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Official speeches and statements - September 4, 2020

Published on September 4, 2020

1. International criminal court - Announcement of individual sanctions by the United States - Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian, minister for Europe and foreign affairs (Paris - September 3, 2020)

I learned of the U.S. authorities’ announcement on September 2 of individual sanctions against Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and Phakiso Mochochoko, Head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division.

On June 12, I had expressed my dismay over the U.S. Government’s adoption of the executive order of June 11, which serves as a basis for the adoption of these individual sanctions.

The measures announced on September 2 represent a serious attack on the Court and the States Parties to the Rome Statute, and beyond that, a challenge to multilateralism and the independence of the judiciary.

France reaffirms its steadfast support for the International Criminal Court and its staff, as well as the independence of the judiciary.

It calls on the United States to withdraw these measures.

France will continue to mobilize its efforts to ensure that the Court is able to fulfill its mission independently and impartially, in accordance with the Rome Statute.

2. Foreign policy - Recovery plan / Brexit / Belarus - Interview given by Mr. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to the daily newspaper Ouest-France (Paris - September 3, 2020)


The Government is presenting its recovery plan today. How does it tie in with the European plan?

THE MINISTER - The European recovery plan is a massive victory for France and the French people. The French plan being presented today, Thursday, amounts to 100 billion euros for capital expenditure, 40 billion euros of which is financed by the European plan negotiated in the summer.

Each country, very specifically, as the autumn period gets under way, is going to present its national plan and pass it to its European partners. There will then be a collective discussion to coordinate priorities and investment. So it’s a plan which is tailored to each country’s needs, but coordinated between European countries.

What are the priorities at European level?

The environment, digital technology, energy efficiency for housing, among other things. They’re found in all the national plans. And there’ll be collective validation - that’s important.

When will the validation happen?

This autumn; we’ve got to move as quickly as possible, I’ll see to this, in order to be operational at the start of 2021. The discussion between the European ministers is going to move quickly. An essential point, which we fought for, is that there’s no right of veto.

So no country will be able to oppose the French plan, for example?

No, because there’ll be majority voting. That’s normal. Money is being borrowed collectively, the discussion about how it’s used must be collective too.

Who will do the checking?

The European Commission will carry out the assessments. The European Council of Ministers will deliver an opinion, but there will be no power to block States. We’ve got to move quickly. The funds must arrive quickly on the ground so that the bulk is spent over 2021 and 2022.

Will there be a sort of final oral exam in Brussels?

No, I take issue with seeing it as an entrance exam. I’m opposed to the idea of a Europe being the teacher handing out good or bad marks. This is why we were against the right of veto. We don’t want to replicate the Troika mechanism employed during the Greece crisis.

But there’ll nevertheless be majority voting on every plan?

Yes, every plan.


After the chaos of individual country lockdowns in the winter [earlier this year], how harmonized are control measures from one country to the next?

Our aim is to avoid going back to the “everyone for themselves" mentality of the spring. So we’re doing two practical things. Firstly, I’m in constant contact with ministers from the neighboring countries to limit disruption between our countries. We’ve got 350,000 cross-border workers in France: they’ve got to cross the border to earn their living, that’s the absolute priority. And then we’re striving to get criteria harmonized at European level.

But it’s still piecemeal. London has imposed the quarantine, Berlin is advising against coming to Paris, Rome is concerned about French numbers...

The British case is an unusual one. The UK - perhaps with Brexit in mind - is unfortunately taking a political, not exclusively health-based approach to managing the crisis. We would like the quarantine measures to be lifted as swiftly as possible.


Is a no-deal Brexit possible once again?

We’ve got to prepare for every scenario. September will see us speeding up preparations for every sector.

What’s the deadline for an agreement?

Michel Barnier has talked about the end of October for feasibly reaching an exit with a deal.

Would the European recovery plan of 21 July have been possible with the British in the EU?

Quite honestly, I don’t think so. I think they’d have blocked an agreement of this nature because it testifies to a very strong European ambition.


Concerning Belarus, to what extent and how can the democratic movement be supported?

I think we’ve got to be very firm in supporting the democratic movement. We’ve been in contact with the opposition, I’ve spoken personally to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Europe must stand with these democratic movements. But as the Belarusian opposition leaders themselves say, change mustn’t come from the outside. It isn’t about shifting responsibility, but it’s in the domestic arena that freedoms and rights progress. We can act in support, and through sanctions - targeted ones, because the aim isn’t to make the Belarusian people suffer. I hope we can put these sanctions in place against those responsible for the regime’s repression in the next few days.

What sanctions?

They affect mainly their property, assets and freedom of movement. Hitting them in their pockets is the most effective way. The second important thing is to have a continuous dialogue with the Russian President. The solution mustn’t be imposed by a power like Russia either. In fact I think the best way of supporting a democratic movement in Belarus is not to make it a geopolitical issue.

3. Tunisia - Formation of the government - Statement by the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs spokesperson (Paris - September 3, 2020)

France extends its sincerest congratulations to Mr. Hichem Mechichi and his government, and wishes them every success, after the Assembly of the Representatives of the People placed its confidence in him.

The French authorities would like to continue their close dialogue with the Tunisian authorities, given the importance of the equal partnership and the friendship which unites our two countries and our two peoples.

4. Brexit - Consequences of Brexit for British nationals owning property in France - Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the National Assembly (Paris - September 1, 2020)

The situation of British nationals wishing to make short trips to France following the transition period (currently December 31, 2020), for example to visit their second home if their main residence is in the UK, is not covered by the withdrawal agreement but by the future relationship between the European Union and the UK, which is being negotiated.

If no agreement comes into force following the transition period, the situation of British nationals will be covered by a regulation adopted at European Union level, which provides for British travelers to be exempt from short-stay visas (lasting up to three months), provided the UK reciprocally grants short-stay visa exemptions to all European Union citizens. British citizens will, however, need long-stay visas for stays exceeding three months.

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