue working collectively, so that all people benefit from the same protection, wherever they are, whomever they love.