Home UK Speech: PM’s speech at the UK-France Summit: 18 January 2018

Speech: PM’s speech at the UK-France Summit: 18 January 2018


Prime Minister Theresa May

Président Macron, je suis très heureuse de vous accueillir aujourd’hui pour votre première visite au Royaume-Uni en tant que Président.

President Macron it gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today for your first visit to the UK as President.

There can be no more fitting venue than Sandhurst for these talks. For we are gathered here at one institution to celebrate and strengthen another – the enduring alliance between the UK and France.

Ours is a uniquely close relationship between two of the world’s oldest and greatest democracies.

We meet in the year that marks a century since the end of the First World War, when our troops fought side-by-side in defence of our shared belief in freedom and resistance against aggression.

And we have been clear again today that as global, outward-looking nations we remain committed to defending our people and upholding our values as liberal democracies in the face of any threat, whether at home or abroad. But our relationship has always gone far beyond defence and security.

Hundreds of thousands of British citizens live in France and a similar number of French nationals have made the UK their home.

And today we have agreed ways in which we can build on these ties for the benefit of all our citizens.

While this Summit takes place as the UK prepares to leave the EU, we are and will remain a steadfast partner to our friends and allies.

And a strong and deep relationship between the United Kingdom and France remains in both of our interests.


The President and I agree on the importance of the UK-France relationship, not just to our security but to European security.

We are the only European countries who are permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as members of the G7, G20 and NATO.

And we are Europe’s two foremost military powers.

It is incumbent upon us to demonstrate leadership in meeting the great challenges of our time, and upholding the international rules-based system.

We have agreed that UK-France co-operation remains critical to European defence and that together we will continue to play a full role to improve the security of the continent.

And today we can confirm that the UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force will be ready to deploy up to 10,000 troops quickly and effectively to face any threat by 2020.

The shared interests of the UK and France and indeed Europe itself extend far beyond our immediate borders. Africa’s security and prosperity is vitally important to us all. In recent years the UK and France worked side-by-side to combat the global threat posed by the Ebola epidemic.

And today I can announce that in the same spirit of co-operation we will step-up our efforts in the Sahel to prevent Islamist extremism breeding instability and insecurity, fuelling the migration crisis.

The UK will deploy three UK Chinook helicopters and their crews to the Sahel, and we will continue the support we offer through our heavy lift transport aircraft, increasing the ability of French troops to manoeuvre effectively in their battle against extremists.

During our discussions today the UK and France have also agreed to work together to ensure EU African Peace Facility funding for AMISOM in Somalia, as part of a comprehensive approach on the continent.

Closer to home we will stand together in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Europe, where France has agreed to commit troops to the UK-led NATO battlegroup in Estonia in 2019.

This commitment will build on the successful joint deployment which we visited together last year.


Since the last UK-France Summit we have seen appalling and cowardly terrorist attacks in both our countries, in which British and French citizens have died side-by-side.

There is no circumstance in which we could envisage the vital interests of either the United Kingdom or France being threatened without the other one being affected.

To tackle this shared threat, for the first time in history all of the heads of UK and French intelligence agencies were brought together ahead of this Summit in a single meeting, underlining our unique co-operation in this field. This afternoon they briefed the President and me on the work they do together.

It is clear that this co-operation is preventing loss of life on both sides of the Channel and around the world.
And today we have discussed ways in which we can increase and enhance our collaboration to continue to keep our citizens safe.


The UK and France share a belief in a comprehensive approach to mass migration. And as our efforts in the Sahel and across Africa demonstrate, we will work together to address the instability which fuels it.

President Macron and I have both confirmed that the UK and France remain committed to the principles of the longstanding Le Touquet agreement, under which the UK is able to carry out full border checks on French soil.

And today we have agreed additional measures which will work in the best interests of both France and the UK, increasing the effectiveness of our co-operation.

