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Official speeches and statements - September 16, 2020

Published on September 16, 2020

1. European Union - Brexit - Seat of the European Parliament - Migrants - Turkey - 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 Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France (Paris - September 13, 2020)


Boris Johnson wants to change the agreement on Brexit. Is he pushing for a clash?

THE MINISTER - On the European side, we’ve always been calm, determined, and above all very firm and very united. We’ll remain that way. If the British continue undermining the contract, with the idea of dividing Europe, it won’t work.

What do you say to the MPs who are due to vote on Johnson’s bill?

That honoring commitments made is the basis of all relationships of cooperation. The United Kingdom is a great democracy; it’s inconceivable for the Government and Parliament to go back on a text they themselves negotiated and voted for, and fail to keep their word. It’s in our shared interest to make progress and swiftly conclude an agreement on the future relationship.

Some people in London are calling for Michel Barnier’s scalp: would his departure change things?

It’s not for the British to choose the European Union’s negotiator. Michel Barnier is the right person; he’s been negotiating highly effectively from the outset. We have full confidence in him; there will be no sidelining. That’s the position of all the EU members.

In the event of a no-deal, is the French economy ready?

It would be bad news, but we’re preparing. The Prime Minister will shortly be convening the Government to speed up and intensify the preparations, under every scenario. Including a no-deal. We’ll protect French people.


The European Parliament session planned in Strasbourg next week has been cancelled and will remain in Brussels. Isn’t COVID-19 a convenient excuse?

It’s a bad decision by the European Parliament; we’ve said so to its President, David Sassoli. The Parliament’s seat is in Strasbourg, it’s written into the treaties; above all it’s a symbol of history, of Franco-German and European reconciliation. There’s no question of abandoning that. I’ll be going to Strasbourg on Monday to signal our support. We’ll work to ensure the MEPs feel good there; the State and local authorities are investing hugely - more than €180 million over three years - to improve conditions for transport and hospitality. There are legitimate health concerns, but on that point we’ve set out a very strict health protocol enabling the session to be hosted under good conditions for MEPs, staff and Strasbourgers. The cancellation is especially hard to understand given that Brussels is also in a red zone! We’re insisting on the swift return of sessions to Strasbourg in October.


The fire at the largest refugee camp on Lesbos (Greece) has revived the migrant tragedy: what can France do?

There’s the emergency and humanity response. In the coming days we’re ready to take in about 100 of the migrants who experienced the Moria Camp tragedy, particularly unaccompanied minors.

An exceptional effort, or a shift in France’s policy?

Since 2018, whenever there have been painful humanitarian emergencies, like the Aquarius or other boats, we’ve taken part in efforts to distribute the refugees who have disembarked in Italy or Malta, taking in a few hundred people. We’re the only country to do so, together with Germany. Now we must find a long-term solution. Between now and the end of September the European Commission is going to propose a permanent framework of rules, balancing responsibility with solidarity. We must both speed up returns to the countries of origin when they’re justified and ensure solidarity among Europeans so that those who have the right to asylum are also taken in by countries other than those where they’ve arrived. The countries of eastern Europe must play their part.


Is Turkey the big challenge for Europe?

Mr. Erdoğan must give up his strategy of threats and indeed aggression. There may be a discussion with Turkey about exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean, hydrocarbons, migrants etc. But it can’t be a partner today under these circumstances. So we’re asking it to adopt a negotiating framework, not a threatening posture. When it sends vessels into Cypriot waters or planes to fly over Greek or Cypriot territories to provoke or arouse concern, when it carries out even more dangerous actions in Libya, we mustn’t allow it to do so. Otherwise the provocations will get worse. And Europe would be showing its citizens that it doesn’t protect them.

And what if things get out of control between the forces deployed in the Mediterranean?

It’s not about waging war. We must calibrate things, in a proportional way, calm but firm, while remaining open for dialogue. Mr. Erdoğan knows that the time when Europeans looked on him with timidity or fear is over.

Germany seems more measured; is it a game of good cop/bad cop?

No, but we each have a different history, a different relationship with Turkey, and a different relationship to power too. But we’re getting movement on the policies; Germany has understood that the situation in the Mediterranean is serious and calls for a response.

