France "wants to work" with UK over Brexit, says President
Berlin, 28 September 2016
As Angela [Merkel] has said, since 2014 we – Germany and France – have wanted to give priority to the digital agenda. So we’re here in Berlin for the fifth meeting with the businesses that make up the ERT [European Round Table of Industrialists].
In the course of these meetings, we’ve sought to come to an official position on the challenge the digital sector may pose for Europe. It’s a major challenge at industrial level; it’s an essential challenge in terms of Europe’s momentum, and it’s also a challenge for society, because it’s going to change a number of relationships between individuals, and the choices they have to make, particularly at personal level and even at economic level.
Thanks to these meetings, we’ve been able to emphasize the need to deploy superfast broadband, and also the challenge of 5G. We’ve wanted to support digital businesses so that there can be investment in start-ups. We’ve worked with the European Commission. That’s what enabled the European Commission – thanks to this collaboration, this cooperation, this impetus – to set out an overhaul of the telecoms sector framework, on 15 September.
For us, a very important step has been taken with the European Commission presidency, which has also wanted us to be able, in the framework of competition – but by adapting a number of mechanisms – to be European leaders Europe-wide. We need champions, we need businesses that can be formed at European level and therefore global level, especially because there are competitors outside the European Union which are coming to compete. We must be in a position not only to retaliate but to be ahead of the game.
I want to finish on two issues that are on everyone’s minds at the moment: how to revitalize the 27-member Europe, and how to prepare the negotiations with the United Kingdom.
On the 27-strong Europe, in Bratislava we not only set an agenda, i.e. a timetable, we also set out a programme of work, with measures that will be very specific, in areas we’re aware of: namely security and protection but also employment, young people and of course research, knowledge and the whole digitization of the economy.
With the UK, we’re expecting the British government to take up the matter with the European Union and use Article 50. But we’re making sure to tell the UK that we want to work with that country, which is a friend, but on conditions that must be clearly set out, because if there’s any ambiguity about what we want to do together I don’t think it will be good for either the British economy or the European Union. That’s also the spirit driving us this evening./.