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Remarks by President Michel following his meeting with President Macron

Remarks given recently (11 January 2021) by President Michel following his meeting with President Macron.

Thank you very much, Mr President.

Let me begin by thanking you for this opportunity to work together and to prepare the coming months under the French Presidency, which I am sure will give momentum to the topics you have raised, which are essential for Europeans and for the future of the European Union. Naturally, I also wish to join you in the tribute you have paid to the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli. I, too, would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends. David Sassoli was a great European, passionate, sincere, generous and authentic, and in recent years, we had the opportunity to work with him on a daily basis to promote European values, to promote the values of democracy and the rule of law. He was a man who contributed competently, intelligently and elegantly to forging important decisions at the head of the European Parliament, in cooperation with the Council and the European Council as well.

I would like to mention some of the topics on the European Union’s agenda. On the one hand, as has been mentioned, we have been preparing major upcoming events, notably the African Union-European Union Summit in February, for which we have a common ambition, widely shared in Europe, and I believe also in Africa, to build a new alliance between Africa and Europe. We believe we have a common destiny. We need to better connect our models of prosperity, better connect our ambitions for stability and security. And we hope that this event in February will be an opportunity to shape the new paradigm of this Europe-Africa alliance, for which we hold great ambitions in terms of investment, climate change, the digital revolution, infrastructure, connectivity, security and governance.

We will also be able in the coming weeks, I am convinced, to move gradually from managing the COVID-19 crisis - which has kept us very busy and under a lot of pressure - to consolidating an economic recovery project, built around innovation, investment and collective European intelligence. I really want to praise the leadership of the French Presidency, and of President Macron in particular, for being the driving force, for quite some time now, behind the debate on the idea of European sovereignty or strategic autonomy as it is sometimes called; an idea based on two pillars, clearly a security and defence pillar, which is linked to the international geopolitical situation - that President Macron has just mentioned - though also to our ambition to consolidate our economic model, our model of prosperity. To this end, the French proposal to hold a summit in France in March focusing on investment and growth will be an important moment for the European project, as it will be an occasion for all European stakeholders to look each other in the eye, draw up joint strategies for innovation and investment, and determine a common priority for the coming years. This will, I am certain, be a landmark event and we will continue to prepare it carefully.

I have no doubt that other meetings will also prove extremely important. The digital issue will continue to be an important topic on the European agenda, reflecting our ability to innovate and to shape European standards that combine the potential for economic growth with respect for our fundamental values: for example, our privacy and the issue of data. And then, of course, there is the climate agenda, and inherent in that, the need to forge implementing measures that will enable us to meet ambitious objectives we have agreed on: climate neutrality by 2050 and the strengthening of our 2030 targets.

Let me also mention that we will be very active on the international front. Apart from the issue of our relationship with Africa, which is very important, a number of geopolitical tectonic plates are clearly shifting. And the time has come for the European Union to affirm its ambition to coordinate efforts to achieve stability and the security architecture. The Strategic Compass has been the subject of debate for some time now, and we will most certainly have the opportunity, especially in March, to make progress and move forward on this issue which matters deeply to us and calls for us to act in the interest of stability and security.

To conclude, let me thank you again for this opportunity to work together today; rest assured that you can count on the full support of the European Council to work in close cooperation with you personally and all your teams to ensure that this French Presidency is a strong and effective driving force for our common European project .

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Barend Leyts

Spokesperson for the European Council President

+32 2 281 5150
+32 486 22 68 65

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