Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, met with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra, today.
The ministers discussed the future of the EU and pledged to work together, within the framework of the “Leaders’ Agenda” toward affirming a strong, safe and sovereign Europe, that works for its citizens and better protects them. They agreed to give priority to security, migration, the stability and prosperity of the euro zone, the environmental transition, digital affairs and competitiveness. We will therefore, together with our European partners, establish the new 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda. To that end, France will host the third French-Dutch seminar on the European Union in 2018.
The ministers welcomed the significant progress made in the area of European defense, while the EU must, more than ever, assume its responsibilities in the current geopolitical context and in light of the instability in its neighborhood. France and the Netherlands intend to take part in the Permanent Structured Cooperation, due to be launched by the end of the year. The ministers also lent their support to the swift adoption of the European Defense Industrial Development Program.
Thanks to the Netherlands’ participation in the UN Security Council in 2018 as a non-permanent member, the ministers agreed to cooperate closely on issues that are critical to international peace and security, notably the Sahel, a coordinated approach to crises and the fight against terrorism in the context of conflict prevention. The ministers also agreed to draw the Security Council’s attention to the root causes of conflict, the need for accountability and the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations.
With specific regard to the Sahel, France and the Netherlands are determined to continue their commitment to the security and development of this fragile region, through their respective participation in Operation Barkhane and within MINUSMA, and through their support for the G5 Sahel which allows the region to take more responsibility for managing its own security.
The ministers noted their convergence of views on migration, the management of which requires an integrated European approach combining the protection of refugees, the fight against the trafficking of human beings, the fight against illegal immigration and actions on the root causes of immigration such as poverty and insecurity.
While the overseas territories of France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands were hard hit by Hurricane Irma, the ministers reviewed the close cooperation that is continuing on the ground between both countries, with the authorities of Sint Maarten and St. Martin, in order to rebuild the island.
Lastly, the ministers discussed the areas in which bilateral economic cooperation could be strengthened, including innovation, agri-food, sustainable mobility, energy, climate and the circular economy. The ministers reaffirmed the importance they attach to regular meetings between the private sectors, such as the “Strategic commercial dialogue,” and called for the organization of future meetings in order to bring French and Dutch economic actors together.