Official speeches and statements - July 18, 2017
Prime Minister of Israel, cher Bibi, thank you for what you have said.
Members of the Government,
President of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France,
President of the association of the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France,
President of the Union of Auschwitz Deportees,
President of the Foundation for Holocaust Remembrance,
President of the French Committee of Yad Vashem,
Mayor of Paris,
Members of Parliament,
Representatives of the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am here with you today on this dark and solemn occasion to perpetuate the guiding thread initiated in 1995 by Jacques Chirac, to whom I would like to pay particular tribute today, and maintained by Dominique de Villepin in 2005, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Fillon in 2007 and, lastly, continued by François Hollande in 2012.
Just recently, what we considered to be established by the authorities of the French Republic across party lines, proven by all historians and confirmed by the national conscience, was contested by French political leaders prepared to trample on the truth. Responding to these counterfeiters is to do them too much honor, but to leave them unanswered would be worse, making us accomplices.
So yes, I will say this here: it is France that organized the round-up, subsequent deportation and, consequently, for almost all of them, the death of the 13,152 French Jews dragged from their homes on July 16 and 17, 1942. More than 8,000 were taken to the Vel d’Hiv before being deported to Auschwitz. Among them were 4,115 children aged between 2 and 16 years, whose memory we are today honoring most particularly and for whom I would like us to observe a minute’s silence.
(All stand and observe a minute’s silence)
I condemn all the tricks and subtleties of those who claim today that Vichy was not France, as Vichy, of course, did not represent all French people, as you have recalled, but it was France’s government and administration.
The crimes of July 16 and 17, 1942 were the work of the French police, obeying the orders of the Government of Pierre Laval, the General Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, and of Prefect René Bousquet.
Not a single German took part.
I also condemn those who practice relativism, explaining that exonerating France from responsibility for the Vel d’Hiv round-up would be a good thing. And that would mean following in the footsteps of General de Gaulle and François Mitterrand who never said a word about this subject. But there are truths that can be bridled by the state of society with trauma still raw for some, while others remained in denial.
The stark tears in French society meant that appeasement and reconciliation prevailed over the truth. Our societies thus allow themselves respite during which the work of remembrance remains underground, during which people recover their strength and reconcile little by little to rebuild, before finding the words of truth that will genuinely heal them. And before finding the collective courage to face mistakes and crimes.
That is why we are not here to judge the decision made by these two Heads of State, both of whom were actors of the Second World War and its complexities. But we also need to remember that it is François Mitterrand who established this day of remembrance, and that during all these years the underground combat of so many people went on, to ensure that nothing was forgotten.
And then time did its work.
Witnesses and survivors spoke, archives opened, historians worked. Society ripens tragedies and grief. And then the truth emerges; it is implacable, irrevocable. No-one can escape it. Hiding or belittling it is an insult to our collective memory.
By acknowledging its faults, France has opened the way to repairing them. That is to its honor. That is the sign of a strong nation that can face its past. That is the courage of a people not afraid to examine its conscience and reach out to the victims and their children. Reaching out and reforming ties does not mean humiliating ourselves through some sort of repentance. It is standing tall and being strong.
I know that there are those who will say that days like today, and words like those that I just pronounced are a reminder of the humiliations of our country, and that it is an indecent repentance. None of that is true. This is an essential act of remembrance and history, it is our responsibility, our responsibility to completely reconcile our people, even in the darkest pages of our history, so that everyone can at last find their place.
Knowing where we failed, who failed, also means remembering with greater pride those who said ‘no’, and those who reached out to their fellow people in humility and humanity.
So yes, today, we are also thinking of those who were already, in 1942, engaged in France’s internal and external resistance, and who paid for their clandestine combat with their lives.
They were a great harvest of heroes that saved France and its honor. We are also remembering all those French people who offered persecuted Jews a welcoming refuge and a safe hiding place, enabling three quarters of France’s Jews not to suffer the terrible end of those seized on 16 July. We are remembering all those Righteous with pride, that pride that has since become part of our national pride as a whole.
But in parallel to all these heroes, there was Vichy, the French State. For the France represented by the French State did not replace the France of the Third Republic overnight. Ministers, officials, civil servants, economic leaders, managers and professors of the Third Republic provided the majority of Field Marshal Pétain’s personnel. Then everyone set out on their path towards active or passive obedience, or to Resistance.
