Prime Minister of the French Republic

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 30 September 1980

First of all, Mr President, I should like to thank you for your invitation, which has brought me the very real pleasure of being with you in Strasbourg today and has also given me a welcome opportunity of meeting you again, since we worked together for four years in Brussels.

Ladies and gentlemen, Strasbourg – that city which for so many years was a strategic prize – has now become a special centre for encounter and discussion. Many innovations have seen the light here. It was here, immediately after the war, that the Council of Europe, the first intergovernmental institution to give a central role to a parliamentary body, was born. In its train, and following the conclusion of the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty of 1951, another parliamentary assembly was established here, which now includes the universally elected representatives of nine European nations.

The special role of Strasbourg, which has become the capital of Europe of the Nine, as it has of Europe of the Twenty-one, is to act as a meeting place. In this connection, the accession of Spain and Portugal to membership of the Council of Europe has strengthened the bond which already existed between Northern and Mediterranean Europe.

The Council of Europe upholds a political ideal, an ideal to which France is profoundly committed. In fact, membership of the Council of Europe constitutes an act of faith in democracy.

Finally, thanks to the flexibility of its procedures, the Council of Europe opens its doors to the world beyond Europe, welcoming a wide range of distinguished visitors. In recent years, you have received Mr Léopold Senghor, Mr Gaston Thorn, Mr Mario Soares, Mr Helmut Schmidt and Mr Francisco Sa Carneiro.

I welcome the presence, this morning, of Mr Huang Hua, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

Your Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, is regional in its composition, but the attention which you pay to other continents gives it a unique and special place among the world’s political forums. This, too, confirms Strasbourg’s status as a centre for meetings and dialogue.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, my presence here today bears witness to the interest which my country takes in the work which you have done in the past, but also, and above all, in that which you have still to do. It is the French Government’s wish that your dynamism and innovative spirit may prove a source of both encouragement and inspiration to the governments of Council of Europe member states.

In this troubled and uncertain epoch, all those who exercise responsibility must be able to look to the fundamental values of our civilisation and our free societies and, as you do here, think things out and make proposals. The difficulties which are currently affecting the world are universal. They affect the relations of citizens and government, they shake international détente and, finally, they upset all exchange and particularly internal and international economic exchange. They, therefore, stand as a direct challenge to the institutions which command our loyalty because they are the cornerstones of our free, self-governing societies: our social institutions, our local authorities and our firms.

If it cannot provide direct solutions, the Council of Europe can at least help us to define these grave problems more accurately. Your institution upholds a political ideal. It has intensified and encouraged effective co-operation among the twenty-one member states and it can play an active role in solving the major economic problems to which world change exposes Europe.

The Council of Europe upholds a political ideal, an ideal to which France is profoundly committed. In fact, membership of the Council of Europe constitutes an act of faith in democracy.

The first article of your Statute affirms that “the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals which are their common heritage...”

These “ideals” or, in the words of the preamble to your Statute, these “spiritual and moral values” are individual liberty, political freedom and the rule of law.

It is thus to the practical defence of democracy that you dedicate yourselves. Moreover, of the more than a hundred international conventions which you have now concluded, the one which reflects the most honour on your organisation is the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950.

There can be no genuine democracy without practical protection of the citizen and you have established procedures and institutions to ensure that the freedoms proclaimed in the text are respected in practice.

The existence of this collective system for the defence of political democracy and of these accessible and practical instruments for the protection of human rights should reassure and convince all those who doubt that any acceptable solution can be found to the problem of relations between the citizen and the state.

The Council of Europe encourages the growth of peaceful relations between the nations – and you know, ladies and gentlemen, how dedicated my own country is to the cause of peace, progress and co-operation in the world.

Numerous endeavours have been made along these lines. Your Committee of Ministers and Consultative Assembly have taken initiatives, in the form of declarations, suggestions and proposals, for the harmonious development of relations between countries – between member states and between member states and non-member states of the Council – in the fields of foreign, economic, social and cultural policy.

Within the Twenty-one, the many conventions concluded by the Council seek to facilitate the movement of persons, to harmonise national legislative systems and to provide maximum protection for all the citizens of Europe. This patient, painstaking endeavour is working towards the establishment of a “European administrative and legal area”, in which differences no longer act as barriers.

The work which the Council of Europe has done in bringing its European member states closer together makes it particularly well-equipped to deal with the problems involved in preparation of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The recommendations which your Assembly sent to the Helsinki negotiators reflect your determination to go to the heart of things. In 1973, you called for increased freedom of movement for persons, ideas and information across the frontiers of Europe. More recently, you have emphasised practical difficulties complaining of the failure to achieve substantial progress in respect of contacts between persons, recognition of the right to emigrate and the narrow, repressive control of information exercised by the governments of several Eastern countries.

In this area your realistic view of security and co-operation between the countries of the East and the West represents the only lucid and effective approach. Détente, ladies and gentlemen, has been seriously affected by the military occupation of Afghanistan, and the resulting international situation weighs, and will continue to weigh, on the Madrid meeting.

Nonetheless, the thirty-five delegations present in Madrid must beware of indulging in a fruitless confrontation of ideologies or of political and social systems. Nor must they let themselves be blinded by the facts nor content themselves with mere appearances. As far as my own country is concerned, I can tell you that these will be her twin concerns in Madrid.

