|Franco-German Defence and Security Council (1) |
Franco-German Defence and Security Council (1)
Statements made by Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, and Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister, during their joint press conference Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of Germany. Mainz, 9 June 2000 (excerpts). Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris.
Mr Chirac: (...) This summit - the Chancellor put it very clearly - has provided an opportunity to verify that, when it's necessary, the Franco-German entente never wavers, that the Franco-German engine is working well. (...)
Our summit has enabled us to assert the European Union's role more strongly on the international stage. We agreed to give a new joint boost to the implementation of the Helsinki decisions on the European Union's foreign and defence policy. As regards the Balkans, as the Chancellor said, Germany and France will be working together to prepare a summit between the European Union and Western Balkan countries so that the European Union can establish its presence and responsibilities more firmly in that region. And, on the strategic issues, we took the same view on the potentially detrimental consequences of an antimissile defence plan undermining the ABM treaty. Finally, Germany and France agreed to choose Airbus for the production of the future transport plane, as the Chancellor said just now. (...)
Yesterday, French and German union and employers' representatives met for the first time and I gather, judging particularly by the report the relevant minister made to us a short time ago, that this meeting was fruitful and will herald a series of such meetings, that they will become routine, which is, I think today necessary.
I would like, finally, to say how delighted I am to be attending the Franco-German Youth Summit organized by the Minister-President Mr Kurt Beck today in Mainz and how delighted I am too about the creation, following the discussions we had on the Chancellor's initiative, of the Franco-German Film Academy, and I will have the pleasure of attending the inaugural session during a State visit I'll shortly be making to Germany and I'm really looking forward to it.
I have nothing else to add, but the Prime Minister will probably have something.
Mr Jospin: (...) Admittedly, the circumstances - and in particular the fact that there's going to be the French presidency, that there's a debate on the Intergovernmental Conference and on the future of Europe - have perhaps overshadowed what was nonetheless an original feature of this Franco-German summit, i.e. the preliminary meeting of unions and employers' organizations. Nonetheless, this was important and is necessary, not only to draw attention to the nature of the European economic and social model, but also because the political authorities must, while respecting the independence of unions and employers' organizations, ensure that they contribute to determining the future of the European Union. And, finally, it was important because the establishment of joint enterprises such as, for example, EADS raises new important issues because of the different legislation governing the social rules and the organization of relations between management and employees within firms in the various countries. I'd like to end by saying that I'm extremely pleased about the decisions announced by Germany and France on the future transport plane, the A400M, after the setting-up of the EADS company. At a time when the launch of the A3XX is being prepared, this new decision testifies to Europe's ability to undertake major industrial ventures.
IGC/Weighting of Votes in the Council
Q. - Has France taken a decision on the weighting of votes in the Council? Will the demographic factor, the size of population, be taken into account?
Mr Chirac: I think it's desirable for the demographic factor to be taken into account and that a reweighting of the votes has to be looked into. This is one of the ways to help the European Union overcome its contradictions, take decisions and forge ahead.
As far as the relative weighting of the votes of France and Germany is concerned, what I can tell you is that this will certainly not be a problem between us.
Future of Europe
Q. - What did you think of Mr Fischer's speech proposing a federal Europe, when government ministers have expressed slightly negative views on this?
Mr Jospin: (...) We think that this discussion on Europe's future is necessary. These questions are being asked in every country - in any event, they are in France.
As well as the issue of how the twenty, twenty-five or thirty-member Europe is going to be able to work - one of the IGC's tasks is to find some practical answers - there is also that of what identity it will have, how united it will be, what its goal will be and how it will be organized. Joschka Fischer put forward these ideas in a personal capacity, but at the same time he enjoys authority, and so we considered them totally healthy, important. These kinds of questions must be raised.
Of course, we have the short-term objective of making a success of the Intergovernmental Conference, i.e. improving the decision-making processes in the European Union. And we think too that, between this short-term objective of improving the European machinery and the long-term vision - on which a discussion will certainly open within and between the European countries and on which the countries and therefore the French authorities will, when the time comes, have to take official positions - there is this intermediary period and this valuable instrument of enhanced cooperation. So I think you know our thoughts on the matter. (...)
Mr Chirac: I totally support, of course, what the Prime Minister said. I'd like to add something. The question was: "do you agree with the federal Europe proposed by Mr Fischer?" One must always be wary of simplistic approaches, above all when they are as simplistic as the one that's just been expressed. Firstly, I would like to remind you that the word "federalism" has very different meanings in German and French. Mr Von Taadden was talking about this again this morning, explaining the many possible mistranslations of this word "federalism" between French and German.
Secondly, in his speech, Mr Fischer isn't proposing a federal Europe, he's putting forward a general vision of Europe. And I can say that I personally greatly appreciated it. I think it was a very good approach and a very good vision of Europe and, furthermore, that this speech came at the right moment.
