Pri príležitosti zahájenia francúzskeho predsedníctva v Rade Európskej únie, predniesol Emmanuel Macron prejav v Európskom parlamente v Štrasburgu. Prejav bol venovaný hlavným cieľom, ktoré francúzske predsedníctvo bude sledovať. Jeho príhovor publikujeme v plnom znení.
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French presidency of the Council of the European Union
Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, before the European Parliament
Madam President, Vice-Presidents of the Commission, Commissioners, Presidents, Members of European Parliament, Madam President, may I first take this opportunity to congratulate you on being elected. As you have said, we are all thinking this morning of your predecessor, David Sassoli, who, like all of you, believed in our Europe, this Europe supported by the values that we uphold and that have united us, this Europe built on a unique model in the world balancing freedom and solidarity, tradition and progress. In this civilization that stands apart, rooted in centuries of history and this unprecedented integration of the past 70 years, which put an end to constant civil wars on our continent and of which this Parliament, which expresses here in Strasbourg the will of our people gathered together, is the incarnation. This Europe which remained firmly at the helm during the pandemic, regarding both vaccines and the economic recovery. And I am extremely happy and honoured today to speak before you at the start of the French presidency.
I would simply like to share some convictions with you as I cannot cover all issues. I am sure that we will address them in the questions afterwards. However, I would basically like to share some critical convictions which provide substance to our common agenda and our joint action. This Europe I just mentioned, our European integration, is based on three main promises. A promise of democracy which was born on our continent, which has been reinvented, reshaped and revitalized over the past 70 years. A promise of progress shared by all and a promise of peace. It has honoured its promises for these 70 years. But the times we are experiencing, reminiscent of past tragedies, and certain geographic evidences, the current upheavals we are experiencing, have had a negative impact on these three promises. I think that the challenge we are facing is how to address this situation, and not just in the coming months. But ultimately, our task, and undoubtedly the task of our generation, is to completely overhaul these promises. Promises of democracy, as I said, and it is ultimately what makes Europeans singular.
I would like to tell you here today that the French presidency will be a presidency that promotes values which define us. For maybe because they have been taken for granted, they have become vulnerable in recent years. We are a generation which is once again seeing a weakening of the rule of law and democratic values.
First, liberal democracy in the political sense of the term, in recent years, this regime that Europe has invented has been said to have grown tired and unable to address the major challenges of the century. Yet, I would like to tell you today to what extent recent months have shown that the management of the pandemic by democracy, with parliamentary debate, with a free press, with free and open academic and research systems, has led to decisions that are much more protective of lives and economies than those of authoritarian regimes. In tangible terms, we have together proved the opposite to be true of a widely accepted idea which was taking root. That is why we will stand ready to fight for liberal democracy.
To fight to protect our electoral processes from attempts of foreign interference, to fight to continue to ensure that the sovereignty of peoples prevails. In this regard, from now until the spring, our work will continue to progress within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe. And if it makes the recommendation to do so, the French presidency will promote, with Germany – the coalition agreement was very clear on these terms – your Parliament’s right of legislative initiative.
To fight for the rule of law, for this simple idea that there are universal human rights which need to be protected from the fervours of history and from their leaders. There are those who are demanding that we go back on our major fundamental texts even though they were agreed upon sovereignly by Member States at the time of their accession. But go back on what? People’s equal rights and dignity? Everyone’s right to a fair trial in an independent justice system? And basically spread the idea that, to be more effective, it is necessary to go back on the rule of law, confusing that with the legitimate right of an elected government to change the rules of the law. Yet we all must all adhere to this rule of law which is essential to our Europe, the principles of which were built by our history and are the fruit of our shared commitments.
The end of the rule of law is the reign of the arbitrary. The end of the rule of law is a sign of a return to authoritarian regimes, to our history faltering. Yes, behind all of this, there is an ideological fight. This fight is being waged by several authoritarian powers at our borders and is returning to several of our countries. We can see this revolution at work which undermines the very foundations of our history. While tolerance and civility were at the core of our civilization process, an idea is returning that is re-emerging amid our peoples. We will therefore do everything in our power to work in this direction so that – always through dialogue, but without weakness – we are able to defend the strength of this rule of law in all known circumstances. I stress through dialogue, because the idea should not take root that the rule of law is merely an invention of Brussels of which the only depositary is Brussels, which is something we have heard in certain capital cities. No, it is the fruit of all of our histories, the very fight of revolutions to free themselves from the grip of totalitarian regimes last century. The rule of law is our treasure. And therefore we must re-convince people everywhere who have moved away from it. This means we must convince them again with a great deal of respect and in a spirit of dialogue. Speaking of this European democratic singularity also gives power to this new fight.