This path is a narrow one, but it is the only one which can now lead to a serious reaffirmation of the principles and spirit of détente and to its restoration in practice. Like you, we distrust declarations of principle which are not followed by appropriate action. For France, détente must be a visible reality and it must, of course, be indivisible.

To finish with the conference on collective security in Europe, I applaud the Committee of Ministers’ decision to hold its second annual meeting in October, rather than November, since this will provide a useful opportunity for a last exchange of views before Madrid.

Finally, the Council of Europe can help us to cope with those changes on the world scene to which my government is trying to adjust France. Thanks to the favourable international climate, Western Europe has achieved a brilliant economic performance in the last three decades. In 1950, the collective gross national product for the European member states of OECD stood at half the figure for the United States; it is now 30% higher than the US figure.

In the last decade, however, the international economic situation has undergone a profound change. The price of a barrel of oil has increased eighteen times, inflation has become general, balances of payments have suffered structural disturbances, economic growth has slowed down and unemployment has everywhere increased. Europe, which is heavily dependent on outside sources for its energy and raw materials and on the world market as an outlet, must transform whole sections of its economic apparatus.

The path which we must follow is dictated by the constraints which weigh upon us. First of all, Europe must cut down on its dependence on oil. France, for her part, has set herself the task of reducing her reliance on oil to one-third of her energy requirements by 1990. This represents a new energy strategy, a strategy to which all Europeans must adapt without flinching. It includes necessarily energy saving, the development of nuclear power, of coal and gas reserves and the discovery and exploitation of entirely new energy sources. In this sphere, hesitation or delay by any European country not only jeopardises its own future, but also affects the future of its partners.

Secondly, Europe must preserve her outside markets by trying to maintain free trade, as the OECD countries pointed out in their joint declaration last June. The successful conclusion of the multilateral trade negotiations a year ago marked a step in this direction. At the same time, if this opening-up of markets is to be permanent and effective, it must not be disturbed by sudden changes, which throw whole sectors of industry into chaos and create employment problems which are socially and politically intolerable.

We must thus take, at international level, the action required to secure a steady growth in trade – this is the only way of preserving free trade in the long term.

Europe’s third priority must be the attempt to stabilise monetary and financial relations, not only within Europe but throughout the world economy. We are paying a high price, ladies and gentlemen, for the inflationary wave of the last fifteen years and for the disturbance of the international monetary system which has led to its collapse and to general monetary instability. Greater discipline is needed in the industrial countries: internally, by seeking to slow down the rise in production costs, wages and prices; and internationally, by constantly trying to achieve greater monetary stability. The establishment of the European monetary system has marked a turning point here enabling the countries which have joined to establish an area of monetary stability whose influence extends even to countries outside.

This system is restricted to the Community, but I hope that the European countries which cannot join will nonetheless try to ensure that their currencies develop parallel to those within the system. In this way, the whole of Western Europe can become an oasis of monetary stability in the world.

Finally, and I see this as a fundamental aim, economic co-operation within Europe and outside must concentrate to a far greater extent on the fight against poverty. Unfortunately it is probable that for most of the inhabitants of several continents the major problem of the 1980s will be hunger and the halt called to growth by the massive increase in their oil bills. In spite of the problems which face our own countries, we must assist the world’s poorest nations. In doing so, we shall be working both for justice and for peace.

All the developments to which I have referred are bound to have major repercussions on the economic and social structures of our countries. The Council of Europe which, under its Statute, has the task not only of safeguarding and realising the ideals which are its members’ common heritage but also of facilitating their economic and social progress, has a part to play in the great task of adapting the economies of European countries to match the new realities of the world economy.

The Council of Europe can compare its members’ experiences, assess their human and social consequences and highlight the most promising projects. It can also call on other parts of the world for aid. In short, through its own work and research, it can help to create a climate of experiment, emulation and innovation. Through its recommendations and opinions, it can help to ensure that member states do not overlook the interests of other member states or non-member states at a time when international interdependence is increasing steadily, creating a need for international co-operation.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in accepting your invitation to Strasbourg, a French and a European city, I knew that I was undertaking an important journey. Reviewing the work done by the Council of Europe, I was able to appreciate the full extent of the progress made since the immediate post-war era on the path to the practical, and still more the moral, unification of Europe.

In speaking of the economic difficulties which our countries are currently facing, I have highlighted the problem of mutual support which we shall have to display among ourselves.

Allow me, in conclusion, on behalf of the French Government, to pay tribute to your work and to express the hope that it may continue to serve as a fruitful example to Europe and the world. (Applause)

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Sir, we have greatly appreciated your speech, which bears witness to the interest which you take in the Council of Europe’s activities. It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on our future, which will be largely determined by our geographical location. I also thank you for agreeing to answer the numerous questions tabled by the members of this Assembly.

You will remember that the Assembly instructed me at its first sitting, to decide on the order of questions. In doing so, I have tried to concentrate on matters of interest primarily to the Council of Europe as a whole, rather than on questions relating to the EEC or to bilateral individual issues.

