EU wants to ensure level playing field and good compromise for its fishermen - President

European Union – Statement by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on his arrival at the European Council (excerpts)

Brussels, 15 October 2020

(...) We didn’t choose Brexit, it’s the British people’s choice, and so ensuring continued access for our fishermen to British waters, reaching a good compromise for our fishermen – and I’m talking about all the countries of Europe concerned, including France – is an important point in this discussion for us. The second thing is about having fair conditions between Britain and the European Union, i.e. ensuring that we’ve got a level playing field when it comes to State aid and to regulations, particularly social and environmental ones. The consequences of Brexit can’t involve creating environmental or social dumping at our borders. We must also reach an agreement on this issue. (…) I’m going to be very clear. This agreement can’t be made at any price. Unless the conditions are met, it’s possible we won’t have a deal. We’re prepared for that. France is ready. We’ve adopted regulations. We’re finalizing the measures to be taken in every sector. This week the Prime Minister has again held a meeting of ministers on the issue. Unless good terms are reached at the end of the talks, we’re ready for a no-deal on future relations. (…)./.

European Union – Brexit/Turkey/migration policy – Interview given by M. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to the newspaper Le Monde (excerpts)

Paris, 15 October 2020

Brexit

Q. – Do you think an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU is still possible?

THE MINISTER – In the past few days, the British Government has said it wants to reach one. So do we. But an agreement must meet our conditions, whether they’re to do with fisheries or conditions as regards competition or governance. Otherwise there won’t be an agreement.

Q. – On fisheries, Europe’s negotiator Michel Barnier seems less inflexible than in the past…

THE MINISTER – You can’t separate the fisheries issue from the rest of the negotiations. The British want to reclaim their waters, and they think this gives them a means of exerting pressure. But they’re forgetting that when it comes to all the other issues they’re negotiating on, they’ve got much more to ask for than to offer. Fisheries mustn’t be the adjustment variable; a comprehensive agreement won’t be possible without a good agreement in that area – an agreement which offers fishermen a clear idea of the long-term future and guarantees them access to British waters. We won’t sacrifice their interests.

Q. – Concessions are clearly going to have to be made…

THE MINISTER – We can’t be accused of being “inflexible” when the British haven’t given us clear signs about their desire to move towards a comprehensive agreement.

Q. – David Frost, the negotiator on the British side, recently said he was ready to move on the issue of State aid and fair-competition conditions…

THE MINISTER – It’s a positive sign; we’re waiting for evidence. There can’t be dumping at our borders, that’s a condition for fair competition. If the British want access to the internal market, their businesses mustn’t receive more aid than ours and engage in dumping on us.

The Council will decide if an agreement is still possible. Either the heads of State and government consider this isn’t the case and we prepare for the consequences of a no-deal, or the British shift their position in the meantime and Michel Barnier will have a few days – a few weeks at most – to try and finalize an agreement. That doesn’t mean he’ll manage it, but there will be a way forward. (…)

Turkey/eastern Mediterranean

Q. – Will the issue of Turkey, which is increasing the number of provocations, crop up again at this Council?

THE MINISTER – At the beginning of October, Ankara gave a few guarantees and expressed a desire for dialogue. The Europeans were cautiously optimistic about this, without ruling out possible sanctions. Signs over the past few days are very bad. If they’re confirmed, we’ll carry out our threats. Turkey must choose: dialogue and cooperation, or turning its back on the EU and accepting the consequences.

Migration

Q. – Isn’t the EU still hostage to the migration issue, which has been partly delegated to Ankara?

THE MINISTER – It has quite obviously had an impact on our relations since the emergency agreement was concluded in 2016. As Russia has been doing in the energy field, for example, Turkey is trying to create a situation of European dependency. The only credible response the European Union can provide is gradually to reduce its dependency. As long as you’re dependent, you’re at the mercy of sometimes brutal neighbours.

Q. – The Commission recently presented a Pact on Migration [and Asylum], a reform which the far right already wants to use for its own ends. Is this project moving in the right direction?

THE MINISTER – Marine Le Pen is a permanent, obscene lie! Nothing she talks about is in the proposal of the Commission, which wants to increase the protection of our external borders while planning new solidarity mechanisms. Mme Le Pen’s party and friends are in the European Parliament, they’ve got a text on their table and are saying that everything is happening “behind closed doors”. If the European Parliament is these “closed doors”, these elected representatives mustn’t ask French people to vote for them and finance their mandate.

Powerful Europe

Q. – People talk about “Europe as a power”, but it feels like it still has a great deal of trouble asserting itself in the face of its rivals. What’s it missing?

THE MINISTER – “Europe as a power” isn’t the Europe of a magic wand, able to resolve every crisis in one go. But Europe has recently been able to adopt a firmer, clearer posture. The time when it was naïve is over. It is gradually making its presence felt and following a clear trajectory. It is a power under construction, with its weaknesses and incompleteness, and France is very much involved in this growing presence./.

Published on 16/10/2020

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