That the Vichy Government could count on the country’s forces to conduct its policy of collaboration is a fact. The idea that Vichy was a mere parenthesis, opened in 1940 and closed in 1945 supports the high idea that some have of France.
It is easy to view Vichy as a monstrosity that grew out of nothing and returned to nothingness, to believe that these people came out of nowhere and received just punishment at the liberation that eliminated them from the national community.
It is easy, so easy... but it is wrong.
And no pride can be built on a lie.
I am going to tell you why it is important not to feed this idea, why we must always remember that the French State of Pétain and Laval was not just an unpredictable aberration born of exceptional circumstances.
Because Vichy and its doctrine unleashed the vices that were already a stain on the Third Republic: racism and anti-Semitism.
Today, I want these two words, that are sometimes bandied around to resonate with all their force. I want us to hear loud and clear the abomination and misery that they bear, for these children whose names and ages we just saw written on the wall of the Memorial Garden of the Vel d’Hiv Children were victims of nothing other than racism and anti-Semitism.
Racism because their parents were foreign when they, themselves, were mostly French.
Anti-Semitism because they were rounded up as Jews.
The suffering of these children whose faces Serge Klarsfeld – whom I would like to once again thank most solemnly – has patiently brought together in a book that cannot be read without tears and unspeakable disgust, is the suffering not only of your children, my dear Serge, but of our children.
The suffering of these children, from when they were dragged from their families, from their arrival in this immense boiler that was the Vel d’Hiv where, for several days, they had nothing to share but distress, without food and without water until the fire brigade Captain Pierret – later nominated Righteous Among the Nations – insisted that it was provided;
From the moment when they were deported to transit camps, distraught, from that day and that moment of total pain when they were separated from their parents, because Pierre Laval wanted whole families to be captured together, but not to travel together;
Until they were loaded into sealed wagons for an apocalyptic journey, bringing them upon their arrival to cries, unanswered calls, blows, screams, the driest, darkest solitude and a death of obscene violence, before their lifeless bodies – children’s bodies – were humiliated in oven and ashes;
This suffering – their suffering – beggars belief and cannot be put into words. It began here, in the morning on July 16, 1942, because in France, in the consciences of French citizens, French political leaders, French officials and French journalists, anti-Semitism and racism had insidiously, slowly sown their seed, making the disgraceful tolerable and even evident, making it a State policy: the policy of collaboration.
That, all that, is what made such an absolute atrocity possible.
Yet neither racism nor anti-Semitism were born with the Vichy regime. They were there, alive and present under the Third Republic. The Dreyfus affair showed their virulence. The 1930s gave them new momentum through the emergence of intellectuals, parties and newspapers that made them their doctrine.
It is the France of the weekly Je suis partout and the book Bagatelles pour un massacre, the France where Louis Darquier de Pellepoix – him already – could proclaim with impunity in 1937: “We need to resolve the Jewish problem urgently, either by expulsion or by massacre”. It is the France where anti-Semitism metastasized in the elite and in society, insidiously preparing minds for the worst.
Because yes, my friends, barbarism does not advance in the open. It does not wear a uniform. And when the Nazi boots marched on Paris streets, it was already too late.
Barbarism forms first and foremost in people’s minds. Ideas and words gradually break down barriers in our consciences, break down civilization, and accustom us to listening to and accepting words that we should not even hear.
Hitler was not primarily the Third Reich. He was not 1933. First and foremost, Hitler was Mein Kampf. Vichy was not the starting point for anything and it was France’s weakness that let the cancer spread. But Vichy was not the end of anything either.
I know that we all make a point of fighting anything that could lead to the same situation. But we must open our eyes and look reality in the face. In today’s France, the corruption of minds and moral and intellectual weakness that racism and anti-Semitism represent are still present, and notably so. They take new shapes, new faces and choose more surreptitious wording.
You only need to stop for a moment, however, to see, behind the new façade, the racism of old, the entrenched vein of anti-Semitism.