We will reinforce the security infrastructure with extra CCTV, fencing and infra-red technology at Calais and other border points.

In 2016 more than 56,000 attempts by clandestines to cross the Channel were stopped at the UK’s juxtaposed border controls.

The further investment we have agreed today will make the UK’s borders even more secure.

The UK and France also share a determination to tackle the people traffickers and migrant smugglers who exploit the misery of those making the perilous journey to Europe.

We are committed to working closely together to close down the networks of smugglers who seek to profit from the misery of others.


UK-French economic co-operation is vital to our shared prosperity.

We share £71billion in trade, making France the UK’s third largest trading partner and the UK France’s fifth largest.

And our trade relationship continues to thrive following the vote to leave the EU.

Airbus, a company whose supply chain and ownership spans Europe, have today announced a multi-billion pound deal to provide Emirates Airlines with 36 A380 passenger aircraft, parts of which will be built in both the UK and France, providing a boost to both our economies.

And just down the road from here in Farnborough UK and French engineers at the company are working side-by-side on the cutting edge Zephyr high-altitude surveillance drone.

This collaboration on innovation runs through our relationship, and today we have agreed to strengthen the global competitiveness of our world-class researchers and innovators, deepening co-operation between our research agencies.


But the UK-France relationship is about far more than a balance sheet.

Both President Macron and I believe that everyone in society deserves the same opportunities regardless of where they come from.

And we will use our relationship to make this happen, supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop their employability and language skills.

We will create a new fund for exchanges between our schools and revitalising the Entente Cordiale programme with new financing, so that our students can study across the Channel.

Our shared history will also be reflected in the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK in 2022, the first time it will be on British soil in more than 900 years.

The loan of the Tapestry will form part of a wider cultural exchange taking place between Britain and France over the next four years.

I am honoured at the loan of such a precious piece of our shared history which yet again underscores the closeness of our relationship.

We have agreed to build a new generation of links between our people, with an ambitious programme of twinning towns and regions, bringing together mayors, leaders of City Regions and others as they address today’s challenges and harness the potential of emerging technologies.

The UK and France are forever neighbours, united in friendship, and by our common belief in freedom and justice, both at home and in the world.

President Emmanuel Macron

Thank you very much Madame Prime Minister. Thank you Theresa for welcoming us.

Ladies and gentlemen I would like to thank the PM for welcoming us here in this magnificent Royal Academy of Sandhurst for this 35th Franco-British Summit. You perfectly reminded us of the historic and deep link which is ours. At the outset of our discussions today I reiterated the two things that nothing can change, be it a vote or a political decision: our history and our geography. These place us together before a common destiny, common geostrategic threats and there is a common destiny which lies there. And it is that which we need to understand today – both the links which exist between the women and men of our two countries, many of whom live and have got used to living on both sides of the Channel, and our shared stories.

You [PM] stated it perfectly: the first axis of this bilateral relationship and what we have to construct together is to continue to have a common reading and commitment in the realm of foreign policy. The foreign and development policy compact was signed today by ministers which enacts the holding of regular meetings and permanent exchanges on the major issues. Be it Iran, Libya or the Sahel, we are both very attached to working closely together and that all of Europe can work together, in particular on Iran – an issue of considerable concerns to us. This is our wish. And as we have done from the start, we will do so on the one hand by respecting the commitments we made in signing an international agreement because it is the basis of our international credibility; and on the other hand, by reinforcing the collective security in the region via a resolute action to reduce ballistic activities and Iran’s regional influence and also by respecting the framework we gave ourselves.

On Africa and the Sahel we took several major decisions. I’ll come back to the military plan. We have confirmed your [the UK’s] participation in the alliance for the Sahel which we launched in Bamako last July. It is, I think, an important gesture which is coherent with our strategy aiming to have a common action where we lead together on major issues, particularly in Africa, with common development goals in areas like education and particularly education for young women, health and the fight against global warming. I consider this investment, which was agreed today in the alliance for the Sahel, as an important gesture which contributes to this wider dynamic. When you have this shared policy or at least this convergence or shared outlook on foreign policy, this community of views and interests we give ourselves the means to create a strategic and defence community.

