February 23, 2018
Latest News

Nathalie Loiseau: France has ignored Eastern Europe for too long

 France's Minister of European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau. (File photo: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

France's Minister of European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau. (File photo: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

France is looking east to launch a reform of the EU and is seeking Central Europe’s support on defence, migration, trade and posted workers briefs. EPA's partner EURACTIV Slovakia reports.

Minister of European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau followed President Emmanuel Macron during his tour of Eastern Europe.

By Pavol Szalai

French President Macron has visited Salzburg, Bucharest and Varna. What are the outcomes of this tour and how do they fit in with France’s foreign relations in Central and Eastern Europe?

Macron’s first presidential tour in Central and Eastern Europe sends a strong signal from France. We are convinced every European state has its place and its importance in the ongoing discussion on European reform.

Macron’s vision is of an ambitious and nurturing Europe. He had the possibility to share his agenda on four themes: posted workers, European defence policy, migration and asylum policies, and trade.

The debate he had with his counterparts in Austria, Romania and Bulgaria highlighted a convergence of views and the shared will to progress on crucial issues. The reform of the posted workers directive is a good example because in its current state it incentivises fraud and contributes to social dumping.

It is the opposite of cooperation and convergence, which lay at the core of the European project.

We hope Macron’s diplomatic tour has laid the foundations for reaching a compromise during the autumn under the Estonian presidency of the Council. Last week’s debate also allowed us to move forward on defence and security.

The Slovak government said it was “enthusiastic” about deepening European integration, especially on defence policy, the Eurozone and social affairs.
Yet it only allowed in a handful of refugees. From your viewpoint in Paris, is the migration and refugee crisis a matter for “core Europe” only?

The strong will of the Slovak government to participate in propelling Europe forward is very much appreciated in France. We share this desire to move Europe forward. Macron said a few days ago, during his encounter in Salzburg with the Slavkov Triangle [Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia], that he believes in “an ambitious and good-willed Europe”.

The 2015 crisis has attained huge proportions and it requires necessary measures of solidarity to cope with the mass influx of asylum seekers. We owe this solidarity to “first-port-of entry” countries, which find themselves in this situation simply because of geography. Today we have to focus on the reform of the European asylum regime, the strengthening of our external borders, and the fight against human trafficking networks.

We are also working with source countries of economic migration and with transit countries.

Slovakia recently signed a memorandum on structural cooperation with Germany, in order to close the distance with the “European core”. Does France plan to intensify its sector-wide cooperation with central Europe?

Benefitting from the experience and support of others to become closer to “Europe’s core”, to use Robert Fico’s [Slovak prime minister] phrase, is a very wise choice.

You must have noted that Macron has been reinforcing France’s relations with central Europe since his election last May, who have long been neglected in French diplomacy. He had a first summit with the Visegrad group [the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia] during his first European Council, last June. His first European tour, which has just finished, has allowed him to exchange views with his Austria, Slovak, Czech, Romanian and Bulgarian counterparts very constructively on issues that are of real concern to our respective citizens.

I am personally engaged in meeting all of our partners as soon as possible. I will take part in Bled’s strategic forum in Slovenia on 4 and 5 September, a high-level meeting to discuss regional and global challenges that impact central and South-Eastern Europe. An unmissable occasion to exchange views with decision makers in the region. I think France is clearly showing its will to engage more closely with central Europe!

The Visegrad group is currently split between, on one side, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who are in favour of deepening European integration – and on the other, Hungary and Poland. Is it still a viable long-term partner for France?

Of course. Our approach is simple: we need to talk, discuss, and exchange views with everyone. Multilateral discussions like with the Visegrad group have their place in this. They are not exclusive and they don’t replace bilateral relationships, which we want to have with each member of the EU.

You’ve been a women’s rights advocate and former director of ENA [Ecole Nationale d’Administration – French civil service school], and you worked as a diplomat for 26 years. Diplomacy has changed an awful lot. What are the challenges facing diplomats today, and particularly women diplomats?

This is a broad question. The world we live in is constantly changing and does not allow for reproducing old models. This is true for the diplomatic profession as much as for all other aspects of public life.

Diplomacy today has been completely transfigured by these far-reaching changes. Globalisation goes far beyond national borders: climate change, epidemics, fake news, and cyber attacks are cross-border challenges.

Some modern enterprises are global economic players, sometimes much more powerful than states. Diplomacy must evolve along with a constantly changing world.

This is true for every diplomat, male or female! The skills and endowments for being a good diplomat are equally shared among the sexes, but unfortunately, there are social and cultural habits that linger on.

