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Official speeches and statements - December 6, 2019

Published on December 6, 2019

1. Czech Republic - Visit by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian to Prague (6 December 2019) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - December 5, 2019)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will visit Prague on December 6, 2019.

The Minister will deliver a speech on the legacy of 1989 in Europe and on the challenges of European sovereignty and security today, within the framework of an international symposium on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain organized by the French Research Centre in Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, the Czech Academy of Science and the ERC TARICA research project supported by the EU Horizon 2020 program on socio-political changes in North Africa.

Thirty years after the Velvet Revolution, Jean-Yves Le Drian will meet former dissidents and signatories of Charter 77, in order to pay tribute to their commitment to democracy and freedoms.

He will meet his Czech counterpart, Tomas Petriček. In the context of our close and dynamic bilateral relations, the discussions will focus on the major current European and international issues on which our countries closely collaborate, notably the joint contributions to the security and stability of the Sahel. (...)

2. United Nations - Event "Movements out of single use plastics" - Opening remarks by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations (New York - December 4, 2019)

Dear friends,

I would like to begin by thanking the delegation of the European Union for conveying this event and gathering us tonight to reflect about one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: plastic pollution.

I would also like to congratulate "the Stefanie Batten Bland Company" for their impressive and thought-provoking performance and for accepting to share their art with us tonight. Their work is central in raising awareness on environmental issues through artistic expression. I am also delighted that this event gathers among the most committed campaigners in the fight against plastic pollution. Their campaigns, just as the choreographies of "the Stefanie Batten Bland Company", play a crucial role in raising awareness among the public on this issue.

It is precisely this kind of action that we need today. As the UN Secretary-General repeatedly emphasized one month ago at the Climate Action Summit, the time is no longer for speeches but for action. This is why we are happy to see that everyone is so committed tonight to act on environmental issues such as the one of plastic pollution.

This event also takes place at a moment when people and especially the Youth are mobilizing massively. Young people are going to the streets worldwide - and they did so here in New York at the eve of the Climate Action Summit - to demand increased ambition for the environment. The performance we just saw and the voices we hear tonight are part of this global movement.

This performance is also particularly timely as it takes place while leaders are gathering at COP25 in Madrid right now in order to discuss the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Alongside the engagement of the civil society, plastic pollution is also the responsibility of every administration, business or organization. That’s why it is particularly meaningful to hold this event inside the United Nations system, as the UN has taken the decisive step to ban single-use plastics from the organization’s headquarters. I would therefore like to warmly congratulate Andrew Nye and the Facilities and Commercial Activities Service of the UN for their tireless commitment on this topic.

As you all know, rising productions of plastic raise a number of environmental issues. The annual production of plastic has increased 200-fold between 1950 and 2015 and this production is largely centered today on single-use and disposable plastics. As of today, half of all plastic produced worldwide is designed to be used only once and up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used every year around the world.

Among the environmental problems that plastic creates, plastic waste disposal in oceans has become a critical environmental issue. The microplastics coming from this waste contaminate the whole food chain and the plastics which stay at the surface create immense patches such as the Great Pacific garbage patch, which has been described as an 8th continent of plastic.

Given the scope of the challenge, France has decided to react by taking ambitious steps to fight plastic pollution.

Our country has set the objective of achieving 100% of plastic recycling in 2025, which means eliminating plastic waste from our country in half a decade.

In order to help achieve this goal, a national pact on plastic packaging has been signed in February, between the government, the 13 main companies of the sector and 3 NGOs in order to incentivize businesses to mainstream the use of recycled plastics in all of their activities and drastically limit their plastic waste.

At the local level, a charter has been signed in August between the French government and local authorities of coastal regions to fight plastic pollution on beaches and in the sea. Through this charter local authorities commit to maintaining a clean littoral, contributing to the protection of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

France has also put a particular focus on single-use plastics by banning plastic bags from being sold anywhere on the territory in 2016. Being among the first European countries to do so, this action has triggered discussions towards a continent-wide ban on plastic bags.

At the European level, we are proud to be working hand in hand with other Member States in order to raise ambition in terms of plastic recycling.

Besides our national and European action, we are also committed to working in multilateral institutions to collectively fight plastic pollution. Our ambition is to increase multilateral efforts worldwide on this topic, and that’s why we are proud to participate tonight in the action of the delegation of the European Union here in New York to raise awareness of all stakeholders at the United Nations.

With these words, let me warmly thank again Ambassador Gonzato of the European Union for gathering us tonight and congratulate once more the Stefanie Batten Bland company for helping their audience open their eyes on this issue.

Thank you very much.