It is nonetheless clear that, in so doing, I have run the risk of failing to satisfy some, perhaps most, of our colleagues – which was inevitable, in view of the limited time available.

Thirty questions have been tabled in writing. They have been grouped under eighteen headings, for each of which the procedure will be as follows:

I shall start by asking Mr Barre to answer each group of questions. Colleagues who have put questions on this subject will then have a maximum of one minute for supplementary questions.

I would now ask you, sir, to answer the first group of questions, dealing with the impact of the Iraq-Iran conflict on Western countries’ relations with the belligerents, on oil supplies and on the need for co-operation in the energy field.

These questions Nos. 1, 20, 23, 25, 28 have been tabled by MM. Hanin, Jessel, Kershaw, Aano and Papaefstratiou. These questions are as follows:

“Question No. 1:

Mr Hanin,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic:

a. how he views the repercussions on Europe of the conflict between Iraq and Iran, what, in his view, will be the effects of that conflict on oil supplies and therefore on energy policy, and, in particular, whether he thinks more concerted action and greater co-operation between European countries in the fields of both nuclear energy and alternative sources of energy are necessary;

b. what measures he thinks need to be taken and what mechanism envisaged in order to agree on and implement a European programme of co-operation.

Question No. 20:

Mr Jessel,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether, in the light of the war between Iraq and Iran in recent days, the French Government intends to continue to authorise the supply to Iraq of materials from which nuclear weapons could be made.

Question No. 23:

Mr Kershaw,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic what arrangements are in effect to ensure the best consultation and co-operation between the Western allies concerning, in particular, the Middle East and the conflict between Iraq and Iran.

Question No. 25:

Mr Aano,

Considering the imminent danger to regional and even global peace entailed by the introduction of nuclear arms into the Middle East and in the light of the unreliability and lack of restraint in that area shown by the recent eruption of hostilities between Iraq and Iran, and in view of the limited power vested in the International Agency for Nuclear Energy for preventing the production of nuclear arms,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic if the French Government will reconsider its agreements with Iraq for the supply of a nuclear power station and enriched uranium which provides the potential for producing nuclear arms.

Question No. 28:

Mr Papaefstratiou,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether he considers that a meeting between the oil-producing and oil-consuming countries to try and find a solution to the problem of determining the price of oil is possible in the immediate future, since it is obvious that this problem represents a threat to the economies of the countries concerned and, in addition, leads to an increase in the rate of inflation.”

Mr Barre has the floor.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr Hanin has asked for my views on the repercussions of the Iran-Iraq conflict on energy supplies and energy policies in the countries of Western Europe.

First of all, I should like to remind you briefly of Iraq’s status as an oil-producer and as Europe’s second supplier, producing 175 million tonnes a year. In Western Europe, France which imported 24.5 million tonnes, or approximately 25% of her total imports, from Iraq in 1979, is the most affected. Italy imported 22 million tonnes, or nearly 20% of her total oil supplies. The Federal Republic of Germany imported 2.5 million tonnes.

By contrast with Iraq, Iran plays a minimal role, since her exports amount to 500 000 barrels a day, or 25 million tonnes a year, to the developing and socialist countries.

The cessation of exports from Iran and Iraq represents a major shortage on the world market. Nonetheless, crude oil from Iraq can be exported via the Mediterranean: approximately 1 million to 1.5 million barrels a day, or 50 to 70 million tonnes a year.

I would point out, moreover, that there is currently a surplus of some 2 or 3 million barrels a day on the world market, and that our countries possess major reserves, more than 100 000 days.

Assuming that it remains limited in time and space, the conflict thus poses no immediate threat to oil supplies in Western Europe. Nonetheless, freedom of movement must be guaranteed for shipping in the straits of Hormuz. The present conflict underlines the precarious nature of Western oil supplies and thus the soundness of that policy for energy saving and the development of new energy sources of which I spoke a few minutes ago.

I would particularly ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to bear in mind France’s nuclear programme, which will supply nearly 25% of the country’s electricity requirements by the end of 1980. I would ask you to consider this programme in the light of what I have just said.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Barre. I call Mr Hanin, for one minute.

Mr HANIN (Belgium) (translation)

Mr President, I shall not use this minute. I am satisfied with Mr Barre’s reply, which has given me the information which I asked for. Mr Barre did not answer the second part of my question, on initiatives which France might take in this conflict, but the action which the French Government has taken is in itself a satisfactory and sufficient answer.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to the second group of questions Nos. 2, 21 and 22, tabled by MM. Kershaw, Munoz Peirats and Bacelar on France’s attitude to enlargement of the EEC. I will now read these:

“Question No. 2:

Mr Kershaw,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic if he will define the attitude of France towards the enlargement of the EEC.

Question No. 21:

Mr Munoz Peirats,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic to define the French Government’s position on the subject of Spain’s accession to the European Community and, in particular, to state whether it intends to keep to the timetable according to which the negotiations and ratification procedures were to be completed in 1983.

Question No. 22:

Mr Bacelar,

Recalling that Portugal has applied to join the EEC, that the admission process is now taking its course and is scheduled for completion by 1983, but that there have recently been rumours about a postponement because of the attitude of the French Government,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic what is the present state of the question; whether France considers that the Portuguese application to accede, which was made first, and the Spanish request form a single brief and should be treated together, and that they require decisions to be made simultaneously, or whether, on the contrary, he is prepared to give separate consideration to the Portuguese application, since the two applications raise quite different problems.”

