French President reports on EU talks
European Council – European Defence Fund/migration/digital technology/Iran/Brexit – Press conference by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic (excerpts)
Brussels, 20 October 2017
On migration, we reaffirmed our commitment to handling every aspect of this crisis together in all its dimensions, from the countries of origin to our borders. In this regard, France made a pledge to triple its contribution to the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa by the end of the year; I obviously reaffirmed France’s commitments to the Sahel, which are already significant, both financially and in terms of military engagement, and which are helping resolve this crisis. And I recalled the commitment to 10,000 resettlements in France over the period 2017-19, in response to the Commission’s appeal a few weeks ago.
More broadly, the discussion focused on what our strategy must be on migration, whether it originates in the Iraq-Syria region or in Africa. And personally I stressed the need to take a fully integrated approach, i.e. not only, of course, to take a very resolute approach – and we discussed this point a lot – on Libya, which is currently the key transit country for the central Mediterranean route, but also to take a very proactive approach to the other countries of transit and origin.
Those are the steps we initiated in Paris on 28 August, which we’re going to continue in partnership with the African Union and our African partners, but they’re also the steps we’re taking throughout the Sahel-Sahara strip by means of the G5 Sahel force and the Alliance for the Sahel. That’s also why I wanted both the Alliance and the G5 Sahel to be among the reference points for the work of the Commission and the Council; and that’s also why it’s important for the whole European Union to be fully involved in this progress. (…)
Regarding Iran, the European Council – following a debate introduced by Federica Mogherini – confirmed the commitment of all the Europeans to the nuclear agreement with Iran and its proper implementation. In this regard, I had a discussion with Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister May, with very close coordination between our three countries on the Iran issue. We do want to do everything to ensure the July 2015 agreement is maintained.
Yesterday morning I had the opportunity – and I told my colleagues about it – to see the Director General of the IAEA, who informed me of the latest investigations and inquiries carried out on the ground in Iran. I expressed the wish that we could do as much as possible to inform all our partners and also those taking the next decision – i.e. the members of the US Congress – of where things actually stand with those inquiries and of the IAEA’s scrupulous work to monitor proper progress and compliance with the 2015 agreement.
I also emphasized the need at European level to make sure we’re capable of enforcing all the terms of the agreement, i.e. resuming economic relations with Iran and undergoing no American extraterritorial pressure, if the American decision ultimately is not in favour of maintaining the 2015 agreement. We also decided to work actively in conjunction with the United States to make a convincing case for the need to coordinate all the procedures that will enable the agreement to be maintained.
More broadly, I was able to share my desire to begin a discussion with Iran, too, on ballistic activity and Iran’s regional influence on several countries, and I believe there was strong consensus around the table on this today. We also talked about North Korea, highlighting the value of the agreement with Iran itself, insofar as North Korea perfectly illustrates the consequences of totally breaking off all discussions. And on this issue the European Council adopted some very firm conclusions, in line with the position France has consistently taken at the United Nations Security Council and after new European sanctions were adopted by our foreign ministers on Monday. (…)
This morning the 27 of us discussed Brexit, with a very simple message on the issue: we all welcomed the European Union’s unity of method and representation behind a structured agenda and a single representative. And so we all reconfirmed the desired method and talked about all the parameters of phase one – and in particular the three formative parameters which the negotiating mandate gave Michel Barnier – and about maintaining a single channel of discussions around Michel Barnier.
We recognized the gestures of openness shown by Theresa May in recent weeks, in the Florence speech and her public speeches, and confirmed our desire to embark on a second discussion phase in good time. But all this must be done in an orderly fashion, fully respecting our determination and unity when it comes to having an extremely clear sequencing of the various phases.
The report Michel Barnier provided on the current negotiations highlighted the fact that while those negotiations have made progress, the United Kingdom still has to make a significant effort in financial terms.
We’re currently a long way off the mark in terms of financial commitments, and if we want – as Prime Minister May pledged in her Florence speech – to be sure that no one will have to pay more or receive less, and be sure the UK will honour all the commitments it made as a European Union member, today I’d say we’re far from having achieved the financial commitments necessary for embarking on phase two. And so, while welcoming the steps forward, I want to reiterate here our determination to be extremely structured, and all the work that has yet to be done. (…)./.