With this in mind, I would like us to consolidate our values as Europeans which are the core of our unity, our pride and our strength. Twenty years after the proclamation of our Charter of Fundamental Rights, which established the abolition of the death penalty throughout the European Union, I would like us to update the Charter, especially so as to be more explicit about environmental protection and recognition of the right to abortion. Let’s work on this debate freely with our fellow citizens, great European thinkers, to breathe new life into our basic rights that have forged this Europe strong from its values, which is the only future of our common political project. This singularity that I have mentioned also refers to its solidarity which is unique in the world. Our societies are singular in that with their welfare states, they have invented a system to protect everyone against life’s risks. This is a legacy of our European democracies. And this pandemic has shown that solidarity, far from being a weakness, is an incomparable strength.
It is solidarity that has enabled us to save lives and protect jobs over the past two years. It is solidarity that has enabled us to provide a vaccine for all Europeans. It is this spirit of solidarity that has led us, as Europeans, to be the most open to the world, in terms of exports and donations. And I would like this French presidency to pursue this work with you and adopt legislation proposing quality, better paid jobs, with decent minimum wages to all. To reduce pay inequalities between men and women, create new rights for workers on online platforms, introduce quotas for women on corporate boards of directors and fight all types of discrimination. The different types of progress I just mentioned are not simply words and promises. They are texts that we will all receive in the coming weeks and that I would like us to pass in concrete terms over the next six months. We have the means to do it. So let’s do it.
What binds us is the singularity of this European democratic promise and the singularity of a culture that stands apart, an art of being in the world – if I dare say. What does it mean to be European? It means feeling great emotion before our treasures, the fruit of our heritage and our history, the hills of Lapland, and the golden roofs of Warsaw, this means being moved in the same way by the Romantic spirit, by the works of Chopin and the texts of Pessoa. This also means together sharing a civility, a way of living in the world, from our cafés to our museums, which is incomparable. This art of being in the world is part of our singularity with so many differences. But we come from Ancient Greece to the Roman Empire, from Christianity to the Renaissance and to the Enlightenment, heirs of a singular way of envisaging the human adventure. In this regard, I would like us to continue together to promote this European civilization made of universalism, respected culture and a common project that respects everyone’s singularities and identities. That is why we have proposed to bring together our best historians, our greatest contemporaries, to build together the legacy of this common history from which we come. This is our first focus when it comes to honouring this democratic promise, to make Europe once again – and I will not address again all the other issues that we will have in this respect to work on together in the coming six months – to make Europe a democratic, cultural and educational power proud of itself for rising to this challenge.
The second promise I mentioned is the promise of progress. Europe was never only focused on preserving the comfort of the status quo. Europe was built with economic growth in mind, a model for the future, giving working-class and middle-class people the possibility to gain from all the benefits of this progress. In recent years, this promise has become vulnerable. Growing inequalities, de-industrialization, new challenges, particularly climate and digital challenges, have cast doubt over our continent. And now the challenge facing us is to build an original model to address the major challenges of the century. A model for the future that will help us to honour this promise of progress. The climate is at the top of the list. Europe is the place where, in Paris, in 2015, a universal climate conscience was developed. It is the continent which, with the goal of carbon neutrality in 2050, first set the most ambitious goals of the planet.
Now, we have to move from intention to action. Transforming our industries, investing in technologies of the future, whether it be batteries or hydrogen, is the very aim of the pact. The Commission has put forward ambitious proposals and we now have to implement a number of them together in the coming weeks. Urge all the actors in Europe and across the globe to meet this environmental requirement. That is the very meaning behind the border carbon adjustment mechanism that we have long been waiting for. That is also the meaning behind the mirror measures in the trade agreements we defend. That is also the meaning behind negotiations for passing the world’s first law against imported deforestation. In the weeks ahead, we will have important decisions to make, including on these essential issues of our strategy. We will have to deploy them nationally and we will also have to promote our objectives while reconciling them with our objectives regarding biodiversity and the fight against climate change. In this regard, we will hold a One Ocean Summit in February where many member countries, the Commission and many of us will have an important strategy to present, because we are a major maritime power and also have a biodiversity agenda to advocate.
