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Official speeches and statements - October 8, 2019

Publié le October 8, 2019

1. Cyprus - Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson (Paris - October 5, 2019)

The arrival of a new Turkish drilling ship in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a breach of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and of international law. This is an unfriendly move which could increase tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs has discussed this situation with his Cypriot counterpart. He let his counterpart know that France fully stands alongside Cyprus.

The Foreign Affairs Council of October 14 will study these developments and any consequences, continuing on from its conclusions of July 15, 2019.


2. United Nations - Mali / North Korea / Syria - Remarks to the press by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United nations (New York - October 8, 2019)

France will continue to support MINUSMA. We think it’s very important. I just want to offer my deepest condolences after the death of a Chadian peacekeeper on Sunday. Number two, the peace agreements are being implemented. This is good news. Obviously more needs to be done and we will be in support. France will be in support, the UN will be in support. Number three, we are very concerned with the situation in the Center region, which is deteriorating, where many incidents are happening. The government of Mali should do more to address that. They have the primary responsibility to fix the situation there. MINUSMA is already there. MINUSMA will be in support, will remain in support, but it’s very important. And last but not least, the G5 Sahel is a very important initiative. We need to support the G5 Sahel. More needs to be done as well. The UN should support and provide sustainable financing for the G5 Sahel, and this is what we will continue to support.

Q : For North Korea, if you don’t mind. You’re having a meeting on North Korea, but given these repeated breaches of the solutions, is it time for the Security Council to take some action on North Korea?

R - We will meet on the DPRK in consultations at the end of the morning under "any other business". We will have an exchange of view. We’ll discuss the state of play and expect me and my European colleagues to get back to you with a declaration after that. I will not go into the detail now.

Q : And northern Syria, how concerned are you?

R - We are pretty concerned with northern Syria. We have heard rumors of Turkish interventions and it brings concerns to us. It could have significant humanitarian impact on this region. We are still very concerned with the fight against Daesh. The global coalition has been doing a great job since 2014. It’s a success and we should not jeopardize a success. Daesh is still present in Syria, in Iraq. The fight against Daesh is not over. We just managed, a few months ago, to win against Daesh in terms of territorial footprint, but Daesh is still there, sleeping cells in Syria, in Iraq and we strongly believe that the fight against Daesh should continue. It’s not over.

I just want to signal to you that on Syria we are very happy today because for the first time in a long period of time we managed to have a united Security Council declaration on the political process which calls for a full implementation of resolution 2254 just after the agreement on the constitutional committee.

Thank you all.


3. European Union - EU accedes to international agreement on appellations of origin and geographical indications - Press communiqué issued by the Council of the European Union (Luxembourg - October 7, 2019)

The EU is acceding to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on appellations of origin and geographical indications ("the Geneva Act"). The Council today adopted a decision authorizing the accession of the EU to the Geneva Act and a regulation laying down the rules governing the exercise by the EU of its rights (and the fulfillment of its obligations) under the Geneva Act.

The Geneva Act is a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It expands the scope of the Lisbon Agreement for the protection of appellations of origin and their international registration ("the Lisbon agreement") to cover not only appellations of origin but also geographical indications. In addition, it allows international organizations, such as the EU, to become contracting parties.

Each contracting party to the Geneva Act is obliged to protect on its territory the appellations of origin and geographical indications of products originating in other contracting parties.

The EU has exclusive competence for the areas covered by the Geneva Act. In order to ensure the effective participation of the EU in the decision-making bodies created by the Geneva Act, member states can however accede to the Geneva Act alongside the EU. Member states which were already party to the Lisbon agreement before EU accession to the Geneva Act are allowed to remain so.

Following the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act, it will be for the Commission to file applications for the international registration of geographical indications relating to products originating in the EU with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization. It will also be for the Commission to request the cancellation of any such registration. In addition, it will be for the Commission to assess whether the conditions are met for protection to be granted throughout the EU to a geographical indication which has been registered internationally under the Geneva Act and which originates in a third country.

The regulation sets out the rules governing possible conflicts between an internationally registered geographical indication and a trade mark.

It also contains transitional provisions to accommodate those member states that were already parties to the Lisbon Agreement before the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act.

Finally, the regulation contains provisions on financial issues and a monitoring obligation for the Commission.

Both legal acts will enter into force 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

Background

Seven EU member states are contracting parties to the Lisbon Agreement: Bulgaria (since 1975), Czech Republic (since 1993), Slovakia (since 1993), France (since 1966), Hungary (since 1967), Italy (since 1968) and Portugal (since 1966). Three EU member states have signed but not ratified the Agreement (Greece, Romania and Spain). The EU itself is not a contracting party as the Lisbon Agreement only provides for membership of states, not international organisations.

(Source of English text: European Council website)


4. European Union - Better protection of whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules to kick in in 2021 - Press communiqué issued by the Council of the European Union (Luxembourg - October 7, 2019)

The EU is to guarantee a high level protection to whistle-blowers across a wide range of sectors including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection.

Today the Council formally adopted new rules on whistle-blowers protection. The new rules will require the creation of safe channels for reporting both within an organisation - private or public - and to public authorities. It will also provide a high level of protection to whistle-blowers against retaliation, and require national authorities to adequately inform citizens and train public officials on how to deal with whistle-blowing.

The legislation will now be formally signed and published in the Official Journal. Member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national law.

The main elements of the compromise include:

Creation of channels of reporting within companies/administrations: there is an obligation to create effective and efficient reporting channels in companies of over 50 employees or municipalities of more than 10,000 inhabitants. This will contribute to the development of a healthy corporate culture;

Hierarchy of reporting channels: whistle-blowers are encouraged to use internal channels within their organization first, before turning to external channels which public authorities are obliged to set up. In any event, whistle-blowers will not lose their protection if they decide to use external channels in the first place;

A large number of profiles protected by the new rules: Persons protected include those with a range of profiles who could acquire information on breaches in a work-related context, e.g. employees, including civil servants at national/local level, volunteers and trainees, non-executive members, shareholders, etc.

A wide scope of application: the new rules will cover areas such as public procurement, financial services, prevention of money laundering, public health, etc. For legal certainty, a list of all EU legislative instruments covered is included in an annex to the directive. Member states may go beyond this list when implementing the new rules.

Support and protection measures for whistleblowers: the rules introduce safeguards to protect whistle-blowers from retaliation, such as being suspended, demoted and intimidated. Those assisting whistle-blowers, such as colleagues and relatives, are also protected. The directive also includes a list of support measures which will be put in place for whistleblowers.

Feedback obligations for authorities and companies: the rules create an obligation to respond and follow up to the whistleblowers’ reports within three months (with the possibility of extending this to six months for external channels in duly justified cases);

Background

Whistle-blowers are people speaking up when they encounter, in the context of their work, wrongdoing that can harm the public interest, for instance by damaging the environment, public health and consumer safety and public finances.

Whistle-blower protection is currently covered in a fragmented manner. At the moment, only 10 EU countries have a comprehensive law protecting whistleblowers. At EU level, there is legislation in only a limited number of sectors (mostly in the areas of financial services) which include measures to protect whistleblowers.

A 2017 study carried out for the Commission estimated the loss of potential benefits due to a lack of whistle-blower protection, in public procurement alone, to be in the range of €5.8 to €9.6 billion each year for the EU as a whole.

(Source of English text: European Council website)

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