EU makes 10 pledges for its future

European Union – Sibiu Declaration – Press release issued by the European Council¹

Sibiu, 9 May 2019

We, the leaders of the European Union, have gathered in Sibiu to discuss and look ahead to our common future.

In a few weeks, Europeans will elect their representatives in the European Parliament, 40 years after they first exercised this fundamental right. A Europe reunited in peace and democracy is but one of many achievements. Since its inception, the European Union, driven by its values and freedoms, has provided stability and prosperity across Europe, within and beyond its borders. Over the years, it has grown into a major player on the international scene. Gathering around half a billion citizens, with a competitive single market, it is a leader in worldwide trade, and shapes global politics.

We reaffirm our belief that united, we are stronger in this increasingly unsettled and challenging world. We recognize our responsibility as leaders to make our Union stronger and our future brighter, while recognizing the European perspective of other European states. That is why today we unanimously agree on 10 commitments that will help us live up to that responsibility:

We will defend one Europe - from east to west, from north to south. Thirty years ago millions of people fought for their freedom and for unity and brought down the Iron Curtain, which had divided Europe for decades. There is no place for divisions that work against our collective interest.

We will stay united, through thick and thin. We will show each other solidarity in times of need and we will always stand together. We can and we will speak with one voice.

We will always look for joint solutions, listening to each other in a spirit of understanding and respect.

We will continue to protect our way of life, democracy and the rule of law. The unalienable rights and the fundamental freedoms of all Europeans were hard fought and will never be taken for granted. We will uphold our shared values and principles enshrined in the Treaties.

We will deliver where it matters most. Europe will continue to be big on big matters. We will continue to listen to the concerns and hopes of all Europeans, bringing the Union closer to our citizens, and we will act accordingly, with ambition and determination.

We will always uphold the principle of fairness, whether it be in the labour market, in welfare, in the economy or in the digital transformation. We will further reduce disparities between us and we will always help the most vulnerable in Europe, putting people before politics.

We will give ourselves the means to match our ambitions. We will provide the Union with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies.

We will safeguard the future for the next generations of Europeans. We will invest in young people and build a Union fit for the future, able to cope with the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.

We will protect our citizens and keep them safe by investing in our soft and hard power and by working with our international partners.

Europe will be a responsible global leader. The challenges we face today affect us all. We will continue working with our partners in the world to uphold and develop the rules-based international order, to make the most of new trading opportunities and to jointly tackle global issues such as preserving our environment and fighting climate change.

The decisions we take will follow the spirit and letter of these 10 commitments. The Union of today is stronger than that of yesterday and we want to continue to build its strength for tomorrow. This is our commitment for the future generations. This is the spirit of Sibiu and of a new Union at 27 ready to embrace its future as one.

¹Source of English text: European Council website.

European Union – Informal meeting of heads of state and government – Press conference given by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Sibiu, 9 May 2019

(Check against delivery)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Agenda

So we’ve held this meeting of the 27 today, Europe Day, 9 May – a meeting that was important precisely to discuss future issues – and we were able to do so in two phases. Firstly talking about external strategic issues, and then internal issues, and each time basically talking about the future of our Europe. This meeting was important, in my eyes, in three respects: firstly because we concentrated on something other than managing crises and everyday issues – in particular Brexit –, in the face of the multilateralism crisis we’re experiencing, in the face of China’s rise in many spheres; we need a Europe which protects, which also embodies our future and which is also, at the right level, our way of expressing our sovereignty. That’s why I think these [European] elections are extremely important. Finally, the meeting provided us with an opportunity to lay the groundwork of the European agenda for the next five years. We had a long discussion about these issues, but I want to emphasize here three priorities that broadly underlay our discussions, and I may go back in detail over these issues and others, depending on your questions.

Climate

First of all, there’s clear consensus that the climate must be part of Europe’s future strategy. Moreover, the text proposed by the presidency, for the leaders’ agenda, was very clear on this point and of very high quality. But we need to redouble, so to speak, our climate and environmental ambition in Europe. That’s what our young people are demanding of us throughout the continent, it’s what the situation of the planet requires, whether it be climate warming or biodiversity, and the credibility of Europe and the construction of its model very clearly depend on it. In this regard, I’m pleased that, on our initiative, nine countries signed an essential contribution upholding a strengthening of our climate targets, and in particular carbon neutrality and therefore zero emissions by 2050. Likewise, we’re pushing strongly for tailored funding to be put in place for investment in the ecological transition, and to this end I proposed to establish a climate bank, which will enable us fully to pursue this ambition at European level. There are clearly all the reforms we must promote too, both for a minimum CO2 price in Europe and for taxation on our borders. Climate ambition must be central to the strategy of the future European Commission and Parliament.

