France wants European Commission’s decision on Portugal reached "very soon"
Portugal – European Union – Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, during his joint press briefing with the Prime Minister of Portugal
Lisbon, 19 July 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wanted to have a discussion with Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Europe, since we have an important meeting, the Bratislava summit, then another, which is of course to decide on the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
On these two subjects, we completely agree. The negotiation with the United Kingdom must be started soon, so that uncertainty is reduced as much as possible and Europe itself can define its relationship with the United Kingdom, which is a friend, and also among the 27 in order to provide fresh impetus.
At the Bratislava summit, we’ll have the opportunity to talk in detail about what the European enterprise could be, particularly when it comes to the security and protection dimension, but also investment, employment, young people and, finally, strengthening the Euro Area.
Since I’m talking about the Euro Area, there’s the issue of Portugal, a country which has made huge efforts and agreed to make many sacrifices to comply with the rules. France wants the European Commission to take its decision very soon, because we can’t ask Portugal to do more than it has already, and it’s very important for Portugal itself to be able to show that the commitments for 2016 and 2017 will be honoured. The sooner the decisions are taken, the more straightforward they will be – i.e. without imposing a penalty on a country which has worked, worked not only to restore its accounts to a sound footing and improve its competitiveness, but also to ensure Euro Area cohesion.
That’s also what I came to tell Portugal, because we need both common rules – we belong to the same group, the Euro Area – but also solidarity and hope. People can’t live merely with procedures, they must live with projects. The European project can’t be reduced to mere rules or disciplines. They’re necessary, but they can’t in themselves constitute the project for Europe as we see it.
France and Portugal are two great European countries. I remember – I was very young at the time – that after the fall of the dictatorship, Portugal was asking to join Europe. François Mitterrand, the then French President, was clear-sighted enough to welcome Spain and Portugal. I subscribe to that history; Portugal is a European country that has contributed a great deal to Europe, and Europe must stand alongside Portugal, just as Portugal today stands alongside France after the ordeal it’s going through. Thank you./.