The Prime Minister has the floor.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

France has clearly shown that she favours enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal. As long ago as 1977, the President of the Republic and the French Government expressed their views clearly on this subject. Negotiations have been opened, which must take account of the obvious differences in the situation of the two countries, and particularly of differences in their development levels.

Last June, the French Government expressed the view that these negotiations could not be successfully completed until two problems had been solved: the problem of the Community’s agricultural policy and the problem of Community finance, in other words, the problem of the Community’s own resources, which you and I, Mr President, remember with particular clarity.

This is a common-sense observation and is in no way intended to mark a change in the French Government’s policy on this matter. It simply serves as a reminder that, when temporary agreement was reached on the British contribution to the EEC in Luxembourg last May, it was agreed that both the common agricultural policy and the financial contributions paid by member states would require careful study.

Ladies and gentlemen, how can we negotiate with two non-Community countries if we ourselves have not decided on what terms to receive them in two such fundamental areas of Community life as agriculture and finance?

We know, for example, that Spain’s accession would lead to a major increase in the Community’s agricultural expenditure. How are we to finance this agricultural expenditure? This is the point which I made to the Spanish Prime Minister, when I visited Madrid, and this is the point which the French Government made to the Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr Sa Carneiro, when he recently came to Paris.

We are by no means hostile to enlargement. Still less are we hostile to Spain and Portugal – our attitude simply reflects our desire to do things properly, where the Community is concerned.

Mr KERSHAW (United Kingdom)

Does not the Prime Minister consider that any delay in the enlargement of the Community will be a grave disappointment to the countries concerned and may result in anti-Community sentiment in those countries?

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

I am not convinced that our desire to do things properly will give rise to anti-Community feeling in these countries, though it may be used as a pretext to promote anti-Community feeling. Obviously, however, it is not in their interest to enter the Community without knowing what this involves.

We feel that countries joining the Community and accepting its principles, rules and obligations should be fully aware of what they are doing, so that later they will not be obliged to pass on burdens which they cannot support.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We shall now consider the third group of questions, concerning the fight against terrorism and the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes.

These questions Nos. 3, 24, 27 and 29, which will be answered together, have been tabled by MM. Calatayud, Stoffelen, Calamandrei and Toker.

“Question No. 3:

Mr Calatayud,

Considering the upsurge in terrorism, which is becoming more and more indiscriminate and senseless;

Considering that, given the evidence of links existing between the terrorists operating in different European countries, there is a clear need for the countries of Europe to intensify their co-operation in the fight against the common enemy, which implies, among other things, the creation of a ‘European legal area’;

Recalling the efforts made in this field by the Council of Europe, within which the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism of 27 December 1977 was prepared, and whose Assembly has called a conference on tasks and problems in the defence of democracy against terrorism in Europe, to be held in Strasbourg next November,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic what is France’s attitude on this subject.

Question No. 24:

Mr Stoffelen,

Considering that the Council of Europe in 1974 concluded a European Convention on the Non-applicability of Statutory Limitation to Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes;

Considering that France was the first Council of Europe member state to sign that convention and that France was followed by the Netherlands in 1979;

Considering that the Netherlands will now soon complete its ratification procedure;

Referring to Recommendation 855 (1979) of the Assembly,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether France will now soon ratify the European Convention on the Non-applicability of Statutory Limitation to Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes.

Question No. 27:

Mr Calamandrei,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether he considers that the responsible French authorities have given, and are giving, the other member states most directly affected by terrorism the necessary and greatest possible assistance in combating and eliminating terrorist organisations.

Question No. 29:

Mr Toker,

Noting that in recent years France has become a centre for terrorist operations against Turkish diplomats, that none of the terrorists has been apprehended or even identified yet, that no action has been taken against the terrorist organisation which has openly claimed responsibility for these acts, and that, clearly encouraged by this situation, terrorism against Turkish diplomats, beginning with the attack which cost the life of the Turkish Ambassador in Paris, has taken on disturbing proportions and is occurring with alarming regularity;

Considering the importance which the Council of Europe attaches to the fight against international terrorism,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic what measures the French Government plans taking to prevent these acts and prosecute those responsible.”

I call Mr Barre to answer this group of questions.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, the first question put to me concerns terrorism.

Terrorism is currently a threat to all democratic nations, which must thus take the necessary action to combat it effectively.

It was for this purpose that the Council of Europe prepared the convention of 27 January 1977, a convention signed by France on the very day of its adoption.

France feels that the action taken against terrorism should be energetic, but should also respect human rights, and particularly the right of asylum.

This is what we said at the time when we declared our special interest in the work being done in this field.

At the moment we are waiting to see how work progresses in the European legal area.

As for the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes, this question is covered by Recommendation 855 on the statutory limitation of war crimes and crimes against humanity adopted by the Council of Europe on 2 February.

