Official speeches and statements - November 9, 2020
1. Tightening of border controls - Schengen Area - Statement by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on counter-terrorism and tighter border controls - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Le Perthus - November 5, 2020)
[check against delivery]
Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m pleased to be here with ministers to signal our determination to continue taking action on all fronts to fight terrorism. As you know, several Islamist terrorist attacks hit our country again recently. For the past three years, we’ve carried out resolute action on this issue, which has allowed us to thwart 32 planned attacks on our soil, it has also allowed us to step up the fight against terrorist networks and has allowed us at the practical level - with the active efforts of all the ministries and in coordination with the Interior Ministry - to increase action just as much to combat all these extremist networks and cells working on our soil in conjunction or closely with terrorists and this radical Islamism.
We have decided to step up this work, and I presented the strategy of this in Les Mureaux at the beginning of October, with the determination to go further, both as regards short-term concrete action and also through a bill which will be presented at the Council of Ministers’ meeting on 9 December 2020. But we know this action will also involve combating international networks and that effectively combating Islamist terrorism means also combating the networks of traffickers who have links to these terrorists, who are sometimes terrorists themselves, who use drug trafficking and people trafficking to strengthen their actions and sometimes take direct action.
This is also why, back in 2015 when we suffered attacks, France got the European Commission, in the framework of the Schengen agreements, to tighten our controls on Schengen’s internal borders. We’ve decided - precisely in view of the evolving threat and the decisions taken last week on Vigipirate - to very significantly step up our internal Schengen border controls.
So we’ve decided to double the number of forces to be deployed at the borders as part of these controls. This means we’ll go from 2,400 to 4,800 police officers, gendarmes and soldiers who will be mobilized in this framework and the CRS [State security police force] to combat illegal immigration. This doubling of our forces will very directly contribute, in particular, to the stepping-up of our action here on the Spanish border, because four mobile units are being deployed.
We’ve seen the first ones, right here, and, Mr Mayor, you’ll see changes to your daily lives, because we’ve got to thoroughly increase these efforts. We’re doing this firstly in very close coordination with, in particular, our Italian and Spanish friends - and we’ve seen this here too, through joint brigades and coordinated action -, and with the other State services - I also want to pay tribute here to the role and commitment of Customs. And we’ll see this in a moment in, precisely, the coordination unit, because it’s this work done by all the internal security forces, soldiers and Customs officers which will enable us to combat all these kinds of trafficking effectively.
We are taking this decision in all conscience, given the increased threat. This is why I have decided to double our border forces. We’ll complement this action by taking initiatives to enhance Europe’s external border controls. As you know, for several years now we’ve had a common area we call Schengen. I’m in favour - and I’ll be making initial proposals to this end at the December Council - of us radically reforming Schengen, to rethink the way it’s organized and increase our common protection at the borders with a genuine security police force at the [Schengen] Area’s external borders, while also making our rules more closely integrated and managing to get our home affairs and security ministers to work together so that Europe operates in a much more integrated way on the issue. This is the second aspect of the response to the evolving risk we’re seeing and it’s what will allow us to protect our common borders much more effectively.
That’s what I wanted to bring to your attention. I think these decisions, firstly, are totally in keeping with what we’ve been doing for three years, but they also take account of the evolving threat. The attacks which France has experienced and which Austria experienced a few days ago in Vienna, show us that the terrorist risk is everywhere, networks are globalized and terrorists are now organizing themselves worldwide through networks on the one hand - the Internet and social media -, but also by sending operatives across borders.
This requires Europe to step up its response. France is doing this with its own borders by doubling the number of forces present. Europe must now do so; this is the initiative we’ll be taking for the December Council with the determination for things to be finalized under France’s [EU] presidency.
 Under the Vigipirate Plan, the armed forces contribute to averting threats and taking preventive measures against potential terrorist action.
France expresses its very strong concern over the military advance toward the town of Shushi as the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh continues. The continued shelling of urban areas is unacceptable, given the risk of civilian casualties.
As President Macron and his Russian counterpart agreed this morning, we expect the parties to immediately resume their implementation of the humanitarian ceasefire commitments made repeatedly before the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, most recently on October 31 in Geneva.