Africa

Secondly, very clearly, there’s the policy of sovereignty, security and neighbourhood, which we discussed at length today and which must be part of our future vision. Europe isn’t an island: it lives amid dangers, opportunities – in any case trends which don’t depend solely on us but require the most constructive partnerships with our neighbourhoods and the fair protection of our borders, so that our interests and fellow citizens can be protected. This means that, in my view, a second extremely crucial priority in our European policy is this good policy of development, security and protecting our borders, which in my view requires a strong partnership with Africa. We’ve done a lot in recent years, and I don’t think we’ll be able to deal with the potential risks that exist, as well as any opportunities there may be for Europe unless we’re more active as partners in an equal partnership with the African continent. I think that’s central to this priority, but at the same time Europe must also be more clear-sighted and effective in protecting its interests and borders; that’s why I’m arguing very strongly, along with several other colleagues, for an overhaul of what today we call Schengen. We can see its limits. (…) We need to define a common space within this area and have a single asylum policy to avoid any imbalances, a single, effective policy for our common borders and genuine solidarity within the area so that it’s not merely the reception countries or the most attractive countries within the area who bear the bulk of the burden. Today, the Schengen Area as it was conceived no longer functions in a satisfactory way. So we must overhaul it, fully enforce the rules and overhaul it in a much more stringent way, as I’ve already proposed several times.

Economy

Finally, our third priority for the coming years, in my view, is very firmly based on redefining, reinforcing what I’d call the economic and social model of European growth. The last 70 years have relied on a certain vision of progress we had, enabling us to bring progress to the middle classes and development to everyone, and the European Union was built on this very ability to ensure progress for everyone through the social market economy. This progress has been lacking in recent years because we’ve experienced economic and financial crises, and also because our own model has somewhat forgotten that goal. So I think building the economic and social model of tomorrow in Europe requires us to set ourselves ambitions: firstly, to be the leader in innovation and creating the values of tomorrow. That means a Europe that invests hugely in digital technology, artificial intelligence and the environmental industry. The initiative we took on batteries with the Germans is part of this, but we must have a genuine, dedicated budget for training, research and industrial policies, and be at the heart of the ambition that will be the growth of tomorrow’s Europe. It also means a Europe that has a real social policy. We had a long and fascinating discussion. A lot of countries in eastern and southern Europe explained to us for the first time: I’ve got a problem, I’m losing population and I’m losing workers. But why? Because the economic model of other countries was built on this low-cost economic workforce who left those countries and went to others. So we can clearly see that the strict competitiveness model exploiting social dumping doesn’t work in Europe any more; that’s why I very profoundly believe that tomorrow’s European growth must also be based on a new social convergence. This is why, at the heart of the plan for a [European] renaissance, which I’m promoting, I personally believe in this idea of having a minimum wage in all the European Union countries and rebuilding social convergence. We aren’t all starting from the same situation. France has a minimum wage, which I’m defending and won’t allow anyone to repudiate; it is compatible with our competitiveness. (…) Many countries within the EU still haven’t got a minimum wage, so we’ve got to entrench standards everywhere and progressively raise them so that there’s this genuine convergence again. And then, to achieve this economic model, tomorrow’s growth, this model of European progress, we’ve also got to bring our industrial and trade policy into line with these objectives.

EU-US trade

As I’ve very firmly reiterated, France actually opposed a new negotiating mandate with the United States of America because the United States quit the Paris Agreement, and I very profoundly believe that if we want to defend a genuine model of economic, social and environmental progress in Europe, we need a trade policy which incorporates our environmental and social objectives, otherwise we get our businesses and fellow citizens to make an effort but we become an open market which no longer defends our fellow citizens and businesses against international competitors. I think these aspects are at the heart of this new economic and social model of growth and progress, and at the heart of what we’ll have to defend in Europe in the next few years; and that’s why the euro, our industrial and environmental policy and our energy policy are at the heart of this ambition.I had the opportunity to repeat this again in recent days when I hosted the European Trade Union Confederation. This is what’s at stake today, what will be at stake on 26 May 2019 and in the coming weeks. Basically, over the next few weeks – and this discussion was extremely important in this respect – we’ve got to build Europe’s new agenda for the next five years. It must be an ambitious agenda, one of progress for our fellow citizens, and it must, in my view, be the heart of the ambition which the coalition of progress – which I want us to fight for – must set itself. There will be various viewpoints, but we’ve got to build a coalition of progress in Europe which allows us to move forward and which mustn’t yield an inch to the coalition of destruction and disintegration.

Thank you./.

Published on 20/05/2019

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