PRESIDENCY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION : FRENCH PRIORITIES...

GOVERNMENT SEMINAR

TO PREPARE FOR THE FRENCH PRESIDENCY
OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE

GIVEN BY

M. FRANÇOIS FILLON, PRIME MINISTER,

M. BERNARD KOUCHNER, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS,

M. JEAN-PIERRE JOUYET, MINISTER OF STATE RESPONSIBLE
FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS

(EXCERPTS)

(Rambouillet, 17 November 2007

)

THE PRIME MINISTER - We have just held the first government seminar to prepare for the French European Union presidency - I say the first because there will be others. This one focused particularly on the method of preparing the French presidency. We also discussed the presidency’s priorities, and then the German and Portuguese presidencies reported on their experience. (…)
We obviously talked about the fundamental issues and the French presidency’s priorities. You know what they are: energy, the environment, climate, migration, European defence, more broadly perhaps, external and internal security policy, preparations for the implementation of the new treaty from the beginning of 2009 - so this will be a matter for both the Slovenian and French presidencies -, and President Sarkozy’s desire, which he talked about notably in the speech he delivered in Rennes, to start under the French presidency discussions on the future of the common policies post 2013, and especially that of the Common Agricultural Policy. We discussed these major priorities, together with other essential issues which remain on the agenda of every successive presidency, i.e. competitiveness and growth in Europe, which must see some concrete results under the French presidency. (…)

M. JOUYET - What stands out for me: this was a seminar which has not only made us aware of the issues but has also galvanized us into action, which was important and necessary, as the Prime Minister made clear to the whole government. Secondly, the importance at European level of dialogue with and listening to the institutions - here too this is a sort of break with France’s previous practices. This was very strongly emphasized with respect not only to the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, but also vis-à-vis our partners. This is why President Sarkozy and the Prime Minister are going to visit all our partners before the French presidency - this is essential. (…)

COMMON FRENCH, CZECH AND SWEDISH EU PRESIDENCY PROGRAMME

Q. - Prime Minister, a question from Swedish television. You are also preparing a common programme for the three - French, Czech and Swedish - presidencies. How are you dealing with the subjects, issues where the three governments have different ways of seeing things and opinions, such as Turkey’s EU membership and military and defence cooperation, which is something which may be sensitive and difficult for Sweden.

THE PRIME MINISTER - First of all, the presidency’s role isn’t to impose its country’s view, but to chair the EU Council and find consensus, compromises allowing us to move forward in step. The first thing we’re doing together with the Slovenian presidency, Swedish presidency and Czech presidency is to seek elements of compromise, of consensus. A lot of the issues I mentioned earlier are ones which won’t have started with the French presidency and won’t be resolved with the French presidency, on which we have to move forward, pass a milestone. (…)

FRENCH PRIORITIES

Q. - Prime Minister, you mentioned some priorities. Can you say a bit more on energy, immigration and defence, because you only listed them?

ENERGY

THE PRIME MINISTER - On energy there are two issues: the organization of the energy market inside the European Union: as you know, there’s discussion about whether distribution and production activities should be separated. This is a debate which will have to make headway under the Slovenian presidency and perhaps under the French presidency. For us, there’s a second energy issue: the security of Europe’s energy supplies. The position France is championing today is that we should give somewhat greater priority to the security of supplies than to separating distribution and production activities. (…)

IMMIGRATION

On immigration, the issue is simple: Europe is being subjected to increasingly large waves of immigration. A lot of countries which in the past didn’t experience immigration and so weren’t bothered about it have some concerns today, and the general public in some countries are extremely worried about it. We have decided on rules for freedom of movement, at least on one part of the European Union’s territory, in the Schengen Area. Once there is freedom of movement in the Schengen Area, there have to be common rules, for example common rules on granting visas, on the right of asylum, on regularizing undocumented immigrants or at least all EU States must inform everyone about their national rules. (...)

DEFENCE

On defence, the problem is straightforward: every day we see Europe being called on to help resolve crises in the world; no one today can take the view that Europe hasn’t got its part to play in settling international crises. Europe must have a common security policy and instruments to ensure this security. This is a difficult issue - I’m not saying at all that we’ll be able to resolve it during the French presidency; what we’d like to do is to take it forward. President Sarkozy, particularly during his visit to the United States, showed that France could be open to a transatlantic policy, provided that, simultaneously, progress were made on the European defence policy. (…)./.

Dernière modification : 22/11/2007

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