French FM: Europe must be sovereign in security, defense and digital technology

In the speech by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian, Honorary Guest of the Conference of Dutch Ambassadors to The Hague, he pointed the importance of European sovereignty in action regarding defense and security as the future compass for Europe to position itself globally.
French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian
 Michel Christen / 6444A European Union 2013 - EP

- I believe that the time to make choices has come. To decide what we want to be, and also what world we want to live in. And I believe that we cannot meet the expectations of our citizens – their need for security, their aspiration to prosperity, their desire to prepare for the future – if we do not take action in every area to ensure Europe can do so – said Le Drian while questioning Europe's power to deal with the emerging global disruptions to the world order.

But to establish the concrete security measures Europe needs ''concrete military, economic and technological means to better preserve our shared conception of the world order''.

While greeting the future joint initiative of France and Netherlands in innovations and foreign policy Le Drian expressed major points for Europe's future vision.

In the following we are bringing you the highlights of his speech.

Europe needs to act avoiding crucial errors

Le Drian is calling that Europe can no longer hesitate and needs to act every time it is necessary.

At the same time it shouldn't commit four strategic errors mentioned as following:

1. The error of allowing force to prevail over law; as if allowing arms to speak without trying to return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue, could be a solution.

2. Believe that approach that has enabled our continent to recover from two world wars and advance towards its reunification could only work for Europe.

3. Forgetting that history can always be tragic and that the lessons history has taught us could be swept away by world events and conflagration.

4. Believing that we can ensure our place and our security in a brutal and violent world simply through the example of our model and with our words.

Europe is back

''Since the start of the year, from the Middle East to the Sahel region, by way of Libya, we have, as Europeans, stepped up our initiatives and shown that Europe is back. It is back with clear objectives, which are to ensure our security, prevent escalation, find the path to negotiations everywhere, and commit to restoring stability over the long term.'' - he said highlighting it is back with the ''clout of the institutions and the agility of action coalitions that bring together, on a case-by-case basis the most willing European players', among which is certainly supportive Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU.

Europe has regained its strength

''Regarding the Libyan crisis, which directly concerns Europe because of terrorism , migration and the power games issues, Le Drian mentioned the importance of the Berlin and Pau summit, as well as the European action in addressing the Gulf region.

In Berlin, the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council and the High Representative were by our side and the EU is now going to play its full role in implementing what was decided. Our immediate priority is to support the United Nations in order to consolidate the truce. Our second priority is to then achieve a lasting ceasefire. And work has also been launched to enforce the arms embargo and document blatant violations, using all the means at our disposal''.

Josep Borrell and Charles Michel were in Pau, when France held a crucial Summit with the G5 Sahel countries. The EU and the Member States supported the launch of the International Coalition that we proposed. I believe this is a major turning point for the Sahel, that we need to support collectively through 4 goals (…): fight against terrorism, building military and interventions capabilities of G5 Sahel countries; helping to restore the government control and services, doing more and better in terms of development.

Together, at an emergency meeting called by the High Representative in Brussels, we backed the same call for restraint and de-escalation. This is crucial to the stability of the region and the combat that we are waging against Daesh within the Global Coalition.This fight by the Coalition against Daesh has to continue, while respecting Iraqi sovereignty. The message sent by the Iraqi Parliament a few days ago, although it came in a particular context, must be taken as a political message. The continuation of the Global Coalition against Daesh’s action requires proper linkage too with the concept of Iraqi sovereignty. I believe we have understood.

Along with seven other Member States – Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Portugal and, of course, the Netherlands – we just launched the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) mission, in this spirit of restraint and de-escalation.

Regarding the JCPoA, the European Union and its Member States reiterated their determination to preserve the agreement and to get Iran to resume its compliance with its commitments as soon as possible. Along with Germany and the United Kingdom, we have decided to activate the JCPoA conflict-resolution mechanism. We have done so to ensure the agreement is respected, and did so within its framework. We did so in order to open a space for political dialogue and to signal a rejection of the US maximum pressure approach that only heightens Iranian resilience and precipitates exactly what it is meant to prevent. We need to do everything we can to prevent a nuclear proliferation crisis from compounding the current situation of instability.''

Europe needs to stop being naive

''Europe needs to be free to make its own decisions and its own choices. In a word,i t must be sovereign.

That is no doubt our greatest challenge, and that which will determine our ability to face the others. It is also today our greatest duty to our peoples, who expect us, if I may, to “take back control”.

And so, in face of the rivalry between powers that is redefining the world, I think that the time has come for a European aggiornamento. We need to open our eyes to the reality of international power relations. In a way, we need to stop being naive. Yes, stop being naive, not only to preserve our interests, but also to defend what we believe in as Europeans. ''

Embarking the digital technology challenge

''This is an area in which it is particularly important for us to set down the conditions today for renewed exercise of our sovereignty.

These technologies are now central to our lives. When the devices we use are made in China, when the content we consult is produced in the United States, when our companies are threatened by innovations designed on another continent, when our private lives are known in every detail and we lose control of our personal data, our citizens are right to ask themselves questions and also ask us questions. And we have the duty to answer.

What is at play for Europe – for its States, businesses and citizens – is, deep down, maintaining freedom to act...''

Future vision of digital sovereignty

''What is at play is our ability to promote the original European vision: a vision that does not seek to ensure our supremacy, or to turn us inwards, but to guarantee a safe, open, single and neutral space. This is the vision that we need to promote.

1. A safe space, because there can be no sovereignty in a cyber space where our infrastructure and data are not protected, and that could even be diverted for terrorist purposes.

2. An open space, because we cannot exercise our sovereignty if cyber space is subject to access restrictions decided by others.

3. A single space, because a segmented, inward-facing cyber space would be incompatible with the values we promote.

4. A neutral space, because there can be no discrimination, for reasons of profits or politics, on the basis of the nature and origin of the data that circulates on digital networks.

In just a few years, the flow of radical innovations that transformed the world gave way to a few highly monopolistic global players, which now occupy positions of economic dominance with an unprecedented power to set the course, to the extent that it is now difficult for European businesses and governments to innovate without making use of the resources shared – under conditions – by the sector’s giants. What’s more, it’s a vicious circle because every time we use the resources of these companies, we strengthen their dominant position by giving them access to more data – our data, which then become their data – and often, without realizing it.

As in security and defence, the need for European sovereignty should be our compass.''

New industrial policy

''We therefore need to fight to ensure that our companies, governments, scientists and citizens can enjoy conditions allowing them to innovate without being dependent on technologies owned and controlled by others, without being bound by terms of use under Californian law, or depending on Chinese or Russian companies with national models differing from our own.

And I am convinced that we cannot achieve that, as we have sometimes envisaged, by creating industrial giants from scratch, at the initiative of the State or States. I believe that what we need is a new type of industrial policy.

1. We need to implement a genuine incentive strategy to encourage our companies to work on disruptive innovation. I have in mind quantum computing research and certain aspects of cloud computing.

2. We need to position ourselves for the coming battles, trusting our companies, our European companies, giving them what they need, a framework, the rules required to innovate, and to finalize the creation of a European digital market that takes on board this need for European sovereignty.

3.And of course, at the same time, we need to identify the new strategies of digital domination and work together to find ways and means of regulating them. I particularly have in mind the issue of artificial intelligence and big data.

This agenda to build digital sovereignty is ambitious, I know. But Europeans, and certainly not the founding members of the European Union, have ever faltered in the face of difficulty.''

“All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare - Omnia praeclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt." (Spinoza)

(edited by Karla Juničić,

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01. ožujak 2024 23:12