This is the sense of our relationship with the Lancaster House agreements which date from 2010 and which are in no way called into question by the British vote and the organisation of Brexit. We forcefully reiterated and we continue to invest content in them via the defence relationship which is unique between our two countries. For me, it is one of the elements of credibility for our joint commitments in numerous theatres of operation and testifies to the excellent operational dynamic between our armies.

You [PM] reminded us we know how to react quickly and with force when we have ascertained a common objective. We had the opportunity to evoke at length our strategic relationship. The main points of our engagement are in the communiqué but I would like to insist on the importance of that relationship.

Our cooperation in our common arms programme is vast and includes future air combat with our cutting-edge technology, combat drones for which we have asked our defence ministers to perfect a work programme from now until Spring, a project to counter submarine threats and the development of the future generation of missiles which make MBDA one of the international leaders in this area.

All these projects have been confirmed and reinforced with an agenda which now renders them completely operational.

Our cooperation in military matters are not just limited to capability development but depends just as much on operational cooperation. The Prime Minister described the UK’s support to the Barkhane mission in the Sahel and I would like to now underline the importance of this commitment to provide Chinook helicopters, the military and support staff. This strong commitment on Barkhane is for us a strong signal of our common view and the will to fight terrorism together in the Sahel-Saharan region. It constitutes a real effort which we wanted.

Last September we were together in Estonia to visit the deployed British and French troops under British command as part of the NATO advanced presence. I have decided to deploy a new French military detachment in 2019 within the British tactical group. This French commitment to NATO will allow us to further deepen the interoperability between our armies and is also the manifestation of our shared will in this geographic region and a country dear to us.

We also discussed European defence which has recently undergone major changes with the launch of the permanent structured cooperation project and the creation of the European defence fund. These proposals will prosper within the EU but I think it is indispensable that the very strong relationship between our two countries can continue to contribute to the development of a European defence structure on the basis of procedures developed with our European partners. But already we have built the framework such that this can happen. In the immediate future we agreed that the Franco-British defence relationship could contribute to the European intervention force initiative which will strengthen the links between the armies of a group of countries which are particularly advanced at the operational level.

We then talked at length about the question of the management of our shared border and in particular the situation in Calais where I was two days ago with several ministers present here today. It’s an issue which you know well, Prime Minister, via your current and previous responsibilities in which you have had to manage it with France. I want to say here today that we saw on the ground two days ago all the difficulties which exist. The history in the region is well known – what was done with the destruction of La Jungle and the shortcomings of the current situation because what the population is experiencing today by the Calais population cannot be considered satisfactory.

That’s why, and I thank you, the Ministers of the Interior signed a new treaty in front of us—the Treaty of Sandhurst—that will allow us to improve the relationship and management of our common border. It’s the first time in 15 years that we sign a common treaty on this subject. This treaty will allow us, as you have reminded us, to improve the technical and operational cooperation of the common border control, to better the work on transit, and on origins, to prevent movements of population. But it will also allow us to be smarter and more efficient in our cooperation in dealing with this common border. It’s a common challenge which we have to meet together. A new important point for this Sandhurst Treaty is the issue of unaccompanied minors. This treaty will allow us to drastically reduce waiting time for all of those who want to cross the Channel from six months to 30 days for adults and from 6 months to 25 days for unaccompanied minors. It’s about our joint capacity to deal with the issue of unaccompanied minors who have family in the UK, and this will be a major element of this treaty: allowing for a more humane but also a more efficient procedure. I think this treaty will allow us to really change things, whilst also providing a response on the subject of so-called vulnerable minors, who are those unaccompanied minors not covered by the Dublin procedure.

