I’ve been delighted to host David Cameron. This was his first visit to a major European country after his election – after his re-election, and I congratulated him on his success which enables him for – to enjoy a large and stable majority for the 5 years to come. We’ll be working together just like we have been working together for 3 years, as far as I’m concerned.
The relationship between France and the United Kingdom is dense and based on trust. Intense because, from an economic point of view, we have a lot of exchanges; dense because there are many British citizens in France, as well as there are many French citizens in the UK. Also dense because, for very crucial matters like defence, we share some common interest and a very fruitful cooperation, including in the nuclear and military fields.
Our relationship is also based on trust because both our countries share responsibility on a global level. First, because we are both members of the Security Council, permanent members; also because, given our history and also due to our view of the world, we want to support the countries which are asking for it or expecting a lot from our intervention, in Africa as well as in the Middle East, as we can see.
We also share the same willingness to tackle terrorism, and once again, I would like to thank David Cameron for being one of the first who called me after the terror attacks in Paris, and one of the first who arrived in Paris for the march on 11 January. As a matter of fact, we also cooperate in the field of intelligence. It is very [inaudible] based on trust.
We also share the same point of view regarding the organisation on the – of the climate conference. Again, David Cameron and his government were amongst the first to support us in preparing this major event and making sure that we could already, through our own contributions by announcing our financing, to be able to prepare as well as we could that major event.
There will be some crucial steps – the G7, the General Assembly of the UN, as well as some regional meetings and the Commonwealth meeting. All of these will contribute to getting the countries together and enabling a global agreement on climate in Paris.
In the course of our discussions this evening, we’ve talked about the place of Great Britain within the European Union. France wishes the United Kingdom to remain within the European Union. A referendum will be held as announced, and it will be for the British people to choose sovereign in – this is a matter sovereignty, for them to choose what they want for their future.
We believe it is both in the interest of Europe and that of the United Kingdom to remain together, but we always must respect peoples. David Cameron will make a number of proposals, we’ll discuss them, and we’ll see how we can move forward so that the British people can answer the question on a basis which is the most suitable for it. And over the coming weeks, the coming months, there will be discussions involving the European Commission and the European Council, and we’ve already started discussing the matter tonight.
And I would like to thank David Cameron for sharing some information with us tonight. He will then make his proposals when the time comes.
Well, thank you very much, François, for the welcome here in Paris. And I’m delighted to be back in Paris. France was the first country I visited when I became Prime Minister 5 years ago, and I’m delighted to be back here so soon after winning the general election.
France is an essential and valued partner of Britain. Our economies are interwoven. We are the 2 major military powers in Europe with global reach and with shared values. One of my first acts as Prime Minister was to draw up the Lancaster House Agreement to take defence cooperation between our countries to a new level, and I remain completely committed to that task. I want to strengthen our defence cooperation further, not just projects, but acting together where our interests are shared around the world and where we need to safeguard our countries and our peoples. We’re both committed to tackling extremism around the world and defeating terrorism. So this is a broad and deep relationship that benefits both our countries.
Tonight I want to focus briefly on 3 specific issues where Britain and France need to work together to advance our interests.
Reforming the European Union
First, the big challenges facing the European Union. My priority is to reform the European Union to make it more competitive and to address the concerns of the British people about our membership. The status quo is not good enough, and I believe there are changes we can make that will not just benefit Britain, but the rest of Europe too.
Of course, the priority for François is to strengthen the Eurozone to ensure successful single currency and Britain supports that. We want to help the Eurozone work better, and we do not want to stand in the way of closer integration. So, we have different priorities, but we share a common objective, which is to find solutions to these problems. And what matters is that the European Union and its 28 members are flexible and imaginative enough to respond to these issues, and to work together to find answers that will make the European Union more successful. That is the challenge of our times, and I believe strongly that we can meet it.
Second, climate change; this is a vital year to secure an ambitious deal that can combat climate change. I’m fully behind President Hollande’s efforts to reach agreement at the summit here in Paris in December. We need an outcome that keeps our goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees within reach. The UK is already playing its part, but we need to do more to get the private sector involved, fostering research and innovation into new clean energies, and supporting growth and jobs. That’s why we’ll put £50 million of our existing climate funding towards a new international initiative that will back new technologies for a clean energy economy. Quite simply, it’s time the market got to work on climate change.
Third and finally, I want to discuss threats to our national security. Last time I visited Paris it was to join in the march with so many leaders after the outrage at Charlie Hebdo. The world stood united with France that Sunday, and we stand united with France today. The threat from Islamist extremists remains, and we will fight it together; whether that is turning our own young people away from this poisonous ideology, whether it’s assisting Iraq security forces, supporting a moderate Syrian opposition, bolstering the political process in Libya – France and Britain will be partners.
We’ll also work together to stem the vast flows of migrants across the Mediterranean from Africa. President Hollande and I agree that we need a comprehensive approach. We must do more to tackle the causes that drive these people from their homes and stop us returning them there, rather than focusing all our efforts on how we handle those who’ve already crossed the Mediterranean.
So there’s much to discuss, and I’m looking forward to our conversations now over dinner. Thank you.