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Official speeches and statements - May 19, 2020

Published on May 19, 2020

1. European Union - French-German initiative for the European recovery from the coronavirus crisis (Paris - May 18, 2020)

The current crisis is unprecedented in the history of the European Union. No life, no workplace, no business remains unaffected from this global shock. While our societies and our economies are in the process of finding their way out of the lockdown, uncertainties remain extraordinarily large. Our goal, however, is clear: Europe will weather this crisis together and come out of it stronger than before. Achieving a sustainable recovery for the EU guides our joint efforts. We, France and Germany, are fully committed to live up to our responsibility for the EU and we will help pave the way out of the crisis.

To this end, more than ever, we need to benefit from the strength of acting together as Europeans and to join our forces in ways we have not used before.

We will also need to carry out an in-depth reflection on the lessons we need to draw from this crisis. The Conference on the Future of Europe will offer an opportunity to open a large democratic debate on the European project, its reforms and priorities.

France and Germany propose the following measures.

A/ Developing our strategic health sovereignty with an EU "Health Strategy"

Our response to the current crisis and to future health crises should build upon a new European approach based on strategic health sovereignty. We strive for a strategically positioned European healthcare industry which will, in full respect of the m ember States’ responsibility for their social security and healthcare systems, upgrade the European dimension of healthcare and reduce EU dependency. We shall therefore:

  • increase European capacities on research and development for vaccines and treatments, as well as coordinating and financing at the international level (ACT-A initiative), with the short term goal to develop and produce a coronavirus vaccine within the European Union, ensuring its global access;
  • establish common strategic stocks of medicines and medical products (protective equipments, testing kits etc.) and encourage production capacities of these products in the European Union;
  • coordinate European procurement policies regarding future vaccines and treatments (eg. production and stockpiling of future potential vaccines), in order to speak with one voice with the pharmaceutical industry and secure more effectively European and global access;
  • set up an EU "Health Task Force" within the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and mandate it, with national health institutions, to develop prevention and reaction plans against future epidemics;
  • establish common European standards for health data interoperability (e.g. harmonizing methodology to have comparable statistics on cases in epidemics).

B/ Setting up an ambitious "Recovery Fund" at the EU level for solidarity and growth

To support a sustainable recovery that restores and enhances growth in the EU, Germany and France support an ambitious, temporary and targeted Recovery Fund in the framework of the next MFF, boosting a frontloaded MFF during its first years. Given the exceptional nature of the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic for economies across the EU, France and Germany propose to allow the European Commission to finance such recovery support by borrowing on markets on behalf of the EU under the provision of a legal basis in full respect of the EU Treaty, budgetary framework and rights of national parliaments.

  • The Recovery Fund of euro500 billion will provide EU budgetary expenditure for the most affected sectors and regions on the basis of EU budget programs and in line with European priorities. It will enhance the resilience, convergence and competitiveness of the European economies, and increase investments in particular in the digital and green transitions and strengthening research and innovation.
  • The Recovery Fund financing will be targeted at the challenges of the pandemic crisis and its aftermath. It will be an extraordinary complementary provision, integrated in the own resource decision, with a clearly specified volume and expiry and linked to a binding repayment plan beyond the current MFF on the EU budget.
  • A swift agreement on the MFF and Recovery Fund as a package is necessary to address the major EU challenges. The negotiations will build on the progress reached until February. We will strive to make the budgetary effort related to coronavirus-crisis available as soon as possible.
  • This recovery support complements national efforts and the package agreed by the Eurogroup, and will be based on a clear commitment of member States to follow sound economic policies and an ambitious reform agenda.
  • Improving the framework for fair taxation in the EU remains a priority, in particular by introducing effective minimum taxation and fair taxation of the digital economy within the Union, ideally based on a successful conclusion of the OECD work, and establishing a Common Corporate Tax Base.

C/ Speeding up the green and digital transitions

Now is the time to boost the modernization of European economy and its business models. In this spirit, we reaffirm the European Green Deal as the EU’s new growth strategy and a blueprint for a prosperous and resilient economy on the way to carbon-neutrality by 2050. At the same time, we must accelerate digitalization with the aim of transforming the new dynamics experienced during the crisis into sustainable digital progress and digital sovereignty. To this end we shall:

  • increase the EU targets of emission reduction in 2030 in synchrony with a package of efficient measures to avoid carbon leakage; the proposal announced by the Commission on a carbon border adjustment mechanism must be supplemental to existing instruments and in line with WTO law. State-aid rules should be reviewed in light of more ambitious climate policy and carbon leakage;
  • support the introduction of minimum carbon pricing in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and work towards the prospective introduction of a cross-sectoral European ETS;
  • set up for each sector a green recovery road map, including, where appropriate, climate and environmental targets and/or conditionalities;
  • accelerate digitalization, i.a. by roll-out of 5G, efforts for secure and trustworthy infrastructures and cybersecurity technologies, digital identity management, an enabling framework for AI, as well as a fair EU regulation for digital platforms.

