Remarks by Consul General of France Vincent Floreani delivered to Illinois State Capitol on March 7, 2017
Consul General of France Vincent Floreani was invited to address the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate on March 7, 2017.
Remarks by Vincent Floreani, Consul general of France.
Illinois State Capitol, Springfield, IL
Honorable Members of the Illinois House / Honorable Members of the Illinois Senate,
It is a great honor for me to appear before you today in Springfield.
It’s an honor first of all because, to me, this esteemed assembly epitomizes both representative democracy and the separation of powers. The principles of representative democracy and separation of powers are at the core of our western democracies. We cherish them. We defend them. They ensure a balanced and efficient governance. We fought in the late 1700s, in the US and in France, to put these ideals into place.
Today, we continue to uphold and promote them in our own countries and throughout the world, together with respect for human rights, liberty, and equality for all. These values are at the heart of who we are.
It’s an honor also because this visit reminds us of our shared history, dating back many centuries, at least to the year 1673, with the arrival of Father Jacques Marquette and fur trader Louis Jolliet in what would later become Chicago and the great state of Illinois. Many names remind us of this common history; Illinois of course and also many other communities bear French names such as: Marseilles, Versailles, Champaign, Des Plaines, La Grange, Joliet, Massac and Fayette, to name a few. As a symbol of our presence in this area, the Consulate of France was established here in 1870, close to a century and a half ago.
It’s an honor, finally, because your invitation allows me to highlight the links that continue today, to strengthen the ties between Illinois and France.
One aspect is our economic relations that are dynamic and flourishing.
France is the world’s fifth largest economy and Illinois is among the top destinations in the US for French companies. With close to 26,000 jobs created in this state, France truly sees the value in the resources and talents in the Illinois.
Many of you are familiar with Schneider Electric, a French company that alone employs close to 6,000 people in Illinois. I could also name Veolia, Publicis, and many others.
Conversely, 122 Illinois companies, such as McDonald’s, Aptar, and Mondelez operate in France, representing 50,000 jobs.
With our teams, at the Consulate, - we are about 40 people - we are working hard to further increase these ties. This is one of our main priorities.
We are eager to bring officials here to show what the great State of Illinois has to offer.
Yesterday, I met with representatives of the State of Illinois Office of Trade & Investment.
The day after tomorrow, the French Minister for Industry will come to Chicago for discussions with French companies established in Illinois and to visit the DMDII, a leading institution for digital manufacturing.
On Sunday, the Mayor of Paris will be in Chicago for a two-day visit which includes visits with top incubators and accelerators.
We also endeavor to showcase French research and innovation. In a few weeks, in early May, we will organize the fourth annual French Innovation Week in Chicago, bringing world renowned scientists, researchers, innovative companies and start-ups. Workshops, visits, lectures,
as well as experimental activities for High-School pupils at UIC will take place throughout the city. These events are a great opportunity for members of the science and technology communities from France and Illinois to meet and discuss.
The “France Chicago Center”, one of the four bilateral funds existing in the US, also provides a unique platform for key research centers such as University of Chicago, Argonne National Lab and Fermilab to further deepen their links with research institutes and Universities in France.
Our efforts to reinforce the ties between Illinois and France also include the fields of education.
The French Lycée and the Ecole Franco-Américaine, both in Chicago, offer a dual language education to hundreds of young students, most of whom are American.
We are also working with the State of Illinois to develop French immersion schools. We are convinced that offering students a dual-education and culture will provide them with valuable assets to thrive in our globalized world.
We also continue to build relations between our Higher Education institutions. To that end, we work closely with the University of Chicago, Northwestern, the University of Illinois, De Paul, and many others.
We also partner with institutions such as the Northwestern’s Medill School for journalism, offering internships to American students interested in working with French daily newspapers. Furthermore, we offer a wide array of scholarships in the arts, sciences, technology, etc. to encourage the talents of tomorrow to be exposed to and
enriched by new opportunities and ways of thinking. We are proud of the exchange programs of students and professors in all areas of expertise that have been developed over the years. One of our goals is also to double the number of Illinois students in France.
In the US, we are the French Consulate that issues the greatest number of visas to American students.
Finally, we are convinced that our efforts must also address the soul of our peoples. That’s why culture is a very important part of our initiatives to bring Illinois and France closer.
We have developed close links with major Illinois museums, artists, and curators. Together with these partners, we organize cultural events throughout the year. Our relationship is also at grassroots level, with several successful Sister Cities partnerships throughout the state including Belvidere, Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palatine.
Dear Honorable Senators and Representatives
Just as you held your elections in November, we will be holding our presidential and parliamentary elections in a few weeks.
In DC and in Paris, governments come and go, but what remains is the long-standing friendship between our two countries. The first treaties between France and the US were signed in 1778. We have been allies and friends for more than two centuries. France will never forget what we owe the American people, who twice in the last century, in 1917 and 1944, crossed the Atlantic and risked their lives to free us from tyranny.
More than ever, France is committed to the European Union, as we are about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the treaty establishing the foundation of the European Economic Community. The EU has delivered peace, prosperity, social progress and cohesion in Europe for several decades. Today, Europe is the world 2nd largest economy and the Euro the second largest reserve currency. France is also committed to a strong relation between the EU and the United States of America.
I’m sure I can count on you to support our efforts in developing the links between the great state of Illinois and France.
Thank you very much
“Merci beaucoup” for your invitation.
Thank you for this honor./.