For me this is a huge step, it’s what I promised in front of the elected leaders and representatives of all the state institutions and the NGOs, and I think it’s a new form of organising our response that will allow us to have a more human approach and efficient system on this issue. This treaty will also help to preserve the quality of our common border and the economic link which it represents, since you [PM] have reminded us of it its importance. I think on both sides of the border we want to continue to develop economic exchanges, relations between our companies, and we have an existing trade that is very intense. But we need a secure border and we need to put an end to this situation, which has been going on for some years.

Our Ministers of the Interior also agreed on some common projects with common governance that will accompany this situation. I will not list all the common projects we have agreed on here today and that our ministers will have to set up, but they are very varied. They show our deep relationship on nuclear, our research cooperation where we have agreed two important partnerships on space and genomics, our cooperation as economic actors in all sectors, our cooperation on sports and especially in the organisation of major sports events for which a letter of common intention was signed only a few days ago.

The vast array of subjects covered includes lots of different sectors of the economy, both traditional and cutting-edge. Our cooperation on renewable energy and against global warming shows our willingness to commit together on these strategic issues at both a diplomatic level and on a concrete level with business projects. Before you ask me, I want to say something about Brexit, which hasn’t occupied the majority of these discussions, far from it. I respect the choice that the British people made, even though I regret it as everyone knows. I think that we’ve shown here today, and we will continue to show that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, they will be managed in an established and organised framework with one unique European negotiator whose mandate we will discuss with him in March at the next European Council. But those discussions should never make us doubt the intensity and the quality of our bilateral relationship.

Brexit will never stop us from having a very high level of cooperation between our two countries. It can create uncertainty on some subjects in the short term, but I think that our responsibility is to be able to manage this complexity and to be determined to improve the situation on each side of our border.

This summit illustrates our common will to do just that. Because our relationship is based on this history and this geography that I mentioned earlier, it is also based on extremely strong human ties. We will have the occasion to witness this tonight with several personalities who illustrate the diversity and the quality of this bilateral relationship at the V&A in London, with people from the academic, business and sports sectors and young people. This generation exists already. It is a generation that will continue to grow the bilateral relationship.

This relationship is based on this unique history that I was talking about, which resonates particularly in this the year of the centenary of the First World War, that saw so many French and British perish side by side. I have in my own family history, traces of not only the war but also of this Franco-British link from that period. But all this dates back even further, this history of almost a thousand years old, can also be seen in the exchange of the Bayeux Tapestry.

This tapestry is unique, it is a source of pride for France and for Bayeux. There is a lot of work ahead for our ministers, local officials, and all the actors involved in this project. But I wish, as I said in Athens during my Pnyx speech, that we can bring to life this Europe of culture and of cultural heritage because it reminds us all of what precedes us and the responsibilities it entails. And this Bayeux Tapestry invites us to be very humble. Not towards William The Conqueror’s feats, but because of its creative genius and because of the story it tells. There will be a lot of scientific cooperation going on beyond the tapestry as this exchange is subject to very strict conditions that neither of us are part of, but it will be a matter for the experts as the tapestry is extremely fragile. The tapestry has never left French soil in almost 1000 years and it embodies the link between our two countries. I am hoping that the tapestry will open a chapter of reinforced cooperation at cultural and scientific levels. This will allow us to exchange even more artwork as well as allowing our citizens to enjoy this shared history, and also facilitate an on-going intellectual and creative exchange for our contemporary artists and the construction of a borderless imagination based on common stories which keeps them alive.

This is what, ladies and gentlemen, I wanted to say in front of us all in order to remind us of our exchanges today and their implications whilst thanking again the Prime Minister, dear Theresa, for her welcome and our discussions.


Question: PM – Many people will look at the Calais deal and think it looks a lot like you are sending money to France while taking migrants from France. Is this the thin end of the wedge? Mr Macron – After Brexit do you think UK PMs are more or less influential figures on the world stage? And is the loaning of the Bayeux Tapestry a sign you think you can win us back?