D/ Enhancing EU economic and industrial resilience and sovereignty and give a new impulse to the single market

The strong integration within the single market is a guarantor of our welfare. A restart of the European economy and adapting it to the challenges of the future requires a resilient and sovereign economy and industrial base as well as a strong single market. Open markets, free and fair trade are a crucial part of the solution. We therefore shall:

  • support the diversification of supply chains through the promotion of an ambitious and balanced free trade agenda with the WTO at its core and including new initiatives, inter alia on trade of health products, develop our anti-subventions mechanisms, ensure effective reciprocity for public procurement with third countries and strengthen EU and national investment screening towards non-EU investors in strategic sectors (including health - pharmaceuticals, biotech etc.), while at the same time encouraging investments (re)located in the EU;
  • adjust the Commission’s industrial strategy to the recovery and in particular modernize the European competition policy by accelerating the adaptation of State aid and competition rules and speeding up the implementation of IPCEIs;
  • ensure swift return to a fully functioning internal market and deepen it further by a new road map to create a fully integrated market in key areas (esp. digital, energy, capital markets) with clear milestones and an accelerated legislative agenda;
    ensure the full functioning of the Schengen area, improving coordination obligations between member States in times of crisis and strengthening common external borders;
  • reinforce social convergence and speed up the discussion on the EU framework for minimum wages adapted to national situations.

[Source of English text: German Foreign Ministry]

2. Israel - Investiture of the Government - Statement by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - May 19, 2020)

France extends its congratulations to Mr Benjamin Natanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, and Mr Benjamin Gantz, Deputy Prime Minister, on their investiture and that of their government. In the spirit of friendship and cooperation prevailing over French-Israeli relations, France reaffirms its desire to continue working with the new Israeli Government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and in the many substantive areas of our relations, as well as its unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and, alongside Israel, to regional security.

In this respect, France reaffirms its commitment to a fair, lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With this in mind, it calls on the Israeli authorities to refrain from any unilateral measure which would lead to the annexation of all or part of the Palestinian Territories. As the European Union’s High Representative Josep Borrell said, such a decision would violate international law and seriously undermine the two-state solution. This could not be without consequences for the European Union’s relations with Israel. France remains fully prepared to support any effort aimed at resuming negotiations between the parties, the only path towards peace, security and regional stability.

3. United Nations - Libya - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council (New York - May 19, 2020)

First, I would like to thank the Acting SRSG Stéphanie Williams and Ambassador Schulz for their briefings.

In the context of the covid-19 pandemic, we call the Libyan parties to cease hostilities and find a political solution to the conflict.

Both parties should formally endorse the draft ceasefire agreement concluded on February 23 within the framework of the "5+5" joint military committee. This draft ceasefire agreement is a Libyan owned document and has been agreed upon by delegates from both camps.

It is also important that a new meeting of the 5+5 joint military committee takes place as soon as possible and without preconditions, with a view to finalizing this agreement and to establishing the sub-committees on structural issues, such as the dismantling of militias.

These are the messages the French Foreign Minister conveyed to the Libyan leaders from both camps.

A durable ceasefire should be put in place and monitored by the UN and we have noted positively the proposal that was made to agree on a truce during the holy month of Ramadan, approved by the LNA. There is no military solution in Libya and, in that regard, we condemn the bombing of civilian areas in Tripoli. Both parties should refrain from fueling tensions and avoid any escalation, whereas military interferences should cease.

In that regard, we regret that no element on the monitoring of a possible ceasefire by UNSMIL was included in the most recent Secretary-General’s report, in the absence of a specific report, which was requested by the Security Council in resolution 2510.

We call on the parties to resume inclusive political talks as soon as possible under the auspices of the UN.

Core issues such as elections, the type of constitution, the articulation of the civil and the military will have to be discussed in priority. This political dialogue should be relaunched with the active participation of Libya’s neighboring countries and of the African Union, the League of Arab states and the European Union.

We should collectively support the implementation of reforms of economic and financial institutions, starting with the audit of the central bank of Libya, in order to restore its sound and transparent governance.

The fair allocation of oil resources and the lifting of the oil blockade are also matters of priority.

The Security Council and, more broadly, the UN should remain fully mobilized to find a solution to the Libyan crisis.

The French authorities have continued their dialogue with all Libyan parties in order to find that solution, in support of the efforts led by the UN mediation.

In this regard, we call on the Secretary-General to appoint a new SRSG as soon as possible. It has been almost three months since the resignation of Mr. Ghassan Salamé.

We also welcome the deployment by the EU of operation EUNAVFORMED-IRINI, which will implement the arms embargo that is continuously violated by both sides and thus help implementing the outcome of the Berlin Conference and UNSCR 2510. IRINI will operate strictly within the framework of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. In that regard, the renewal by the Security Council of the mechanism created by UNSCR 2292 is absolutely essential.

France will remain fully committed and engaged to finding a political solution in Libya. Thank you.

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