In numerous countries, women diplomats have to face stereotypes, preconceptions, glass ceilings, and self-censorship. I wrote about this [Choisissez tout, Editions JC Lattès,2014], not to finger-point French diplomacy but because it is the professional environment that I know best and on which I could have some insight.

French diplomacy has made huge steps towards gender equality, thanks to affirmative action, but there is still a long way to go and we must stay vigilant. Above all, we should not think that improvements will happen by themselves and that we can’t go backwards.

News history
Minister: Malaysia will retaliate against EU goods in case of palm oil ban

The European Parliament’s decision to ban palm oil, Malaysia’s biggest export item, is “drastic and discriminatory” and Kuala Lumpur is ready to retaliate...

IOM chief: There is no migration crisis but a political emergency

EU leaders need to find the courage of unity to manage migration, which has the potential to help the EU economy grow more than expected. But the window of...

Alain Lamassoure: Transnational lists – a crazy idea

The European conservatives are opposed to the project of transnational lists for the European elections, but risk losing during the vote on the matter on 6...

Moscovici: ‘The credibility of the EU tax haven black list is at stake’

The EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici is determined to table a digital tax proposal at EU level, despite warnings from the OECD. In an...

WEF co-chair: Greed is still the economic engine

In an increasingly fractured world, change will not happen if the current model of corporate greed continues to dominate the future, 2018 World Economic...

Karmenu Vella: ‘Well-designed’ plastics tax could help hit environment targets

As the European Commission sketches out its vision for the future of plastic production and pollution in its new strategy, the EU executive’s environment...

British Council boss: Brexit won’t change the way we help the world

The British Council will continue to do the work it has always done, despite Brexit, and its priorities in areas like Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and...

Expert: The EU political agenda must be set by ordinary citizens

Arguing for an alternative vision of European cooperation, political scientist Richard Youngs told EPA 's partner EURACTIV that an EU rethink must...

Hübner: The European Union is more transparent than national governments

Compared to the national governments of the member states, the European Union is ahead of the curve when it comes to transparency, former Regional Policy...

Dzurinda: EU must seek solution for migration outside its borders

The solution to the migration crisis is beyond the European Union borders and the EU must be prepared to talk to all relevant players in troubled countries...

Stockholm mayor: Cohesion policy is strongest form of EU solidarity

Stockholm produces more billion dollar companies than any other place outside Silicon Valley and the European Commission recently proclaimed it Europe’s...

UN Environment chief: We shouldn’t wait for the oceans to turn into a plastic swamp

At the latest United Nations environment summit, pollution topped the agenda. The man leading the UN’s quest to clean up the planet hopes this meeting will...

ECRE head: Asylum management needs compliance, not new laws

Some European countries are trying to enact restrictive policies and create a hostile atmosphere to discourage migrants and asylum seekers, blatantly...

S&D chief: ‘Employment for young Africans is a huge challenge’

On the eve of the EU-Africa Summit, Gianni Pittella says that European short-termism in migration policy will not address its root causes, and looks at...

UN chief: Migration ‘highly desirable’ if managed humanely and responsibly

For the first time, the Paris Agreement acknowledged climate change causes migration. At COP23 in Bonn, the big question is how to address it, William Lacy...

Swoboda: ‘Borissov? We have had many strange guys leading governments’

The former long-serving leader of the S&D group in the European Parliament Hannes Swoboda provided EPA 's partner EURACTIV insight ahead of the...

Tomáš Zdechovský: The EU begins in the stomach of a Czech citizen

The Czechs do not know anything about the EU’s global strategies or the interconnection of energy networks. But they know very well that they can buy...

S&D chief works for a progressive alliance away from ‘Orbánising’ EPP

Navracsics: Education policy is tomorrow’s economic policy

Europe’s future schools need to be more skills-oriented. Faced with falling education expenditure, member states need to keep focused on their education...

Airbus exec.: EU ‘bonus’ for aviation biofuels may be too little

The European Commission’s proposal to incentivise the production of biofuels for aircraft with a 20% “multiplier” goes in the right direction, says Thierry...

City leader: Europe must simplify rules to help cities become more resilient

Europe is moving in the right direction in helping its cities become more resilient and sustainable, but the EU must streamline its myriad regulations and...

European Parliament VP: ‘We must use the window of opportunity’ to deepen EU integration

Current conditions are ideal to push the EU towards becoming a European federal state, according to one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament,...

Jourova: EU rules on company seat transfers means savings for business

European firms could save millions in start-up and merger costs if they could use EU rules on cross-border transfer of registered office, says Věra...

EU digital official: Cyber threats know no borders

Linda Cogruedo Steneberg, Director at the the European Commission’s DG Connect , revealed how the EU executive is trying to extend broadband coverage and...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.