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Official speeches and statements - February 4, 2020

Published on February 4, 2020

1. United Nations - Meeting of the Group of Friends on Climate in the presence of the Secretary General - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Trusteeship Council (New York - February 3, 2020)

Excellencies, Mr. Secretary General, chers amis,

As 2020 opens, Morocco and France have the honor to convey the first meeting of the year of the group of friends on climate, in the presence of the Secretary General. We are extremely honored to welcome you here and we would like to commend your personal and political commitment in the fight against climate change.

As bad as climate impacts may have been in 2019, the year which just ended was also one of hope for climate. And if one person gave us hope and energy to fight climate change in 2019, it is you, Mr. Secretary General. By gathering the world in New York at the Climate Action Summit in September, you demonstrated that climate change had to be fought with actions, not with words, with commitments.

You also prompted us to hear the voices of those who will be the most affected by the decisions we take today: young people who are taking to the streets everywhere to demand that we do not sacrifice their future. The Youth Summit in September was perhaps the most vibrant call for us to do better for climate in 2020.

Dear Friends,

The science is indisputable: 2020 might be our last best chance to tackle the climate crisis and to preserve the spirit of the Paris agreement. In 2019, we witnessed the ravages of climate inaction: tropical cyclones, wildfires, cities asphyxiating under clouds of smoke and heat waves. 2019 marks the end of the hottest decade ever recorded and in the sole first half of the year a record number of 7 million people have been displaced because of extreme weather events. And we know that what 2019 is only the weakest version of what is yet to come if we do not choose to act now.

In 2020, five years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, countries will submit their enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions and this will mark a historic step in the fight against climate change as the world unites to get our planet back on the right track.

But 2020 also opens a new decade. Fighting climate change will be the key driver of this collective action: stabilizing our planet’s climate is the prerequisite of any further success in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yet I also want to emphasize that another key Agenda will be set in 2020—that is the post-2020 framework for biodiversity. We will not be able to fight climate change without the help of nature, and nature will not resist the damages of climate change if we don’t act upon it.

In 2020, France will do everything in its power to raise ambition both for climate and for the protection of biodiversity at each of the Summits at which we will gather: the IUCN World Conservation Congress in June in Marseille, the UN Nature Summit in New York, COP15 on biodiversity in Kunming and COP26 on climate in Glasgow.

I’m sure we are all very excited to hear the views of His Excellency Mr. Secretary General on the year 2020 but before turning to you Mr. Secretary General, let me give the floor to my friend Ambassador Hilale of Morocco.

2. Sahel - Increase in Barkhane force’s troop numbers - Press release issued by the Ministry for the Armed Forces (Paris - February 2, 2020)

The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has decided to increase the number of troops deployed in the Sahel-Sahara strip to approximately 5,100, an increase of 600.

This decision is consistent with the approaches taken at the Pau summit and with building the Coalition for the Sahel.

It represents a considerable effort for the French armed forces. Most of the reinforcements will be deployed in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area. Another part of these reinforcements will be directly assigned to the G5 Sahel forces, to support them in combat.

The fight against terrorism is our priority. France is on the front lines in the Sahel, but it must not stand alone.

Chad should soon deploy an additional battalion to the G5 Sahel Joint Force in the tri-border area. The Europeans are also mobilizing, including the Czech Republic, whose government has just announced its intention to deploy 60 troops to Task Force Takuba, which will bring together various European special forces units. Further announcements should soon follow, based on the political and parliamentary timetables of the countries wishing to join us.

At the same time, France is in favor of extending the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) so that it may cooperate with the armed forces of other G5 countries, thereby providing a larger share of their training.

The Ministry for the Armed Forces is fully mobilized, along with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to bolster the momentum of the Pau summit.

The solution to the current crisis is not solely military but comprehensive, political, security-related and economic.

President Macron reminded the Defense Council this week that this major step forward in our engagement in the Sahel must be a turning point in the mobilization of our European partners and the build-up of G5 forces.

Our troops embody the armed wing of the Republic. Each day they fight an elusive, asymmetrical enemy with the same determination. The reinforcement announced by President Macron should help us step up pressure on the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), a terrorist organization acting on behalf of Daesh [so-called ISIL]. We will leave no space for those who want to destabilize the Sahel.

3. Brexit - United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union: withdrawal agreement conditions - Press release issued by the Ministry of the Interior (Paris - January 31, 2020)

Following the ratification of the withdrawal agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will take effect from midnight on January 31, 2020. The withdrawal agreement provides for a transition period until December 31, 2020. Tonight’s Brexit deadline will therefore have only a limited direct impact:

Entry and residence rights for British nationals and their family members after Brexit

The withdrawal agreement sets out the conditions for British nationals to stay in France. It provides for all the rights British nationals acquired as European nationals to be maintained during the transition period until December 31, 2020.

The withdrawal agreement’s provisions will apply to British nationals and their family members who are already settled in France or settle in France before December 31, 2020.

Under the agreement, British nationals must obtain a "Withdrawal Agreement" residence permit which they will be obliged to hold from July 1, 2021. Prior to that date, they are under no obligation to hold a French residence permit.

To allow British nationals to apply early for their residence permit online, the website, tailored to the withdrawal agreement’s provisions, will be accessible from July 2020.

British nationals and their family members who have already applied for a residence permit on the website set up for a potential no-deal Brexit do not need to reapply online. Their application has been taken into account and will be processed by the prefecture before they are required to hold a permit.

For further information, please visit the government information website

Police checks at the France-UK border

Checks carried out by French border police at crossing points on the France-UK border will remain unchanged during the transition period until 31 December 2020, both into and out of the Schengen Area.

No extra delay is therefore anticipated and the current smooth flow of travelers will be maintained.

British nationals’ right to vote and stand in municipal and European elections in France

The withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the UK contains no transitional provisions on the electoral rights of British people in member states. On the contrary, the agreement specifies that the clauses of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which provide for European citizens’ right to vote and stand in European and municipal elections, and the acts adopted on the basis of these provisions, are not applicable to the UK during the transition period set out in the agreement.

Moreover, in France the right to vote and stand in elections requires possession of French nationality or, for municipal and European elections, the nationality of a European Union member state.

Consequently, from Saturday, February 1 onwards, British nationals will cease to enjoy electoral rights in France which were linked to their European citizenship, and this will trigger their automatic removal from the electoral roll.

British nationals will therefore be unable to vote or be candidates in the municipal and communal elections of March 15 and 22, 2020.

However, British municipal councillors elected before February 1 will remain in office until their term of office expires, as there is no legal provision for their compulsory resignation.