Ordinary racism abounds with words and caricatures. It closes the doors to jobs for young people stigmatized for their name or surname. Global conflicts can be found within the borders of our Republic, creating divides which hound young Jews from certain schools or force immigrant families to withdraw into their own communities.
And then one day, because we kept quiet, because we did not wish to see, words become actions. It is then that words – which for some were just hate articulated differently, and for others were a form of cowardice or unwillingness to open their eyes – are transformed into lives cut short and actions that kill.
Ilan Halimi, Jonathan Sandler and his two sons Arieh and Gabriel, Myriam Monsonego, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, François-Michel Saada, Yoav Hattab paid with their lives. As did Brahim Bouarram. And Father Hamel. And despite her murderer’s denials, justice must now uphold the whole truth on the true reason for Sarah Halimi’s death.
Every desecrated or vandalised synagogue, mosque, church, temple, cemetery must be a warning to us.
Worldwide conspiracy theories, delusions about global finance, insidious iconography, identity crises bringing out the most toxic of clichés are all spreading at great speed and are reaching gullible or porous minds.
Racism and anti-Semitism have unprecedented means of propaganda at their disposal to carry out their insidious work. Social networks are the great purveyors or such propaganda and we are yet to understand the scope of their influence. Our magistrates and law enforcement agencies must be better trained in this matter.
So yes, we are indeed fighting, fighting thanks to your indispensable work to uncover the bright trace of the martyrs, their names, surnames, ages, addresses, everything that provides a link, no matter how tenuous, between these shattered lives and our reality, reminding us that barbarity happens here, on the street corner.
What the Klarsfelds have achieved towards this over decades is crucial and deserves our deep-held gratitude.
We are fighting, we are fighting by refusing to allow abject remarks which debase people’s minds to go unpunished.
We are fighting to ensure that the perpetrators do not win. In 1978, L’Express found Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the same as ever, exiled in Spain. As if still possessed by an anti-Semitic demon, he showed now regret for his zealous work in favour of deportation. He even maintained that lice were the only things gassed at Auschwitz. He was, however, confronted, at a time when silence was largely upheld, by the intransigent and unsurpassed voice of Simone Veil, breaking the near silence that she had observed on the topic until that moment. That same year, Serge Klarsfeld published his “Memorial to the Jews Deported from France”.
Such actions are invaluable at a time when the vile monster is coming out of the shadows. Simone Veil’s work, her outcries and fundamental fights, have now come to an end. As she closed her eyes one last time, she knew that her voice would continue to be heard through her son, Pierre-François, who, for the last two years, has chaired the French Committee of Yad Vashem.
But we are wrong in saying this, their voices will never die. They will never die because we have decided to keep them alive, and we have decided once and for all that these voices, voices which some did not wish to hear for so many decades, will never cover up the baseless comments nor the guilty silence. Their voices will never die.
These voices also belonged to Samual Pisar, who left us in 2015, and Elie Wiesel and Jean-Raphaël Hirsch, who both passed away in 2016. Today, my thoughts also turn to Heni Malberg who narrowly escaped the raid and who passed away only three days ago.
In our world where religious wars are reappearing, where ethnic conflicts are being rekindles, where intolerance and sectarianism are joining forces, we must do all we can to ensure humankind does not accept to fall so low.
How valuable, then, are the examples set by those deported who, in the camps, plunged into abject misery, haunted by the shadow of death, lifted themselves beyond the survival instincts their captors wished to reduce them to, to treat, nourish and clothe their unfortunate companions and sometimes even paint and draw like Léon Delarbre or Boris Taslitzky, to keep a diary like Etty Hillesum, to compose quartets or operas like Germaine Tillion and with them the only documentation of their memory of conferences on Proust, Michelangelo and natural sciences.
Some say that it was all invented to keep themselves alive, but this was not the case. They had understood that they had been denied was not simply life, fading little by little to a slow death, but their humanity, our humanity. And that every day, despite their emaciated, exhausted state, they defended our civilization, our history, our artists, a language or philosophy, and in so doing they refused to give an inch to this civilization, because what was at stake was not survival, it was a full, complete life, it was the defense in each of these places of the humanity that every one of those individuals in that moment truly embodied. This shall never be forgotten.
We, today, have only one task: be worthy of what these people did in the time of deepest darkness, worthy of this inner humanity that they showed when everything was done precisely to kill their humanity. Every day, every minute, we must be worthy, like the Holocaust survivors whose example gives us so much. Because our Republic is indeed this project of a humanity which is constantly being reinvented, searching for the best of itself through inclusion, through culture, through education.
Chasing away the shadows of racism and anti-Semitism requires us to be unfaltering, to never settle for a Republic that is content to merely oversee proceedings, to never have other believe that accepting certain statements would be good for the unity of the country, we would be tantamount to letting the wounds heal over. Never give an inch to this humanity, give nothing because every time it calls the humanity of each individual into question.
Because every nation runs the risk of sleepwalking and accepting the unacceptable by habit, by apathy.
We must never allow economic constraints to let us give up on the places which give rise to the worst abuses. We must never compromise on education, we must never compromise on transmission, we must never compromise on culture, we must never compromise on the fight against obscurantism and ignorance. We must tirelessly support those who work on the ground.
We must never compromise on what unites us, all the projects which live up to the humanity that our time offers us: bringing democracy to life, helping the destitute, seizing the global ambition to fight climate change, provide the best possible welcome for refugees forced to flee from war... because all these causes, all of them make us better people.
This battle is also that that we are fighting, and that we will continue to fight everywhere, together, Prime Minister, against dark terrorism and the worst forms of fanaticism, against all those who want us to forget what I just recalled.
So yes, we will cede no ground to messages of hate and we will cede no ground to anti-Zionism, for it is a mere reinvention of anti-Semitism. And we will cede no ground to all those who, on all continents, seek to make us give up freedom, seek to recreate division, seek to make us abandon our humanity, our democracy and our Republic.
My friends, we must not lose sight of the very vocation of our country, uniting all citizens and giving everyone their place, their dignity and their meaning. For that is the best means we have to oppose the powerful dissolving force of racist and anti-Semitic hate. It is from the absence of hope and the feeling of purposelessness and neglect that are born the fears and hatreds that arise between us. We must combat all these hatreds based on who we are, where we come from and what we believe.
And we must not allow ourselves to be convinced by the prophets of woe who spend their time telling us that the horizon is dark, that hope is vain, and that France is running out of time – and has perhaps already disappeared, that it has become accustomed to this violence and division, and who pick scapegoats. For they are also, in these words and ideas, the sources of despair and discord. The Republic stands strong because it is capable or protecting all its children, the Republic stands strong because it can look its whole past in the face, and the Republic stands strong because it does not give up – and will never give up – anything of what makes it what it is or any of its values. The Republic stands strong because we will always prefer the “vigilant dream” of the poet Éluard.
The children of the Vel d’Hiv would have loved to go to the school of the Republic, to obtain certificates, find a trade, found a family, and to read and go to shows. They would have loved to learn and travel. And their parents would have loved to see them grow up, and grow old together. They would all have wanted to love and be loved. We have given them back names, ages and addresses.
I want to say to these children that France has not forgotten them. I want to say that France loves them. I want to say that France will do everything possible so that their suffering is a constant counsel not to give in to hatred, bitterness or despair.
My children, we will build a France where you would have wanted to live.
My children, we will build a France where you will always live.
Long live the Republic, long live France.
2. Israel - Bilateral relations / Palestinian Territories / Syria - Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel (Paris - July 16, 2017)
I want to begin by apologizing for the delay to this press conference, due to part of the Vel d’Hiv ceremony, which we both attended, overrunning, and also to a long, lively discussion, which was fully justified.
I’m very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Elysée Palace today, and I wanted to thank you, Prime Minister, for coming here after we both attended and gave speeches at the ceremony to pay tribute together to the victims of the Vel d’Hiv roundup (1).
The visit is consistent with our two countries’ active relationship. Incidentally, we had a telephone conversation the day after my election, on May 8. We saw each other in Strasbourg on July 1 in the margins of the tribute to Mr Kohl. And I very much appreciate your being here today, as I told you earlier, for what was a very moving ceremony, and I think it was important for many people that you were able to be there and then at this meeting we’ve just had.
First and foremost, I want to extend my condolences to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning on the deaths of two Israeli police officers on Friday in an attack in Jerusalem, and reiterate here that France condemns this heinous act and stands shoulder to shoulder with the victims’ families and their close friends, and we denounce—as we do consistently every time, very strongly and steadfastly—any kind of violence.
MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT / TWO-STATE SOLUTION
In this respect, France recalls—and I want to do so officially and personally—the unfailing, unconditional support for Israel’s security. As such I also call for a resumption of the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in the search for a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure, recognized borders, with Jerusalem as the capital. This is the line constantly taken by French diplomacy, which I’m deeply committed to and, as such, France is ready to support all diplomatic efforts aimed at this in accordance with the parameters for peace recognized by the international community. Prime Minister Netanyahu and I obviously talked about this just now; for this to happen it’s important to ensure that the conditions for negotiation and for peace aren’t actually undermined and that everyone abides by international law, and I’m thinking here of the continued settlement activity; we discussed this point and I reiterated France’s position and my position on the subject.
I genuinely hope that, in the international context we have today, everything can be done to move these negotiations forward, and that of course the nature of the regional risk and of the recomposition under way may enable new negotiations to begin on these issues.
The Prime Minister and I talked at great length about the Middle East situation and all the regional issues. And I must say here—and I share Israel’s concerns about the arming of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon—that we’re seeking and will seek Lebanon’s stability, with due regard for all its communities, and that on this subject I intend to continue the diplomatic action which will limit, reduce and eradicate this risk.
SYRIA / TERRORISM
We quite obviously talked about Syria, where the conflict has lasted over six years, killed hundreds of thousands of people and created millions of refugees; I reaffirmed to the Prime Minister the need, in my view, to set in train an inclusive, lasting transition in Syria to guarantee the region’s security, allow the return of refugees and seek a just peace for Syrians.
The fact that our two countries see very much eye to eye on these issues is prompted by a concern to ensure security and stability throughout the region. We’re also united in the fight against terrorist groups, whatever they are, and here I want to say and repeat that I will work tirelessly on this because these groups have been so active over the past few months and years with, obviously, the consequences for the region, for Europe and our country that we’re aware of.
IRAN / NUCLEAR AGREEMENT
The Prime Minister also expressed his concerns to me about the Iranian regime, and I assured him of our vigilance particularly as regards the strict implementation of all the provisions in the nuclear agreement signed in July 2015, but with the desire to get a rigorous dialogue under way with Israel on monitoring this protocol.
As you’ve understood, going therefore beyond the issue of the peace process, we talked at length about all the region’s issues and our shared determination to act as effectively and swiftly as possible to ensure both stability and an active fight against all forms of terrorism.
BILATERAL TIES / 2018 FRANCE-ISRAEL CULTURAL SEASON
Bilaterally, our two countries have maintained ties which are long-standing—from the very outset of the State of Israel’s creation—and extremely substantive in every sphere. I for one would like these relations to be stepped up further, as, I think, would the Prime Minister; we spoke about this. So in the next few months, I’ll be asking the Economy Minister to pay a visit with a delegation of businesses precisely to broaden ties in various spheres; I myself went to the DLD congress in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2015 and saw the vitality of Israel’s ecosystem. So I’d like this visit to take place soon and I’ll be paying a visit myself in the next few months, at the Prime Minister’s invitation, which I very much appreciate; it will allow us to go on discussing both economic and security issues.
I think that when it comes to the economy, digital technology, cyber defense and cyber technology, we have many things to do together, and I’d like to step up our ties even further.
Finally, the Prime Minister and I talked about the cross-cultural season to be held in France and Israel in 2018 with a rich, wide-ranging programme, which we’re looking forward to and which will, again, be a key moment in the relationship and mobilize many artists and intellectuals. I had the opportunity to meet them when I went to Israel in the summer of 2015 and I’d like us also to be able to use this season as a means of intensifying and highlighting this relationship.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was what I wanted to say following the discussions the Prime Minister and I have just had, and before many discussions which we’re getting ready to have as a follow-up to this discussion, and I want to tell him again how delighted and honored I’ve been to host him in Paris today.
(1) The Vélodrome d’Hiver in Paris, to which thousands of Jews were taken after being rounded up by French police on 16 July 1942 for deportation.
3. Franco-German Council of Ministers - European Union / Migration / Alliance for the Sahel / Climate - Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (excerpts) (Paris - July 13, 2017)
Chancellor, chère Angela,
FRANCO-GERMAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to have another Franco-German Council of Ministers this morning, and once again I really want to thank the Chancellor for deciding to organize this Council in Paris, because of the date, when the plan had initially been to hold it in Berlin. I very much appreciate this gesture.
This morning we were able to go to the 18th arrondissement together to see an initiative conducted by the OFAJ [Franco-German Youth Office] in several districts in both France and Germany. We then had a defense and security council meeting, which hadn’t been done at this level for a very long time. It was an opportunity for us to look in detail at the issues of defense, security and migration, which I’ll come back to in a few moments.
So after a restricted meeting, we’ve just brought together all the ministers who worked together this morning and whose teams have been working for several weeks to prepare this Council of Ministers, and I want to thank them for it.
I think the Council not only endorsed a very strong convergence of views between our two countries in the face of major international risks and our global and European agenda, it also enabled us to shed light on several concrete initiatives we’ve taken in recent weeks, which we endorsed today or are going to take in the coming weeks.
Chancellor Merkel and I champion a common agenda of a Europe that protects and can protect more. On the first visit to Berlin we shared this agenda, which enabled us to move forward in harmony, in coordination with our ministers, at both the European Council and the G20, which you chaired. (...)
LABOR AND TRADE
This agenda of a Europe that protects was what enabled us to work together on the posting of workers; we talked about it again today; the ministers are still working on this and therefore not agreeing to a compromise that was insufficient, but working to ensure we can build a solution between France and Germany that enables us to regulate this social Europe more effectively and have the same remuneration for the same work throughout our two countries.
It was also this same vision of things that led us to have the same vision, at both European and international level—our economy and finance ministers are working on this especially—of free and fair trade, which led us to uphold the principle of reciprocity, on the one hand, and the defense of our strategic interests, while continuing to open our borders and combat all protectionism and all temptations towards dumping that may occur today in the international arena.
In the face of migration, a Europe that protects also means the reforms and initiatives we can take. Yesterday the government presented an ambitious plan to enable us to respond by taking in asylum seekers and refugees. I’d like France to have a much more proactive and humane policy, reduce processing times when it comes to taking in migrants and have a more effective policy.
It’s also what led us—I talked to the Chancellor about this yesterday, and we reviewed it again today—to take joint action in terms of preventing this migration, which, again, is an essential point if we want to be both more effective and more humane. It’s what led us today to convene a Franco-German integration council, an initiative you launched with my predecessor that was finalized today with the establishment of this structure.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY
A Europe that protects and our shared agenda on the subject are also about the initiatives we’re taking as regards defense policy and development policy. I believe that thanks to the work done by our foreign and defense ministers, this Council was an important moment in our seeing eye to eye on this. We gave content to what the last European Council enabled us to do together, through ongoing, structured cooperation whose criteria we specified. We have a common Franco-German strategy to do more, a strategy our defense ministers will share this afternoon with several of their colleagues and also with the EU’s High Representative, Ms Federica Mogherini, who was with us a few moments ago.
This new cooperation framework will bring together those member states that wish to get more involved in terms of finance, capabilities and defense missions, and I think it’s therefore very important that we were able to establish our joint criteria.
We also established the criteria and practicalities of the European Defense Fund, as well as a series of initiatives: military studies and programs that will commit us, our armed forces and our industries over the long term to programs that we defined very clearly, future tank and artillery systems, aviation, drones, helicopters and future disruptive technologies, particularly in the digital sphere.
These are all concrete initiatives where we decided to invest together, coordinate our R&D and procurement policies and also really coordinate in terms of exports.
ALLIANCE FOR THE SAHEL
The third important point in this regard is the Alliance for the Sahel. A few weeks ago, after discussing the subject at length with the Chancellor, I visited Bamako. I had announced this initiative. Our ministers have just signed this Alliance for the Sahel to support the development of the countries in that region, where part of our common future is being played out, and the Chancellor and I share a wish: to take swift and effective action by funding projects directly, pooling our finance and taking resolute action for health, education and democratic stability in the Sahel countries, among others.
Because it’s this twofold strategy we’re going to continue conducting: security and development. We’d like to take effective action in the region in this complementary way, with the European Union, and this, again, is a way of not only protecting our fellow citizens but preventing waves of migration which we can’t control and which, today, are very profoundly destabilizing our region.
We also discussed security, border control and counter-terrorism, introducing more of this cooperation. In this regard, our interior ministers presented to us ongoing and future cooperation, the joint reinforcement of the Frontex agency and initiatives to combat cyber crime, which we’re going to speed up in the coming weeks, in direct alignment with the European timetable we’ve set ourselves.
ECONOMY AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
The second major aspect after this Europe that protects is a Europe that moves forward, an ambitious Europe, and there too we launched a series of initiatives with our ministers. Firstly, by endorsing joint research and finance on micro- and nanoelectronics, with a joint digital fund between KfW [German development bank] and the BPI [French Public Investment Bank] that will enable us to fund - also jointly - digital start-ups and businesses on both sides of the border; with a plan for corporation tax harmonization - our economy and finance ministers are promoting the strategy that will enable us to give our companies an even more stable business framework; and with a proactive road map of common initiatives that we’ll be taking between now and the end of the year in terms of greater integration in the Euro Area and Europe.
Our ministers reported to us on the joint work that has been done, be it on issues of finance, regulation or collective organization, to prepare our economies for digital technology. The Chancellor and I will have another meeting at the end of August to prepare, together, the European summit in Tallinn, which will have a digital agenda to promote our shared vision on issues of copyright, digital regulation and finance, because we need this Franco-German framework.
I also welcome the fact that our labor ministers had the opportunity to bring together all sides of industry in our two countries to share the challenges posed to us by the digital transformation, among other things, which is leading us to carry out adaptations, reforms and adjustments to protect everyone’s rights in a world of profound change.
EDUCATION AND CULTURE
We also both want this ambitious Europe and this advancing Europe when it comes to apprenticeships, and on this we set ourselves a goal: by the end of the year, to create content for and the first achievements of this Erasmus+, which must include apprenticeships—we discussed it this morning at the OFAJ—and which is an initiative the Chancellor and I are very committed to.
I also want to stress here the importance of culture, education and higher education, which we discussed at length both this morning and during this Council of Ministers’ meeting - first of all, because we made clear commitments with swift implementation. France has restored bilingual classes: 1,200 bilingual classes will be reopened this autumn; this means that around 540,000 pupils in collèges [schools for pupils aged between approximately 11 and 15 years] will learn German. It means a level never achieved in our collèges. Likewise, a 50% increase in German teaching in primary school classes will be endorsed in the autumn thanks to the Minister’s resolute action on this.
We also endorsed a series of joint developments in terms of higher education and research, artificial intelligence, exchanges and cooperation, especially on the issues of climate and the digital and energy transition, with a shared desire to have programs for training and attracting the best researchers.
Lastly, on cultural projects, too, several initiatives have been carried out, and this morning we had the opportunity to see the importance of cultural issues, particularly in the framework of the digital transformation, with a desire to have a Franco-German agenda to uphold our common system for protecting authors and artistic creation from visions of society that are not, I believe, always ours, where the commodification of everything can end up meaning the disappearance of many things. And so we both want cultural excellence and creativity in our two countries, which led us to decide on a common agenda and strong coordination on the issue, given the future European reforms.
Finally, we discussed the climate, again with an ambitious shared agenda. In Bonn in November, the Chancellor will be hosting the new COP, which will be chaired by Fiji. I’ll be going to Bonn personally to support the initiatives taken on combating global warming, and in Paris on 12 December we’ll be hosting a follow-up conference to the Paris Agreement that will concentrate especially on the issue of the funding that must be implemented together; we’re going to work on preparing this agenda.
The Minister reported on the initiatives already taken with his colleagues in terms of regulatory convergence and common decisions. As we know, we in Europe still have a very ambitious agenda to fulfill on the climate, and we’ll work together to ensure, on the issues of standards, regulation, taxation and carbon pricing, that we can decide together and take regular, concrete decisions over the coming months. (...)