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The Warsaw Voice » Other » July 9, 2008
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France Takes on EU Challenge
July 9, 2008   
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French Ambassador to Poland François Barry Delongchamps talks to Ewa Hancock.

On his recent visit to Warsaw, French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled plans for a French-Polish strategic partnership. How will the partnership work?

During the second Polish-French summit in Warsaw May 28, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Polish President Lech Kaczyñski signed a Polish-French Strategic Partnership declaration. The French president also signed a Cooperation Program with Prime Minister Donald Tusk to bring the partnership into force.

The French and Polish leaders expressed their will to consolidate cooperation between France and Poland and named their priorities for the coming years. Covering the entire scope of cooperation, the Strategic Partnership establishes intensified political dialogue and a mechanism for consultation and cooperation on European affairs, most notably major challenges facing our countries. Under the partnership, France and Poland will work closer together in the areas of defense, energy, environmental protection, economy, infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications, agriculture, jurisdiction, culture, and education. France and Poland will work together organizing major cultural events and, for example, in 2010 they will join forces to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Frederic Chopin.

The partnership is entering into force as we speak. During the summit in Warsaw, we signed four new contracts. Three years ago, France and Poland appointed three task forces that have since worked on energy, agriculture and transportation.

I would also like to remind you that the French president said all Polish citizens were welcome in France. In a speech to the Polish parliament in Warsaw, the president announced France would abolish all restrictions in access to its labor market for citizens of eight countries which joined the EU in 2004.

The priorities of French-Polish cooperation largely match those of the French presidency in the EU. Defense is a case in point. We are happy to see the growing involvement of Poland in European defense. The same is true of agriculture, transportation, energy and the battle against climate change.

The French presidency begins at a crisis point for the EU. Irish citizens have rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum, which many politicians say will considerably hinder reforms within the EU. What can Paris do to solve the crisis?
France does not have a miraculous solution to offer, unfortunately. President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have said they respect the results of the Irish referendum, even though they regret what happened. During the European Council summit June 18-19, European leaders agreed the ratification process should continue. We also need to listen to what our Irish partners have to tell us. The French presidency of the EU will, naturally, be willing to help Europe move forward.

The world is facing a fuel and energy crisis caused by an upsurge in fuel prices on global markets. European countries are no exception and their economic development is largely dependent on energy security. Do you think Europe will inevitably experience an economic slowdown? What can be done to improve this state of affairs?
This is a very unsettling issue. President Sarkozy has proposed that the EU consider regulating VAT rates on fuel. European citizens are expecting Europe to come up with concrete solutions. In the long run, this situation leads to questions of energy security, which is one of the priorities of the French EU presidency. It seems prices of crude oil will continue to rise. European economies will have to adjust to this evolution and seek new ideas to become more independent of liquid fuels on the one hand and prevent climate change on the other. From this point of view, the development of nuclear power, something that France excels in, is the answer for the future. France is ready to help Poland develop this sector.

Europe also has to reflect on the ways we travel and introduce sustainable transport systems that consume little energy and respect the environment. France can contribute much here as well, especially when it comes to high-speed trains and, later, new railway connections in Europe.
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