Strasbourg, 14 June 2017
Madam President of the Council,
When I addressed the Paris Conference in November 2015 I saw the world united around a simple goal: to hand over to future generations a healthier planet, more stable, fairer societies and, more prosperous and modern economies.
Thanks to the negotiators and in particular to the chief negotiator for the European Union, my good friend Miguel Arias Cañete, a historic deal was made. The world agreed to save its one and only home.
Doing justice to its traditional name – gifts from God – the Marshall Islands took action becoming one of the first to ratify the Paris Agreement. The testimony of President Heine is a reminder of the need for action: it is a matter of survival.
Here is a fact: every morning the International Date Line sets that the day begins at the Marshall Islands. Madame President, we will work to help your country continue to mark the beginning of our days. We will not allow the denial of the very few to be the end of the days of the Marshall Islands.
Unfortunately not everyone in the world sees the truth of facts. The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement is more than a sad event. It is a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet.
We are disappointed and we regret that decision. But the abandonment of Paris by the U.S. administration will not mean the end of the Agreement. I am convinced that it will make the rest of the world more united and determined to work towards the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement. The 29 articles of the Agreement must be implemented and not renegotiated. Climate action does not need more distractions. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action, now it is the time for implementation.
I see a strengthened resolve from all those who care about the future of the planet and who see the opportunities of a modern economy. This includes partners within the United States such as the states of California, Washington and New York – which taken together would be the world's fourth economy.
As the European Union, we will step up our climate diplomacy and collaboration with other partners.
For instance, climate action was a key topic of the EU-China Summit on 2 June. In September, Miguel Arias Cañete will co-host a major gathering with his Chinese and Canadian counterparts to implement Paris and accelerate the clean energy transition.
We are also reaching out to our partners in the African Union and the ACP countries and we adopted joint statements expressing our common resolve. And we will work hard to have a clear message coming out of the G20 summit in July – or at least from 19.
In Paris, the world committed to help vulnerable countries adapt to consequences of climate change. The decision of the U.S. to go back on its pledge to the Green Climate Fund leaves a major void. From our side we stand firm to our commitments. And we will work with third countries to mobilise the right public and private investments.
You can count on the efforts of the Commission to keep the momentum behind Paris implementation.
In return we hope to count on your support to make the European Union's commitments a reality and make swift progress on all Commission proposals related to that goal.
When we ratified the Paris Agreement in record speed, this House showed its commitment to climate action. We need to keep the same spirit, more than ever.