The second challenge of the century is the digital revolution. We Europeans, who believe above all in the spreading of knowledge, we who invented the figure of an honest man imbued with humanity, are not going to reject this extraordinary movement. But the challenge we face is twofold. The first facet is building a genuine digital single market that will enable us to create European champions. That means an investment in new technologies, an investment in new sectors, as the Commission has proposed on several occasions. That means the consolidation of a Europe capable of financing its champions, and a Europe that is also capable of simplifying its law to build a genuine single market: a domestic market on a giant scale. And at the same time, that means Europe must be capable of regulating digital actors, precisely to preserve the Enlightenment spirit I referred to, to protect our rights, our freedoms and our privacy. When it comes to fighting speech of hatred and division too, alongside you, MEPs, we will also have important texts to perfect, texts on digital services, which you will vote on tomorrow. The coming months can see the emergence of a European digital model which both organizes fair competition between actors and fights the tendencies platforms have to kill innovation, all while protecting citizens. These two major texts, among others, which we need to forge are those which will enable us to economically protect digital actors and others, in the face of champions that sometimes have an unfair advantage, while also protecting our citizens and democratic debate from manipulation and hate speech, where nobody is ultimately responsible, against which we need these new regulations. The third challenge is of course that of our security. This promise of future progress will only be realized if, in the face of geopolitical disorder, terrorist threats, cyber attacks and irregular immigration, in these times of turbulence, we manage to find an answer. To rise to this return of tragedy to history, Europe needs to arm itself; not in fear of other powers, no, but to ensure its independence in this world of violence, to not simply be subject to the choices of others: in order to be free.
Firstly, to restore control of our territory and borders. We have made great progress in the ongoing reinforcement of Frontex, and the French presidency of the Council of the EU will put forward a reform of the Schengen Area which is essential to fulfil its original promise as an area of free movement. We need to protect our external borders, including by creating an intergovernmental rapid reaction force. We need to ensure solidarity when it comes to taking in migrants, as we have between 2018 and 2021. We need to forge partnerships with countries of origin and transit to fight trafficking networks and make our returns policy effective. Fundamentally, we need to build a more effective policy to fight irregular immigration, but one respectful of our principles.
SECURITY AND DEFENCE
When it comes to defence, lastly, we cannot satisfy ourselves with merely responding to international crises. We need power to anticipate, organizing the security of our environment. Considerable progress, unprecedented in our history, has been made in recent years. During these six months, we will have to enshrine considerable progress in many areas, with the adoption of the Strategic Compass that was launched under the German presidency, with the definition of our own security doctrine, in synergy with NATO, and with a genuine technological independence, industrial and defence strategy, without which this Europe of Defence is meaningless and an empty shell. As you will have understood from this agenda, the aim is to restore, together, a Europe that is a power of the future: a Europe capable of responding to climate, technological and digital challenges, and geopolitical challenges; an independent Europe that continues to ensure it has the means to decide itself on its future, not depending on the choices of the other great powers.
Lastly, I spoke of the promise of peace. Today, our Europe faces an escalation in tensions, particularly in our neighbourhood, and global disruption: a return, as I said earlier, to the tragedy of war. But our model, which flows over our borders, cultivating in the tradition of our forefathers a universal vocation, today has a responsibility: rethinking some of our neighbourhood policies, and rethinking our place in the world to forge a genuine balancing power, for that is, I believe, the vocation of our Europe.
Europe has the duty to offer the African continent a new alliance. The destinies of the two shores of the Mediterranean are linked, and we cannot decently address the issue of migration without addressing its root causes and discussing our common destiny with Africa. It is in Africa that part of the world’s upheaval is at work, part of the future of the continent and its young people, but also our future.
In liaison with Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, we will hold a summit in February to renew our partnership with Africa. We will thus help our African friends face the pandemic. Some 700 million doses will have been delivered by June 2022, but in the coming months, we need to take a new step forward, reinventing a new alliance with the continent.
Firstly, we need an economic and financial New Deal with Africa, based on what we built in May last year, where Europe proposed, advocated and launched the issue of IMF special drawing rights and the reallocation of our rights, but with very tangible investment proposals. Secondly, we need an education, health and climate agenda for the continent’s development and to give hope to Africa’s young people. Thirdly, we need a security agenda, involving European support to African States faced with the rise of terrorism, as we have done together in the Sahel. Lastly, we need to fight irregular migration and trafficking networks to better foster movement linked to cultural, academic and economic alliances.
Secondly, Europe cannot afford to look away from the Western Balkans any longer. Given their geography and their history, given the share of tragedy and the share of future promise they bear, the Western Balkans are central to the European continent. They bear scars that remind us of both the fragility of peace and the strength of our union. That is why it is today up to us, there too, to rethink our relationship with the countries of the Western Balkans and give them clearer, more transparent, proactive and sincere prospects of accession. Not accession as a bulwark, to push back the foreign attempts at destabilization that we are seeing at present. Positive accession, through adherence to our project, in a reasonable period.
