France wants to be a gateway to EU for Quebec businesses
Canada – Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, during his joint press conference with M. Philippe Couillard, Premier of Quebec (excerpts)
Montreal, 8 June 2018
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There are perhaps five points I’d like to come back to, following on from your preliminary remarks.
First of all, the young people who embody our dynamic relationship. We have a history, we have this link, but our young people talk to each other, travel, go on exchanges; young French people actually come to Quebec a lot, but we ourselves have to attract more young Quebecers. As I said back in March, more than 10,000 French students are enrolled in Quebec’s universities today, more than 4,500 pupils attend our two Franco-Quebecois lycées (1) and the Stanislas and Marie de France collèges (2), to which should be added the thousands of young people who cross the Atlantic every year on academic exchanges. We’d like to do better and welcome even more Quebecois students to France, and as such I welcome your government’s involvement and your involvement personally. (…)
And I say this to young Quebecers: come and spend a few years in France, we look forward to seeing you – it’s a gateway to knowing and understanding Europe.
The second priority is that France and Quebec are committed to the major global issues; this applies to the battle against climate disruption, in which Quebec is playing a pioneering role – we talked about this too; I’m thinking of the carbon market you set up with Ontario and California. A seminar will be organized soon to think about the European and North American markets being permanently interconnected; we’ll work on this together.
I for one am pressing the case at European level for mechanisms which would allow our systems to come together, because if we want the European system to be in line with the system the three of you created, we need a floor price, and you’ve thoroughly learned the lessons of European market deregulation, which, for lack of a floor price, undervalued quotas for several years.
Our scientists are also going to cooperate, precisely, to reduce the environmental footprint of maritime transport, cut greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the impact on marine mammals and coastal ecosystems, and several of your researchers, your new talent, actually contributed to the “make our planet great again” call for projects, which we launched a few months ago and which has made it possible to increase funding for these innovations.
The third priority we’d also like to develop, as you mentioned, is artificial intelligence. You managed, right here – and incidentally Montreal is really leading on this in Canada –, to develop an extremely fertile ecosystem in terms of artificial intelligence.
France is continental Europe’s leading country today for start-up creations and young talent, and is making strides in this sector. We’re highly committed – the government, the parliamentarians accompanying me and the whole of our research, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem – precisely to going further. (…)
The fourth priority is the economy. France is the leading investor in Quebec, which shows better than any declaration that my country believes in Quebec’s future and its success, but we’ve got to go further. And regarding trade, given how close we are historically, culturally and linguistically, France could hold a much more important place. I know Quebec’s Premier shares this desire to increase our trade, and this is what we’ve decided to do together across various sectors. Quebec is already a special gateway for French businesses wishing to set up in North America – we’re here in this port, which is a marvellous gateway to this continent – and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada is a framework we’ve worked on a great deal in recent months. (…)
I want France to play its full role acting as a gateway, a platform at European level, for Quebecois businesses. (…)
Finally, the fifth priority is the French language. (…)
As a French-speaking province in North America, Quebec has managed to protect its cultural and linguistic identity, and together I’d like us to develop very specific areas of cooperation, but also work together for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie [OIF – international Francophone organization]; there will be meetings coming up, but we discussed this a few moments ago; we have a shared desire to improve governance and work for reform and for clarifying this international organization’s missions, and I think I can say we have strong shared demands on this, because we share the French language with many other countries, but I think I can say it’s a very special link that continues to bring alive, on a daily basis, the historic and emotional relationship I was talking about a moment ago. (…)./.
(1) schools catering for pupils aged between 15 and 18 years (approximately)
(2) schools catering for pupils aged between 11 and 15 years (approximately)