European parliament
11 May 2015

France's European project

On 9 May, European countries celebrated the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration that marked the start of the European adventure 65 years ago. The anniversary provided an opportunity to underline the practical accomplishments made possible by Europe, notably with regards to the long-term peace and stability that now reign within EU countries. The Government is working to sustain this ambition, under the impetus of the Head of State.

Content published under the Government Valls II from 2014 26th August to 2016 11th February
 

Faced with challenges, and doubts towards a Europe sometimes perceived as distant, France has strong ambition for Europe: a Europe built on growth, and therefore on employment and investment, a Europe that offers its citizens protection and security, and a Europe that promotes its own cultural, social and environmental models.
 
The Government is working to sustain this ambition by supporting a European project based on three key priorities, the fundamental components of which are outlined below:
 

1/ A Europe built on growth

 
People want a prosperous Europe that creates employment and sustainable growth. The Government thus advocated a more balanced European economic strategy based on the following three pillars:
 

  • Boosting investment, with the €315bn Juncker Plan, of which the EU will need to examine all available resources if it is to be extended.

  • Budget consolidation, with the Government's commitment to bring the nominal deficit back down to less than 3% by 2017.

  • Structural reforms, with a Government economic policy based notably on an income tax decrease, a reduction in charges for low wage earners, a series of initiatives designed to restore margins and a recently decided over-amortisation of corporate investment. 

 
In the framework of current efforts to develop the Economic and Monetary Union, the Government will argue the importance of a full economic analysis of the eurozone as a whole, and not only the individual situations of each country. This is a matter not only of budgetary policy but also of structural policy and fiscal and social issues.
 
European initiatives designed to enable all under-25s to secure training or employment should be implemented in full. In addition, efforts to develop the Erasmus programme must be continued since this is one of the greatest successes the European Union has accomplished, despite the fact that it remains somewhat elitist. The Government will therefore promote the idea of a reinforced European civic service across the European Union, the introduction of a professional Erasmus programme resulting in the creation of a European apprentice status, and the introduction of a European student card providing easy access to a number of rights and services (libraries, housing, university catering facilities, etc.).
 
Furthermore, Europe needs to be on the front line with regards to energy transition in order to instil a renewed sense of hope. Greater consideration needs to be given to the fight against global warming within development models, and Europe must also speak as one voice at the Paris Climate Conference 2015, this being one of the conditions to reaching an ambitious global agreement. This is a unifying project, a driver for growth, including industrial growth, and a matter of concern for the planet.
 

2/ A Europe that offers protection

 
European citizens also need a Europe that protects them. Faced with the proliferation of risks and threats and given the profoundly different geostrategic context, European Union countries must pull together for the purpose of the following:
 

  • Effectively fighting terrorism: the priority is to implement the roadmap produced by the informal European Council of 12 February, including the creation of an airline passenger data register to help better identify potential terrorists, the targeted Schengen reform imposing compulsory systematic checks at external borders, greater resources for fighting arms trafficking and the funding of terrorism, and the various efforts undertaken on the part of Internet operators.

  • Continuing to create a European defence: the coordination between internal security and external security has been proven; indeed, through its intervention in the Sahel region, France is also fighting the development of terrorism within the Union, thus serving all Europeans. However, France cannot act alone, and neither does it want to. The objectives of the European Council in June are clear: to obtain the necessary means to deal with the issues and threats which Europeans have to face, including European military capacities (and drones in particular); consolidating the European defence industry; reinforcing its ability to initially intervene in crisis areas; and obtaining the appropriate instruments (funding and equipment) to be able to support Europe's (notably African) allies and partners in a credible manner.

  • Introducing an ambitious migration policy: while the number of migrants in the Mediterranean continues to grow, the Union needs to provide a concrete solution and develop a real European migration policy based on the following three priority courses of action: 1) dealing with the root causes of migration; 2) ensuring that external borders are effectively monitored by considering the possibility of developing the FRONTEX agency into a European border control system; 3) increasing solidarity between Member States by enabling the most heavily affected countries to fulfil their obligations where external borders are concerned, and by more effectively distributing refugees between all Member States.
     

3/ A Europe that upholds its values and interests

 
Europe is also, and even first and foremost, a community built on values. Indeed, its values are one of the strengths that enable Europe to promote its own interests in all of the fights it faces. With this in mind, it is important to prioritise the following:
 

  • Promoting the cultural and creative industries, which account for 4% of the gross domestic product, protecting copyright, introducing an appropriate taxation system and regulating digital platforms.

  • Upholding European commercial interests: this involves fiercely upholding the offensive interests of Europe (such as negotiating the transatlantic partnership, opening up of public markets and regulatory convergence) and promoting European values (social, health and environmental standards, food model, cultural exception, etc.). Trade negotiations must be effectively conducted with a sense of openness, reciprocity and compliance with the rules.

  • In order to safeguard its credibility on the international stage, Europe must ensure that these values are upheld within its territory. Both the domestic market, as a crucial asset and a major source of economic growth, and the rules regarding the free movement of workers, must observe the principles of fair competition. In practical terms, sufficient effort should be made to combat any form of social and fiscal dumping:
  1. From a social perspective, the posting of workers must continue to be monitored and the responsibility of the ordering party extended to all sectors of activity; a minimum wage should be introduced within the European Union, or at least within the eurozone, taking differences in standards of living into account.
  2. From a fiscal perspective, we need to fight any form of optimisation in order to observe one basic principle, namely that companies should not be allowed to evade tax by abusing the system. The proposals to be shortly submitted by the Commission will be significant in this respect.


Ultimately, the need for a different Europe is fundamental; it is something that the people, who believe the current situation to be overly complicated and somewhat incomprehensible, are calling for. The President of the Republic himself emphasised this point in the wake of the 2014 European elections. Simplification should therefore be a matter of top priority, both for Europe and for France, in order to enable both businesses and individuals to take full advantage of the European Union’s various programmes and policies.

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