UK’s interest is to remain in EU, says Europe Minister
European Union/British referendum – Reply by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris, 17 February 2016
As the Prime Minister has just said, we think that it’s in the United Kingdom’s interest to remain in the European Union and that it’s in Europe’s interest to remain united. It will of course be up to British citizens to decide in the referendum that will be organized in a few months’ time. But we believe and hope that the agreement being negotiated will enable us to create conditions for a vote in favour. This must obviously not be done to the detriment of the principles and values at the EU’s foundation which made France and the other five founding countries launch the European project, later joined by the UK and many other countries on the continent when they saw this was where Europe’s future was being played out.
The proposals by European Council President Donald Tusk, which will be discussed at the European Council of 18 and 19 February, respect the three fundamental demands France has made since the beginning of this discussion: firstly, no revision of the treaties, no right of veto by the UK over the Euro Area’s future integration, and thirdly no questioning of the principle of free movement of European citizens and workers within the EU.
However, there’s still work to be done on several issues; they were mentioned by the Prime Minister. I’d like to emphasize one in particular, namely the integrity of the internal market in financial services. In fact, even though the UK hasn’t decided to join the Euro Area, all 28 of us adopted together a number of rules on regulating the financial markets, rules for the security of the banking system and oversight of financial transactions within the European Union. It must be possible for those rules to be applied throughout the EU and for there to be oversight throughout the EU.
So we’ll pay close attention to this, but above all we want the European Union to continue whatever the result of the British referendum and, beyond that date, to deepen./.
European Union/General Affairs Council – Statements to the press by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, on his arrival
Brussels, 16 February 2016
At this meeting, we’re going to look at the two major subjects of the forthcoming European Council: preparations for the British referendum, and the refugee crisis.
On the preparation of the agreement with Britain, we must work in a constructive spirit to reach an outcome at the forthcoming European Council on 18 and 19 February. Work remains to be done, particularly on relations between the Euro Area and non-euro countries – on the integrity of the internal market, on the regulation of financial markets – but I think the goal we must set ourselves is for agreement to have been reached on the bulk of these points between now and the European Council meeting.
David Cameron was in Paris yesterday. He’s continuing his consultations, and we, France, would like an agreement to be finalized before the European Council begins, on the text, or at any rate the essential parts of it, particularly on relations between the Euro Area and non-Euro Area countries. It’s absolutely clear we must ensure that Britain’s distinct identity, and the differentiated integration various countries follow within the European Union, are recognized, but that nothing prevents the Euro Area countries from continuing their deepening and their integration.
On the refugee crisis, the priority is to implement the decisions that have been taken. Progress has been made in recent weeks but is still insufficient, particularly on the establishment of “hot spots” in both Greece and Italy, effective border controls, the stepping-up of security checks when refugees enter, and the fight against illegal immigration, which endangers human lives.
Talks with Turkey, and support for Greece in particular, must absolutely be stepped up, at the same time as the member states’ commitment on relocation is being implemented.
There you are: those are clearly the two essential points at this General Affairs Council meeting, which should be useful in preparing the agreements that will have to be finalized at the European Council.