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Official speeches and statements - July 23, 2020

Published on July 23, 2020

1. European Council - Statements by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, during his joint press conference with Ms. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (Brussels - July 21, 2020)

[Check against delivery]

Thank you, Madam Chancellor, chère Angela. Let me begin by expressing my condolences and sadness following the tragedy on the A7 motorway in France. My thoughts are with the families of the five children who died, and also the families of all the other victims who are fighting for their lives.

I’ll begin of course - continuing the Chancellor’s introduction - by thanking President Charles MICHEL and President Ursula VON DER LEYEN for their commitment, their work, and obviously the work and commitment of all their teams during all those days and nights. And thank you, Madam Chancellor; as you said, not only was this summit one of the longest - perhaps the longest - in history, following several months when we didn’t meet in person, but first and foremost it was one whose conclusions are genuinely historic.

For the first time, we’ve put in place a joint borrowing capacity and a mutually supportive recovery plan. The objective we set ourselves - a total of €750 billion - met with everyone’s approval in the end. One part of this, as the Chancellor has already mentioned, comprises grants, which ended up amounting to €390 billion, a sizable sum which, moreover, will allow each country to finance a by no means insignificant part of their national plans.

This is slightly less than what the Franco-German plan was calling for, on May 18, but I want everyone to appreciate how much progress has been made on this in two months, an extremely short time in terms of European timescales. What’s more, many of our colleagues told us there were times when the Franco-German agreement of May 18 surprised them. In the space of two months, we succeeded in building a consensus so that this unprecedented recovery plan became a decision and therefore a reality. This required effort and a willingness to compromise, and I really want to thank all our colleagues who committed themselves with us to this.

All in all, we’ve practically doubled the European budget for the next three years with this recovery plan. It’s this scale we’ve got to keep in mind, and let’s also appreciate how much ground has been covered here when, in February, we were deadlocked on a budget some were wanting to reduce to 1% of European GDP. Now we have something, with the budget and recovery plan, which is almost 2% of European GDP.

These long negotiations were characterized by difficulties, sometimes clashes, and different perceptions of Europe. But I’m delighted that the Chancellor and I always championed ambition and cooperation. For me, it’s thanks to all the work we’ve done over the past four days, and the past few months and years as well. When Germany and France pull together, they can’t achieve everything, but if they don’t pull together, nothing is possible. During those two months I mentioned, we’ve really made great strides together in terms of European unity. I’m convinced that this plan and this budget are likely to address the health, economic and social challenges we face in each of our countries today, and that deciding, in a way, not to address them would have meant deciding to spend much more money in a few months’ or years’ time.

I also want to highlight the results achieved in other important areas. We promoted the requirement for a budget of which at least 30% would be devoted to climate-related spending, so a budget consistent with the Green Deal decided a few months ago. We defended our traditional policies, such as agricultural policy, which has had its budget increased, stabilized compared to the current budget for Europe, and is extremely important as regards security and food sovereignty, a cohesion policy, which is also being maintained, and all future policies, as the Chancellor pointed out, which are seeing their budget increased.

I want to conclude here by stressing the most important thing, namely that we’ve passed a milestone thanks to several months and years of work and commitment together. The Meseberg stage, which we reached in spring 2018, basically laid the foundations for this joint commitment.

This is the first common budgetary capacity we’ve established at this level, basing it on a common debt instrument for new projects and opening up the prospect of additional budgetary own resources. It’s an objective of solidarity and responsibility because there’s a planned repayment schedule, since future generations alone shouldn’t be burdened with all this, so it’s a desire to invest together. It’s what will allow us to tackle the social, economic and environmental challenges facing our Europe.

2. China - Uighur situation - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - July 21, 2020)

France is looking very carefully at all the evidence, all the documents being relayed by the press - particularly today - and also by human rights organizations about the situation in Xinjiang.

What comes through in all the reports we’ve received or are reading is internment camps for Uighurs, mass detentions, disappearances, forced labor, forced sterilization, the destruction of Uighur cultural heritage and especially places of worship, surveillance of the population and, more generally, the whole punitive system put in place in that region.

We’ve expressed our serious concerns on many occasions - you’ve seen our statements - about the human rights situation in that province, asking specifically and officially, and I repeat this here, for the internment camps to be closed down.

All these practices are unacceptable because they go against the universal principles enshrined in the major international human rights conventions, so we very strongly condemn them.

At every opportunity, in our bilateral contacts with the Chinese authorities, President Macron, I and others reiterate this demand. And we do this in the UN bodies as well, such as the Human Rights Council, urging the authorities to end detentions in Xinjiang’s camps.

For the moment we are quite simply asking China to allow independent international observers access to the area and also allow the High Commissioner for Human Rights freely to visit Xinjiang.

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