EU must tackle Brexit talks "with solidarity" - Minister

European Union – Bilateral relations – Statements by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, at his joint press conference with his counterpart, Ms Margot Wallström (excerpts)

Stockholm, 13 March 2017

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We talked, of course, about our bilateral relations. France is present in every field, particularly economically. I’d like to give two figures: 100,000 French people work in Swedish businesses in France and 40,000 Swedes in French businesses in sectors like energy, transport and housing, which are top-notch sectors in France too. I’ll shortly be visiting the ecodistrict of Hammarby Sjöstad with the Mayor of Stockholm. There’s also the academic and research field, student exchanges and the culture sector. I remember the exhibition “A Swede in Paris in the 18th Century” at the Louvre Museum. France also has a presence in Sweden at the Stockholms Kulturnatt and is going to continue this activity.

Right now I’d like to thank Sweden for the solidarity it showed after the attacks that deeply affected my country. And once again I’d like to express my gratitude to the Swedes for lending their support on Article 42.7 of the Treaty on European Union [the mutual defence clause]. Internationally, I want to pay tribute here to our intense cooperation at the Security Council, of which Sweden is now a member, an especially active member. We agree on key issues like the fight against climate disruption, and on development, in particular in Africa, but also linking security and development in Africa, in the Sahel, where our two countries are engaged in MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali]. And also insofar as we can make our contribution together to resolving crises – I’m thinking of Ukraine and Syria. And on Syria, we’re very committed to the negotiation process under way in Geneva. I’d also like to pay tribute to Margot Wallström’s personal involvement in the UN Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and lend France’s full support. On 8 March in Paris we organized an international meeting to mark International Women’s Day. We adopted a declaration which we called the Paris Pledge.

Of course, we discussed the future of the European Union, a few days ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty. And the purpose of our dialogue is to strengthen the EU, especially because, after the Brexit decision, it’s important to show the world, and first of all Europeans, that the European Union is the future of our nations and that we must tackle the Brexit negotiation issue not separately but with solidarity and a desire to conduct negotiations that are not aggressive but fair and respectful of everyone’s interests.

Of course, such difficult issues as the migration crisis were on the agenda of our discussions.

And also the European social agenda. Sweden has taken the initiative of deepening Social Europe by organizing a social summit for jobs and sustainable growth in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017. France welcomes this initiative and will make its contribution, so as to make the summit a real success for Europeans. (…)./.

Published on 16/03/2017

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