Q. – You’ll soon be taking off from Paris, bound for Washington. You’re accompanying President François Hollande for a state visit to the United States, the first state visit since 1996. (…) What will the purpose of this trip be?
THE MINISTER – It’s a very important trip, because France currently has a very high political standing in the United States, particularly thanks to its foreign policy. So things will go well, and we’re extremely happy about this trip.
Q. – There are problems even so! They spied on us…
THE MINISTER – Let’s take the problems one at a time. As regards spying, yes, there was behaviour which wasn’t solely directed against France, but which was unacceptable. So there’s been a discussion – which isn’t over, by the way – but there are things that are established: namely that the United States – verifiably – will no longer spy on the French President.
Q. – Are we sure of that?
THE MINISTER – Yes, we’re also taking measures to confirm it, but thereare still things to sort out. The other aspect is the tax dispute, which depends on Europe… (…)
Q. – So François Hollande – you’ll be accompanying him – will see all the heads of those companies, those people who create…
THE MINISTER – Yes, we’re going to see them in San Francisco.
Q. – Will you explain to them the 75% tax existing in France?
THE MINISTER – They’re aware of it, but they also know that in terms of innovation, many things are being done in France, and we really want to put the emphasis on that. We have excellent researchers and students. So we must encourage them to create in France – hence the responsibility pact; we’re always coming back to that.
Q. – The United States, a country that exploits shale gas: should we be inspired by the American example?
THE MINISTER – I don’t think so, but when you look…
Q. – Ah, they’re wrong…
THE MINISTER – No, but they haven’t got the same territorial situation at all.
Q. – Well, they fracture the rock, and so…
THE MINISTER – Yes, with damage to the environment.
Q. – Yes, so they’re wrong…
THE MINISTER – If you look at the American economic renewal, which is undeniable, part of it is due to energy, particularly shale gas, part is due to the development of life sciences – genomics, genetics – and part is what we’re going to see, which is due to the tremendous development of the digital sector. And so we must encourage everything creative, absolutely.
Q. – And I come back to shale gas and your colleague Montebourg, who says: we should be inspired by the United States…
THE MINISTER – My position is simple: the current system of hydraulic fracturing is bad for the environment, so that’s not the one that must be used. However, it seems to me natural for research to be done to find out if there’s another opportunity for exploiting shale gas.
Q. – Ah, so would you agree to there being tests with fluoropropane, because that’s the technique? Would you agree to that?
THE MINISTER – If there are tests that have no adverse consequences.
As you know, the history of progress and the history of the left is always a history open to scientific reality, provided, of course, that we protect the environment. I’m responsible for hosting the big climate conference next year; we’re going to discuss it with the Americans. So it’s not for France to set a bad example. On the other hand, being open about research, yes, very much so. (…)./.