24th January 2013 Paris, France
The future of the EU and the UK's relationship with it
There is a lot happening in the world, and I wanted to talk today a bit about our support to France on Mali, and then a bit about Britain and Europe. Britain has fully supported the French military operation in Mali from the start. We entirely share France’s analysis that we can not allow Mali to collapse into chaos, and becoming a safe haven for terrorists groups. We saw in the terrible terrorist attack in Algeria what can happen if ungoverned space is left and terrorists were able to take root there.
Written version (continued)
We are continuing our support to France with transport aircraft to help get forces there quickly. We are also going to be training African forces who can move in and take over from French forces to help the Malian government to return to stability in that country.
On Europe, if you read some of the media, you might think that Britain has just announced that we are going to leave the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron made a big speech this week on Europe. The text in English and in French will be on the website during the day, please do have a look at it.
What the Prime Minister said actually was his intention is that Britain should stay as a member of the European Union. But he sees that the EU itself has major challenges: as the world changes, we have to remain competitive, open, more flexible, so that we can accomodate the diverse interests of all the different Member States.
Mr Cameron intends that Britain should play a full part in that discussion about the future of Europe, the countries of the Euro zone will want to integrate more tightly, we have interests to preserve as well, but we believe that a reformed, modern, open Europe is in the interest of all the members of the European Union.
And the Prime Minister speaking as Head of the Conservative party has said that he intends to fight the next British election in 2015 on a campaign pledged to hold a referendum on the outcome of that negotiation.
So, I don’t want to leave a misunderstanding that somehow the British Government is now in favor of Britain leaving the European Union, that is absolutely not the case. We want to see a reformed EU, in the interests of all EU Member States.