The Committee of Ministers sent this recommendation to the European Committee on Crime Problems for an opinion. In its opinion, the European Committee noted that Council of Europe member states were divided on the prospects for signature and ratification of the European convention of 25 January 1974. It also noted that the procedures laid down in the various European conventions on co-operation in criminal matters provided an appropriate and sufficient framework for the co-operation and improvements advocated by the Assembly.

In the light of this opinion, the Committee of Ministers – which, of course, represents all the member states of the Council of Europe – did not think it necessary to recommend the adoption of special measures at European level.

When Recommendation 855 was discussed by the Committee of Ministers, the French Government referred to the European convention of 25 January 1974 and recalled the special interest which it had always shown in the punishment of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Thus France adopted, on 26 December 1964, an Act on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to crimes against humanity, and concluded, on 2 February 1971, an agreement on judicial competence in the punishment of war crimes with the Federal Republic of Germany, and was the first country to sign the European convention of 25 January 1974 on the non-applicability of statutory limitation to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

These are the points which I wished to make in replying to the questions put on these two issues.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Barre. I call Mr Calatayud to put a supplementary question.


(spoke in Spanish; as no translation of the speech in one of the official languages or additional working languages has been supplied to the Secretariat by the speaker, the speech is not published here, under the terms of Rules 18 and 22 of the Rules of Procedure).

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Calatayud’s question concerns the French Government’s attitude to the attack perpetrated on Jews in Paris.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, the French Government has adopted a wholly unequivocal attitude to the racist incidents in Paris and is resolutely determined to pursue any organisations which engage in reprehensible actions of this kind against the Jewish community in France.

I would remind you that a few days ago it banned an organisation which had set out to revive the theories and practices of Nazism in France.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Barre.

This brings us to Question No. 4, tabled by Mr Pignion, which concerns the non-ratification by France of Article 25 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The question reads as follows:

“Mr Pignion,

Recalling that many questions have already been asked of the French Government by members of the French National Assembly concerning the non-ratification by France of Article 25 of the European Convention on Human Rights;

Challenging, firstly, the argument that more time is needed to examine the consequences of such ratification upon French domestic law; since it would appear that seven years are ample, and, secondly, the statement that no disadvantage was suffered by French citizens who can rely in their defence on the treaties ratified by France, for this is not always true since some courts accord precedence to ordinary laws enacted subsequent to certain treaties;

Observing, on the contrary, that the ratification of Article 25 could in no wise be disadvantageous to French citizens but rather could be beneficial,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether he would support, with the same degree of conviction as he did the setting up of a European legal area, the enlarging of the scope of freedom in Europe, and particularly in France, by the ratification of Article 25.”

I call Mr Barre to answer this question.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, I should like, first of all, to remind you that our constitutional and judicial structures are so organised that individual petition already functions fully in French law. In fact, under Article 55 of the Constitution, treaties – including the European Convention on Human Rights – take precedence over national legislation and are applied directly by our courts. Persons involved in legal proceedings are thus entitled to cite the convention before administrative and other courts, which have in fact applied the provisions of the convention on various occasions in recent years.

This means that individuals always have an effective legal remedy and are not obliged to follow the procedure provided for in Article 25 of the convention. As a result, the problem in question, particularly under the present Constitution, has never been as urgent as has on occasion been suggested.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

I call Mr Pignion for a brief supplementary question.

Mr PIGNION (France) (translation)

Mr President, I cannot say that Mr Barre’s reply has wholly satisfied me, but the European legal area was referred to a few minutes ago, and I preferred, as a French parliamentarian, to put this question, rather than to have it raised by one of our colleagues. Since this is a matter which comes up occasionally in committee and elsewhere, I think that it might also be raised again at national level.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We shall now consider the fifth group of questions, concerning France’s policy on Portuguese and Turkish immigrants. These questions Nos. 5 and 26, which have been tabled by MM. Bacelar and Üstünel, will be answered together. I will now read them:

“Question No. 5:

Mr Bacelar,

Recalling that there are over a million Portuguese migrant workers in France, the majority of whom have long been settled there and have made a considerable contribution to the French economy;

Noting that the French economy has for some years been experiencing difficulties, particularly in the employment and inflation fields, that certain recently enacted laws raise fears that the possibility for this sizeable part of the Portuguese population to continue to reside in France may be jeopardised, and that, if these people were to be sent back, Portugal would be faced with an insurmountable problem,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether fears on this score are justified and whether he can give assurances in the context of Franco-Portuguese relations, which are particularly good and friendly.

Question No. 26:

Mr Üstünel,

In view of the recent abrupt decision of the French Government to impose a visa on Turkish nationals as of 5 October 1980, in violation of at least the spirit of the agreements which are the raison d’être of the Council of Europe, and with hardly any prior notice,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether the intention of his government is to isolate from Europe and push further into a dangerous situation, with a recent example in the Middle East, a country which has been part of Western alliances for over thirty years, causing wide public resentment against the West and further complicating the already difficult task of the present authorities that are seeking Western solidarity in order to re-establish a working democracy based on the principles of freedom and human rights, and also for how long his government envisages to apply this visa and if they are planning to apply the same restrictions to citizens of other member states, like Spain and Portugal, which send workers to France.”

I call Mr Barre to answer this group of questions.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, with regard to Portuguese emigrants, we have in France a very large Portuguese colony, enjoying all the rights of French citizens, to which we have extended a warm welcome and which has frequently integrated very rapidly in France. At no stage have we considered taking action against immigration from Portugal.