We have modernized the negotiation process in recent months, but we also know in very real terms that today’s Europe, with its current rules of functioning, cannot become a 31-, 32- or 33-member Europe. That is not possible, and we must not lie to ourselves. In the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and its results in May, we will therefore have to overhaul our rules to make them clearer and more transparent, so that we can make faster, more powerful decisions, while being sincere politically when it comes to the framework of this Europe in which the Western Balkans have their place. We therefore need to reinvent both the functioning rules and the geography of our Europe. That is why the Conference on the Future of Europe will need to be followed by a conference on the Western Balkans, organized just afterwards, to discuss this crucial subject.
Thirdly, Europe and the United Kingdom also need to return to the path of trust. I will not, given the time I have here, and I will soon have finished, dwell on this subject. Nothing will threaten our bonds of friendship with the British people. Our work side by side to defend liberal democracy, freedom and economic and social progress is too deep-rooted and long-standing. But continuing along this shared path after Brexit requires the British Government to comply in good faith with the agreements concluded with our Union, and requires us to clearly ensure the commitments are respected. That applies when it comes to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and to the rights of our fishers, just as it will apply to the essential issues that we will have to discuss in future. We must be firm and clear, to ensure the commitments that have been made are kept. That is the requirement if we are to remain friends.
Lastly, Europe needs to build a collective security order on our continent. Our continent’s security requires strategic rearmament of our Europe as a power of peace, a balancing power, particularly in dialogue with Russia. I have been advocating this dialogue for several years. It is not optional, for our history and our geography are stubborn, both for ourselves and for Russia, and for security in our continent which is indivisible. We need this dialogue. We, as Europeans, must collectively set down our own demands, and put ourselves in a position to ensure they are respected. Frank, demanding dialogue is needed in response to attempted destabilization, interference and manipulation.
What we need to build is a European order founded on principles and rules to which we have committed, and which we established not against or without Russia, but with Russia, 30 years ago now. And I want to reaffirm that order here: rejection of the use of force, of threats and of coercion; the free choice for States to take part in the organizations, alliances and security arrangements they wish; the inviolability of borders, the territorial integrity of States, and the rejection of spheres of influence. I am talking about principles that we, Europeans, and Russia, signed 30 years ago. It is up to us, as Europeans, to defend these principles and rights that are inherent to the sovereignty of States. It is up to us to reaffirm their value and effectively sanction their breach. Sovereignty is a freedom. It is central to our European project. It is also a response to the attempts at destabilization at work on our continent. That is why we will continue, alongside Germany in the Normandy Format, to seek a political solution to the conflict in Ukraine, which remains the source of the current tensions. And we need your collective support to bolster our efforts.
That is also why we will be vigilant to ensure Europe makes its single, powerful voice heard on the issue of strategic weapons, on conventional arms control, on the transparency of military activities and on respect for the sovereignty of all European States, regardless of their histories. In the coming weeks, we need to bring to being a European proposal to forge a new security and stability order. We need to build it between Europeans, then share it with our allies in the NATO framework. And then, we need to propose it to the Russians for negotiation.
Members of the European Parliament, I was born in 1977 and the time of my youth was the time when Europe was an evidence. On the bloodied fields of northern France where I grew up, Europe represented peace as an intangible evidence. Like many of you here, I then experienced the great European doubt, with the French referendum of 2005, the accusation of technocracy, and the risk of the Union breaking up during the sovereign debt crisis. Today, it is up to our generations to renew our Europe to fulfil its promises of democracy, progress and peace. Collectively, we have provided the tools to make our Europe a democratic, cultural and educational power and a power of the future, and a balancing power. To do that, we will have many essential texts in the coming weeks and months and I am counting on close, harmonious work with the European Parliament, given all these texts, and shared ambitions. Together, in the face of the tyranny of the anecdote and divisions between Europeans, we need to rediscover the sense of unity and the taste for the long-term, ultimately daring, and the sense of what Robert Schuman called creative efforts, without invective, divisions, prohibitions or tricks. These creative efforts are what made our Europe what it is. That mean that past and pre-crisis policies, past and pre-crisis formats, past reflexes, the return to nationalism or the dissolution of our identities will not be the answers to the world that is emerging. But our ability to invent a possible dream, to make it tangible, to make it a reality, to make it useful to our citizens, will be the key to our success. We have the strength, and the means. That is why I am confident in us. Thank you.
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