I.e. at the moment when it was necessary to have a serious discussion about the future of a Europe which, it's clear today, is achieving extraordinary successes - I'm thinking, of defence Europe, monetary Europe, social Europe, where there's progress, very rapid progress, industrial Europe too - but also seeing a kind of slight ebbing of its political power, apparent at both Commission and Council level, forcing us to an extent to relaunch the general debate, that about our vision of tomorrow's Europe. (...)
Q. - I've got two questions. I know you aren't going to like this, but I'm going to try all the same. "We have to restore meaning to the European enterprise", I quote the French Prime Minister when he was presenting the French presidency's priorities not long ago. Can Denmark still be useful, can it still play a role in restoring meaning to the European Union, with its great ambitions, if the Danes say "no" to the euro in a few months' time? Will there be a solution to the crisis between the Fourteen and Austria before the French presidency, or during it?
Mr Jospin: My answer is inevitably going to be very similar to the one Chancellor Schröder has just given you. In the first place it's up to the Danes to take their decision. They are going to be asked a question, since there's going to be a referendum, and will freely give their answer. As for the rest, and whatever their answer, even though one may have a preference, Denmark will continue to play its part in the European Union and contribute to giving it meaning, judging from our experience of its contribution to our European Council meetings. And as regards Austria, I think that Chancellor Schröder has excellently explained the position which has been adopted, the totally appropriate attitude of the Portuguese presidency. President Chirac is better placed to say this than I am, since he will be the President of the European Union, I see no reason for the French presidency not to take its cue from the Portuguese presidency's very good handling of this matter. (...)
Enhanced Cooperation/European Constitution
Q. - Chancellor Schröder, do you think that enhanced cooperation, which is now being discussed, as being the first stage of the Fischer plan, is automatically going to lead to the creation of a vanguard, to something else in the next few years? Are you in favour of there also soon being a European Constitution to define everyone's roles? (...)
Mr Chirac: I would just like to add two brief points.
Personally, I am very much in favour of the development of enhanced cooperation.
My second point is in answer to the second part of your question, the European Constitution. This issue which is currently being discussed isn't a matter for today. But insofar as this Constitution would say clearly who does what in the European Union of tomorrow, how the subsidiarity principle is really applied, what the relations between the Union and its component nations are, then I do indeed think that it would be useful to have a text of this nature. I repeat, to say who does what.
Social Summit/Military Observation Satellite
Q. - Firstly, on the social summit, do you want to institutionalize it, so that before each Franco-German summit there's a summit of unions and employers' organizations?
And secondly, on the German initiative vis-à-vis a military observation satellite. Do you think it's a good thing for Germany to have the radar technology and France the optical technology?
Mr Chirac: On the first question, I do indeed think it's a good thing for the French and German unions and employers' organizations to have an organized dialogue. It's obviously up to the parties involved to organize it and decide on it, and I think they should do so.
As for our optical observation satellites, radar, which you mentioned, I am obviously very much in favour of this since it would provide the Franco-German partnership with the necessary and complementary assets it needs for its defence and for European defence.
Q. - Can we know a bit more about what you said on the Euro-11?
Mr Jospin: What makes a currency strong? It's the power of the economy underpinning it. From this point of view, I think the one underpinning the euro, the European economy, is now growing. If we can manage to maintain the growth, that will guarantee the new European currency's solidity.
It's also strong if it is underpinned by a stable monetary and financial system and strong and transparent institutions. This is the case of the monetary and financial system in the European Union. Certainly, this currency must be well managed. Managed wisely, that's the job of the European Central Bank. And then there's obviously a need to give this currency a clear identity and clearly identify where the decisions on it are taken. And here, with due regard for the independence of the Central Bank, a dialogue has been forged between the political authorities responsible for these economic questions, particularly the Economy and Finance Ministers, in the euro-eleven, or soon euro-twelve, or euro-thirteen, I don't know. Improvements are being sought in the way the system operates, especially with regard to the relationship with the Central Bank, which is a discreet one and not to be talked about in public - it's here, I believe that progress can be made.
I think finally that in 2000, even though the arrival of the euro in Europeans' pockets will very probably be a shock - incidentally it needs to be well managed, the French government is doing all it can to prepare it - this currency will stop simply being one of the financial institutions or one used by some companies in their international transactions and become the currency of the Europeans, with coins and notes. That will not just give the currency its status, but also make it feel a real one.
So that's why we can be optimistic. But I remind you, what makes the quality of a currency is the strength of an economy. So let's make sure the European economy is strong and in particular that it goes on growing.
Reconnaissance Satellite System
Q. - In your view, does participation in the reconnaissance satellite system which might be integrated in NATO mean exchanging information with NATO?
Mr Chirac: There will, of course, be constant exchanges of information between those responsible for Defence Europe which is in the process of being created and NATO. So there aren't any problems.