It is true that France has revised her immigration policy. Why? Because we are no longer in that period of economic growth and full employment which lasted two decades and which saw the arrival of more than two million foreign workers in France. I would, however, remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that France, while calling a halt to immigration, has never sought to expel those foreign workers who came to France earlier and contributed to her development. Nor does she intend to do so in the future, since she owes a debt of gratitude to those who have helped to build her prosperity. We do not look on foreign workers in France as slaves, to be taken in and thrown out, as the economic situation dictates.

France may have adopted new regulations on immigration from Portugal, but I would remind you that, on 27 September 1979, the President of the Republic wrote to the President of the Republic of Portugal in the following terms:

“I hereby confirm, Sir, that in view of Portugal’s application for membership of the European Economic Community, it has been decided that the residence and work permits of Portuguese residents in France will in the future continue to be renewed on the same liberal conditions as in the past, in other words, that the new regulations on aliens will not, in fact, be applied to them.
I take this opportunity of paying tribute to the high quality of the work done by the Portuguese who live in France and of assuring you that their attitude and qualities have earned them the respect and affection of the French people.”

As for migrant workers from Turkey, the French Government has decided to reintroduce visas for Turkish nationals.

I would remind you that the French Government notified the Government of Turkey that it was provisionally suspending the letters exchanged and signed in Ankara on 29 June 1954 concerning the movement of persons with effect from 5 October.

In accordance with Article 7 of the European Agreement of 13 December 1957, on regulations governing the movement of persons, it also notified the Council of Europe Secretariat that it found itself obliged to suspend the provisions of Article 1, paragraphs 1 and 2, of this agreement in respect of Turkey, the effect of this measure being the reintroduction of compulsory visas for Turkish nationals paying brief visits to France.

The French Government found itself obliged to take this action at a time when some of her European partners had already reintroduced compulsory visas. Its decision was dictated chiefly by considerations of public order.

The French Government intended, firstly, to prevent clandestine workers unable to find work in neighbouring countries from coming to work illegally in France, since – as I have just reminded you – immigration from abroad has been suspended since 1974. Secondly, it intended, at a time of political upheaval, to prevent the entry into France of unsupervised elements likely to commit acts of terrorism – the last such crime being the attack on the Turkish Embassy’s press attaché in Paris – or to provoke demonstrations of the kind staged before the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last week.


Thank you. I call Mr Bacelar.

Mr BACELAR (Portugal) (translation)

My purpose in asking for the floor is to thank Mr Barre for the clarity of his reply. I am sure that all Portuguese will be grateful to Mr Barre for this answer and for his clear, equitable and high-minded declaration. I expected nothing less. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Bacelar. We should now consider the sixth group of questions, concerning the dissemination of French language and culture in the world. These questions Nos. 6 and 19, which will be answered together, have been tabled by MM. Fosson and Brasseur. I will now read them:

“Question No. 6:

Mr Fosson,

Considering that the French language has long been established in the Val d’Aosta, which belonged to the Franco-Burgundian political and cultural sphere, that the inhabitants of the region, who have always fought to defend their right to the French language, had a special autonomous status approved by the Constituent Assembly of the Italian Republic in 1948, under which, among other things, the two languages, French and Italian, were given equal status and the compulsory teaching of French was reintroduced in schools of all types and levels in the region;

Considering that there is no university in the Val d’Aosta and that, in the absence of recognition of the degrees awarded by French-speaking universities, the young inhabitants of the region are obliged to attend Italian universities only, a problem which has repercussions on the job opportunities for persons with a bilingual education;

Hoping that the European Community will be able to find a solution to this problem, which concerns all the member states as well as several other linguistic minorities,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether it would not be possible to overcome these difficulties by way of an agreement between the French and Italian Governments which, like the agreement signed some years ago between the Italian and Austrian Governments on the students of the autonomous Province of Bolzano (Alto Adige), would be limited to the students of the Val d’Aosta.

Question No. 19:

Mr Brasseur,

Recalling that the multiplicity of cultures is part of Europe’s rich heritage, and that France has traditionally given great importance to the diffusion of the French language and French culture in the world,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic what are the main aspects of the French Government’s policy to defend French in the French-speaking countries and regions of Europe, America, Africa, and even Asia.”

I call Mr Barre to answer this group of questions.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, France attaches special importance to her relations with countries which share with her the use of the French language. She endeavours both to strengthen her natural ties with French-speaking countries and to take the necessary action to protect and promote the use of French.

I shall say nothing of the action taken at national level, and particularly by the Ministry for Co-operation, which provides considerable assistance with the teaching of French in twenty-two countries, most of them in Africa. I should simply like to remind you that in Europe France attempts to develop linguistic exchanges and co-operation with French-speaking countries or regions, like Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, with which she exchanges books and radio and television programmes.

With particular reference to the French community in Belgium, I would remind you that an equal representation Franco-Belgian parliamentary body exists for the purpose of promoting initiatives and making proposals.