2. United Nations - Adoption of UNSCR 2542 renewing the mandate of UNSMIL - Joint statement by Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and Ireland (New York - September 15, 2020)

The adoption of resolution 2542 this morning is important and comes at a moment of cautious optimism for Libya.

The separate statements made by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker Aguilah Saleh on 21/8 were welcome. They were encouraging first steps to overcome the stalemate. As High Representative Borrell said during his recent visit to Libya, now those statements need to be translated into concrete actions on the ground and serious, durable commitments. In this context, the outcome of the mediation talks held in Switzerland and in Morocco are positive steps towards the speedy resumption of the Libyan political process, and in line with the Berlin process. There is no military solution to the Libyan conflict: the way out of the crisis will be political, in a spirit of inclusiveness, under the auspices of the United Nations.

With the agreement today on a renewed structure for the UN mediation and a reinforced UNSMIL, all conditions are met to proceed as soon as possible with the appointment of a Special Envoy. We encourage the UN Secretary-General to appoint the Special Envoy as soon as possible and our partners within the Security Council to express their full support to the SG in this regard.

The renewal of the UNSMIL mandate also sets the parameters for a potential monitoring by UNSMIL of a possible ceasefire. The Council will soon study the options proposed by the UN in this regard.

We need to seize the current momentum to advance decisively on the 3 tracks of the UN led mediation process.

3. EU-China summit - France welcomes signature of agreement between European Union and China on geographical indications - Press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Paris - September 14, 2020)

The agreement between the EU and China on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications was signed at the EU-China summit today. This signature follows the impetus given to the negotiations by the French President’s visit to China in November 2019, in the framework of the International [Import] Expo in Shanghai, during which the political conclusion of the negotiations was announced.

This is the first bilateral agreement of this scale between the EU and China on such an issue. It secures major trade openings for French agricultural exporters, particularly of wines and spirits. The signature of the agreement is part of the EU’s overall strategy - strongly supported by France - of promoting our geographical-indications protection standards.

When it comes into force after being approved by the European Parliament, the agreement will provide a high level of protection to 100 European and 100 Chinese geographical indications (GIs) for wines, spirits and agrifood products. Twenty-six French GIs[1] will benefit from this, including some names which are among the most prestigious but also the most misused in China.

The French GIs concerned will enjoy strong safeguards:

  • the protection of GI names’ translations and transliterations in the Chinese language;
  • a rejection of third-party registrations of protected GI names as trademarks;
  • the automatic rejection of trademark applications misusing the GIs contained in the agreement, including mentions of GIs.

The agreement also stipulates that a further 175 European and Chinese geographical indications will also enjoy this protection in the four years after it comes into force.

France would like the agreement to enable a deeper sharing of knowledge between China and the European Union - which benefits from the world’s most complete geographical-indications system - and to help China strengthen and harmonize its legislation on geographical indications in the context of a reorganization of its bodies responsible for their protection.

With its European partners, France will be careful to ensure this agreement is implemented properly so that it effectively protects French geographical indications in China from imitation and trademark registration abuse.

More broadly, the signing of this agreement is consistent with France’s objectives for EU-China trade and investment relations, combining trade openness, better access to the Chinese market, fair competition conditions and reciprocity.

In Julien Denormandie’s words, "This is a historic bilateral agreement between the European Union and China. By protecting our geographical indications, which are the pride and prestige of our farmers and wine producers, it helps enhance the value of our French expertise. It also testifies to similar views shared between two geographical areas which are both very committed to respecting their particularly rich culinary heritage."

For Franck Riester, "The signing of this agreement with the world’s second-largest trading power is a milestone in recognizing our system for protecting geographical indications. In a Chinese market looking for proof of product authenticity and quality, it addresses a genuine demand and will provide added value for our exporters of agrifood products. It lays the groundwork for strengthening our economic ties with China on a basis of reciprocity and increased protection for the rights of our companies in terms of intellectual property."

[1] Alsace, Armagnac, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Chablis, Calvados, Champagne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cognac (/eau de vie de cognac/eau-de-vie des Charentes), Comté, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes de Provence, Côtes du Roussillon, Graves, Languedoc, Margaux, Médoc, Pauillac, Pays d’Oc, Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol, Pruneaux d’Agen (/Pruneaux d’Agen mi-cuits), Roquefort, Saint-Emilion, (+ Genièvre, a GI shared with the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany)