Official speeches and statements - November 26, 2018
So, we held an important summit just now which, as I said on arrival, is in my view a summit of unity, dignity and seriousness.
The aim was to approve the agreement on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and the political framework for our future relationship. This is the agreement the 27 of us endorsed this morning.
I want to pay tribute here to the remarkable job done by Michel Barnier, all his teams and the European Commission and European Council teams. Thanks to European unity we’ve been able, as a result, to negotiate a good agreement which protects our interests and values and prepares for close cooperation with the United Kingdom.
I also want to pay tribute here to Theresa May, who, at every moment, whilst fervently defending her country’s interest, has been able to seek paths to lasting cooperation with the European Union, which is our common good.
And I want to say that the United Kingdom will continue having its place, today and tomorrow, with the role it is prepared to take on and which may evolve, in the European concert of nations.
Even though we’ve passed an important stage today, we also need to prepare for what’s next, firstly because the withdrawal agreement hasn’t been ratified, and secondly because we still haven’t defined all the details of the future relationship. And as far as this goes, we obviously want to protect our main interests.
It’s why we’ve got a statement by the 27 which is clear and defines the parameters of the next stage, and I want to emphasize three important points here which France in particular was keen to get included.
First, to ensure conditions for fair competition: the future partnership will have to include stronger provisions, very clearly, to protect our businesses and be in genuine alignment over the long term.
Secondly, as regards fishing, on which we’ll be concentrating our efforts to get an agreement safeguarding access to British waters before the end of the transition period, and on which obviously the interests of our fishermen and the whole industry will be defended.
Finally in terms of respect for the European Union’s decision-making autonomy, which is an important point.
These three issues feature in today’s declaration by the 27. And to prepare the future stages, I’d like us to adopt the same method, namely unity and a common defense of these principles.
Finally, I believe we must also be able to learn lessons today from this departure of a member state, a major partner, for the first time in the history of the European enterprise.
We must understand in this way that Europe is fragile, that it can’t be taken for granted and that we must therefore defend it against all those who forget that it’s a guarantee of peace, prosperity and security on our continent.
But, paradoxically, Brexit has also shown everyone the value of this Union, however much it can be improved. And in doing so we must understand that our Europe has to be overhauled in order to be better understood by our peoples and address their aspirations, because, very clearly, Brexit tells us that it hasn’t been able to sufficiently reassure and protect the peoples of each of our countries.
It’s this planned overhaul which, for me, must also be central to the coming months for our European Union.
2. European defense - France/Germany/EU defense - Saudi Arabia/Khashoggi - Syria/Daesh - Interview given by Mme Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, to the daily newspaper Le Figaro - Excerpts (Paris - November 22, 2018)
FRANCE / GERMANY / EU DEFENSE
Q - Is bilateral defense cooperation with Germany on the right tracks?
A - Scepticism is sometimes expressed regarding European cooperation and particularly industrial cooperation. In reality, things are making swift progress. The cooperation launched by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in July 2017 includes crucial projects for the 21st century. We’re talking about major procurement: the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and the tank of the future. I went to Mali 10 days ago with my counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, and we took stock of those two major projects, agreeing to see each other again soon - which we did in Brussels on Monday. We took decisions that will enable manufacturers to work, because it’s up to us, governments, to remove the obstacles and allow them to move forward so that these projects aren’t delayed. As for the FCAS, under French leadership, studies will begin next January and the launch of demonstrators is planned for June, at the Paris Air Show. Regarding the tank of the future, under German leadership, design and R&D studies will be initiated in 2019. Ursula von der Leyen and I are determined to keep up the pace. I’m very satisfied with the working atmosphere existing both between our teams and our manufacturers.
Q - Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel talked about a European army. What does that mean to you?
A - We must make progress on Defense Europe as quickly and as far as possible. Terrorism, cyber attacks etc... the strategic context and the threats are clearly leading us to this. Our adversaries don’t care about borders, and that’s led to a realization on the part of Europeans, who had set the issue aside. The French President and the Chancellor have provided a powerful plan for strong ambition. That ambition is in harmony with what we’re currently developing, i.e. cooperation at every level: capability-related with Permanent Structured Cooperation, innovation-related with the European Defense Fund, and operational and strategic with the European Intervention Initiative (EII). The EII, for example, brings together 10 countries and aims to enable interventions in vary varied contexts, from the climate disaster - as the example of Hurricane Irma has shown us - to high-intensity crises like in Mali.
All these "bricks" map out the ambition of a European army whose purpose is to contribute to a Europe which protects our fellow citizens. Moreover, the President said this as early as his Sorbonne speech: Europe must give itself a common intervention force, a common defense budget and a common doctrine for taking action. We’re making concrete progress on these three pillars. (...)
SAUDI ARABIA / KHASHOGGI
Q - Do you have any evidence concerning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi?
A - We know he was killed by Saudis in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. It’s a brutal, intolerable murder. It was necessary to adopt protective measures first. These were adopted and include the banning of 18 Saudi nationals from the Schengen Area. Beyond that, we’re awaiting the results of the investigation in order to decide what other measures have to be taken.
SYRIA / DAESH
Q - Is Daesh [so-called ISIL] finished?
A - Daesh is down but hasn’t disappeared. The territorial conflict is almost over, but there’s still a major risk of the movement’s resurgence. In Syria, the fighting is continuing on the eastern part of the Euphrates, around Hajin. For the Kurdish forces, which make up a major part of the Syrian Democratic Forces we support, everything hinges on ending the recapture of land. In the west, we’re keeping a close eye on the situation in the Idlib pocket. The threat of an attack by the Syrian regime’s forces would risk causing a humanitarian disaster there, given the number of civilians present. Moreover, we’re warning Damascus against the use of chemical weapons, because that would justify us reacting very strongly, as we did in April this year.
Mr. Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance of France, and Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, met on November 22, 2018 in Paris.
They discussed a number of issues of mutual interest including the candidacy of Japan to host the World Expo 2025 in Osaka under the theme "Designing Future Society for Our Lives" which has many assets.
On the issue of the alliance formed between Renault and Nissan, both ministers exchanged views and shared information about the latest situation. They reaffirmed what they had previously said on November 20, 2018 in a joint press release, i.e. the strong support of both the French and Japanese governments to the alliance formed between Renault and Nissan and their shared wish to maintain this winning cooperation.
The ministers agreed on the importance of achieving an effective and speedy reform of the World Trade Organisation. In this context, Minister Seko and Minister Le Maire agreed that they would use the forthcoming presidencies of Japan and France, respectively of the G20 and G7 in 2019, to continue discussions in this area.
The ministers agreed to stay in close touch on all the above issues.
The Permanent Representatives of the Members from the European Union of the Security Council at informal exchanges of views, held on their request, of the members of the Security Council during their visit to Beijing, expressed grave concern about the recent escalation of tension in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait.
They reconfirmed their full recognition of the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, called on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea. They called for the Russian Federation to restore freedom of passage at the Kerch Strait and urged all to act with utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation immediately. Detained Ukrainian sailors should be freed and captured vessels returned.
They agreed furthermore that after the informal discussion in Beijing the issue should be discussed further in the Security Council in New York on November 26.