In North America, France has been making a considerable effort to meet the special needs of Quebec for the past fifteen years and in this area, the France-Quebecois Youth Office plays a vital role. The establishment of a television channel in Quebec is one of the results of this campaign. Nor has France neglected the other French-speaking minorities in Canada and the United States, such as the Acadians and those in Louisiana, Africa, as I have just reminded you, is the continent where France’s language activities are most intense.

Finally, the French Government maintains contact with the countries of Asia, such as Vietnam, in which French was widely used in the past and tries to supply help when asked.

Finally, I should like to mention a country which we hold dear – the Lebanon, where we still make special efforts for the teaching and dissemination of French. I should like to take this opportunity of saying how deeply France wishes to see peace restored and national integrity and independence safeguarded in that country with which we are linked by so many centuries of history. (Applause)

Apart from these bilateral initiatives, I would like to remind you of France’s involvement in intergovernmental institutions, such as the Interparliamentary Agency for Cultural and Technical Co-operation and the International Association of French Language Parliamentarians; in university institutions, such as the Association of French-speaking or partly French-speaking Universities, and, in the Institute of French Law and Language and the International Union of French Language Journalists. Very recently, too, the Minister of Justice, Mr Peyrefitte, took the initiative in bringing together the Ministers of Justice of twenty-seven French-speaking countries in Paris.

To conclude on this point, I should like to say, ladies and gentlemen, that our French language policy is not directed against other languages. We believe, however, that the French language has played, is playing and may continue to play an essential role in the promotion of culture and dialogue between nations.

Mr BRASSEUR (Belgium) (translation)

I thank Mr Barre for his reply, which I consider very satisfactory.

To avoid prolonging the discussion, I shall simply express the hope that France, like other French-speaking countries, may make an effort to secure equivalence of diplomas, and particularly university degrees.

In this connection, I venture to remind you of the questions specifically put by Senator Fosson – who has unfortunately had to leave us – on the equivalence in France of qualifications obtained by residents of the Val d’Aosta.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

As an academic, I am myself very much aware of the problem raised by Mr Brasseur, which is receiving our attention.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to the last group of questions which we will consider today, concerning France’s attitude to the problems of transfrontier pollution. These questions Nos. 7 and 30 are tabled by MM. Vohrer and Konings. I will now read them:

“Question No. 7:

Mr Vohrer,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic to what extent the French Government is prepared to collaborate with its European partners in finding joint solutions in the field of transfrontier pollution.

Question No. 30:

Mr Konings,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic when France proposes putting an end to its discharges of chlorides into Europe’s River Rhine.”

I call Mr Barre.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

I believe that the attention paid to environmental problems and the action taken to protect the environment and control pollution will remain the distinctive feature of our epoch.

You have raised the important problems: pollution of the Rhine and pollution of the Mediterranean.

With regard to the Rhine, France signed an agreement with the other riparian states in 1976, in which she undertook with the financial backing of her partners to reduce chloride pollution of the river, by injecting some of the chloride residues produced by the Alsatian potash mines into the sub-soil of Alsace.

Fear that this scheme would contaminate the water-table led to widespread and violent opposition in Alsace, with the result that the French Parliament was unable to ratify the agreement, and the French Government accordingly withdrew the bill authorising ratification, so that discussion and negotiation could resume with our partners.

However, I should like to reaffirm the French Government’s commitment to the general aims adopted by the Rhine riparian states. The International Commission for Protection of the Rhine against Pollution is currently working for a reduction of salt dumping in the river. I have myself discussed this question with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. France has suggested the construction of an international salt producing plant in Alsace. Our partners felt that other technical projects should be launched alongside this scheme. All of these factors are currently being considered by the International Commission. At a later stage, they will be laid before the Ministers for the Environment, who are to meet in 1981 for the purpose of defining new objectives and working out ways of achieving them. I think that it will be possible to arrive at technical solutions which are generally acceptable.

As for the Mediterranean, the French Government is taking action both at national and international level. On her own territory, France intends to eliminate the dumping of waste from land-based sources by constructing purifying plants in the last three major cities which have so far lacked them – Marseilles, Toulon and Nice.

The extent of the effort made in France allows us to play an important part at multilateral level, particularly in connection with the action plan for the Mediterranean drawn up in 1975 as part of the United Nations Environment Programme.

France’s share in this action plan is, first and foremost, a financial one. She contributes half of the riparian states’ share, in other words, a quarter of the organisation’s total budget of 750 000 dollars per annum. The delegations, in which French experts play a very active part, are studying the various areas covered by the plan, including the scientific aspects and the surveillance of the marine environment. Our laboratories are trying to co-ordinate their endeavours with those of their Spanish and Italian counterparts.

In the field of human and economic research, France has launched the “blue plan” for economic development methods compatible with protection of the environment, which is concerned in particular with renewable energy sources and aquaculture.

Finally, in the field of international agreements, France played an active part in negotiating the Barcelona Convention of 1976 and its protocols, which establish legal standards governing the fight against all forms of pollution caused by human activity.

France is to deposit her instruments of ratification of this convention in the very near future.

This, Mr President, is the information which I can give the members of the Assembly on these two important points.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Barre. I call Mr Vohrer.