PM: No. What we are doing is working with French authorities and providing support to ensure we enhance the security of our border. It is in our national interests, as well as those of the French. But, as you’ve heard, there is a question over unaccompanied minors. We have over time taken a number. We need to ensure for those with family in the UK, that the process is as smooth as possible, and that is what we have agreed, new ways to work together. And also agreed how we can provide support to France to reduce the flow of migrants to Calais and the UK, and that includes working together in Sahel and against human traffickers. So it is in our interests and those of France.

Emmanuel Macron: it isn’t for me to assess the importance of one PM or another. But I know the UK is a permanent member of UN Security Council and that won’t be affected. We have shared interests, as seen in countering terror attacks, and in Middle East and Africa. The choices made today, in particular on Sahel and Iran, show we are working together, with a country that is a neighbour and a friend. We can of course sometimes have different views but we always agree when it comes to these topics which is why we can work together and why I am so determined in remarks on foreign policy and defence to ensure no changes on this because we are stronger together. For a number of centuries we have decided to wage war together and that has been beneficial to both countries. Next generations will enjoy peace between our countries and hopefully around the world. It requires diplomacy and peace building. We will do this together, creating a new tapestry together.

Question: PM May – how many isolated minors or other migrants from France will be admitted to British soil and which time frame? And why accepting this French request? Do you expect any return in terms of Brexit. Mr Macron – in March 2016 you told FT that in case of Brexit, no more migrants in Calais. Why did you change your mind?

PM: As I said before, the UK border in Calais is in UK and French interests. We all want to ensure we don’t see a return to migrant numbers in Calais seen in previous years. French action, together with UK support, has been effective but there are still migrant there. We must work together upstream to reduce numbers coming to Calais and seeking to get through to the UK. We have consistently accepted unaccompanied minors in the UK for some time. We have accepted those without families in the UK and those with families. Today we have agreed that we make that process as smooth as possible. We are working together also to ensure a secure border that will reduce the numbers going to Calais seeking to reach the UK.

Emmanuel Macron: Le Touquet has nothing to do with Brexit. It is a bilateral agreement. I never said the Agreement should be torn up. To those who call for it, I suggest we remember the situation before, which was possibly worse. We have a shared border and must cooperate. Otherwise it would lead to a humanitarian disaster and one that is bad for both sides. I said we needed a major change and couldn’t have the situation in Calais that we had at the time. We are implementing that. I would commend work done in Calais to dismantle the Jungle. A lot of work has been done with Britain to deal with many topics. That said, the topic is not over and we have taken domestic decisions that have been implemented to aid the situation. Decisions made nationally and agreements today provide framework to bring about a concrete answer in coming months, so no more migrants living in Calais.

Question: President Macron – why are you so keen to exclude financial services from future trading agreement? To punish Britain? To take British jobs? Or because you think the UK wants to ‘have its cake and eat it’, as Boris Johnson has said? PM – President Macron and others have said financial services will not be included in a deal. What will you do to change the EU’s mind?

Emmanuel Macron: I am here neither to punish nor reward. I want to make sure the single market is preserved, as that is at heart of the EU. The choice is on the British side but no differentiated access to financial services. You can have access to single market but that means paying into the EU budget and accepting ECJ jurisdiction.

PM: As set out at Lancaster House and Florence speech, we have a desire to negotiate a comprehensive FTA with EU-27 for a deep and special partnership in the future. We recognise we will no longer be full members of the single market. A different relationship in the future. But I believe it is in the interests not just of the UK but also of the EU to continue to have a good economic relationship and partnership with the UK and believe that should cover goods and services. City will continue to be a major global financial centre, which is good for UK and EU. We will enter negotiations looking for a deep and special partnership, comprehensive trade agreement, and also a strong security partnership. Once again, this is in the interests of all of us. We are leaving the EU, not Europe.

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