Mr VOHRER (Federal Republic of Germany) (translation)

I am very grateful for the reply so far, but would like to make my question to the Prime Minister of the French Republic more specific. The development of friendship between Germany and France has been very encouraging for nearly three decades. Against this background I would like to ask him – as a politician from the Baden Upper Rhine area – whether the French Government is aware of the fact that there are transfrontier environmental problems, particularly in the vicinity of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which are straining German-French friendship. I should also like to know how far the French Government is prepared to go in agreements which take account of the total ecological load on the Rhine valley – by this I mean air, water and the coordination of nuclear power plant locations – and to co-operate in them. Does the Prime Minister think the French Government would – pending the distant goal of a European law, on the environment – be prepared to help to ensure that in matters of transfrontier environmental problems the more stringent of the national laws should be applied?

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

We are in close contact with our German partners and friends in this area, both at governmental and regional level.

As far as pollution and protection of the environment are concerned, we have given our partners all the relevant information, including information on the problems which arise in the Fessenheim area.

I should like to make it clear, however, that we cannot allow anyone to interfere with or to exercise any rights over the completion of our current nuclear programme.

Mr BOZZI (France) (translation)

Hear, hear!

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

In fact, our national nuclear programme is essential to France’s independence in the energy field. Moreover, we feel that it represents a vital contribution towards the reduction of Europe’s dependence in the energy sector. We are fully prepared to listen to the ecologists and to take account of their views, particularly where safety and protection of the environment are concerned, but we are not prepared to see our basic interests sacrificed to theories which are often more superficial than well-founded.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Barre has also agreed to answer Question No. 8, tabled by Mr Leon Herrero, concerning liberalisation of the French economy. This is:

“Mr Leon Herrero,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic to inform the Assembly of the results of the economic liberalisation policy adopted by the French Government, including the public and nationalised sectors, and to state whether it is determined to continue with this policy.”

Sir, the floor is yours.

Mr Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, I loathe nothing more than doctrinaire attitudes. Both as Prime Minister and, even more, as an economist I find it impossible to follow the current debate on such things as liberalism, interventionism, planning or the absence of planning, etc. Economic policy is built on realities – on economic, social, political and psychological realities.

France, for her part, pursues the policy of a country which is faithful to the ideal of a society based on freedom and responsibility.

In an economy and society of this kind, free initiative, free enterprise, respect for individual responsibility and acceptance of the penalties which must be paid when responsibility has not been assumed remain the basic principles on which the economy is organised.

In France, we possess a nationalised sector as a legacy of the Resistance and Liberation; we do not intend to denationalise our national concerns, because we are proud of them: national companies, such as Electricité de France, the Société nationale de chemins de fer français and Air France, are renowned, not only in France, but internationally. They form part of our national heritage, and we want to see them managed as dynamic, prosperous and effective firms: we do not want political interference with the running of these public concerns, since our aim is to see them prosperous, effective and of service to the nation.

As for private firms, they exist – and we do not intend to nationalise them. In this connection, prior to the 1978 elections, the French Government took an absolutely clear stand against the opposition’s joint programme which provided for large-scale nationalisation – and our position was, thank God, approved by a majority of the French people with that common sense which it usually displays. So much for the public and private sectors.

Secondly, we have tried to introduce new market machinery into the French economy. Why? Because a great and modern nation must be run in accordance with the principles of modern economic management.

For thirty years, we had enforced price-controls – controls which served to conceal, and not to solve, problems which merely reappeared later on. The only result was that our firms no longer possessed managerial freedom and the capacity to adjust to those difficult problems which they have to face. We have thus removed price-controls; this means that firms are now free to run themselves. We intend, however, to exercise this new freedom in an atmosphere of increased competition, both at home and abroad.

I would remind the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe that, since 1976, I have waged a daily battle against those whose only wish has been the reintroductions of protectionism on the frontiers of France. We have opted for international progress: for us, competition is a factor which makes for progress, and we have no intention of regressing.

Finally, we do not want French policy to relegate currency to a minor role. This is an important point. This may be liberalism but, if it is, then I am a liberal. What I mean by this is that no country has the right to let credit expand in a way which leads to inflation. This is why the French Government has taken steps since 1976 to ensure that the increase in the availability of currency does not outstrip the growth of national wealth, and indeed falls short of it.

We are not in favour of out-and-out monetarism: we do, however, believe that currency supplies must be controlled.

Moreover, we want our currency to have a stable value on the international market. We are against repeated devaluation, and we uphold the value of our currency. This is why we joined the European monetary system; we are pursuing the policy which suits our country, and our currency is holding the place which it should have in the European monetary system.

This is France’s economic policy. I do not know whether it is liberal or not. Whenever it has to, the state intervenes replacing those who must take the decisions but, at the same time, giving those decision-makers its encouragement or support.

In this way, we feel that we can turn France into a country capable of meeting the challenge inherent in the international situation of which I spoke earlier.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We have just spent, Mr Barre, an unusually interesting and rewarding hour in your company – an hour which will, I feel sure, go down in the annals of our Assembly. Given the interest in your comments, we are all aware that this session could have continued much longer.

I should like to apologise once again to those members of the Assembly whose questions could not be answered owing to lack of time.

Once again, Mr Barre, I thank you most sincerely, particularly for your words of encouragement and for your commitment to the aims and role of the Council of Europe.