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Press conference by the President of the French Republic prior to the G7 and NATO Summits
- Opening remarks -
I am delighted to see you here today at the Élysée Palace for this press conference ahead of several major international events. I might just take a few moments to try to share some convictions and messages with you, and then I will answer all your questions.
We are gradually emerging — and I say this with great humility and caution — from an extremely serious pandemic in our country, our continent and around the world, which tested our ability to react and cooperate with each other. We will have an opportunity to attend a summit with the new American Administration at the G7 Summit chaired by the United Kingdom, and then a NATO Summit, which takes place a few weeks after the Summit on the Financing of African Economies which we held in Paris. For me, these events are an opportunity to resume international cooperation on major issues and implement several commitments and causes in which France has heavily invested over the past four years, as well as moments of clarification on important issues. I would like to focus on four priorities which have no doubt been crucial in shaping our international policy in recent years.
First, effective multilateralism through causes and commitments, whether involving climate, health, equality, digital technology or taxation. Second, European sovereignty. Third, a new relationship with Africa. And fourth, managing regional crises which in recent years has focused on fighting terrorism, upholding our values and respecting the sovereignty of all States. I think I can say that the current period will enable results to be achieved in all these areas as well as provide useful clarifications.
The first point I would like to address is effective multilateralism. We have often defended it. Over the past four years, European countries have defended, supported and in some ways guaranteed this effective multilateralism, while the United States chose to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and end cooperation in many areas. Together, we have defended multilateralism, and France has played a role with several initiatives and operations. And I believe that we laid important foundations at the G7 in Biarritz. On the issues of health, climate and equality on each of the points. Biarritz set out ambitions and desires, the summary of which can be provided to you, and concrete outcomes for which have been seen over recent weeks and months, and some of which will be finalized at the G7. And so I believe now is truly the time to resume cooperation and enable this effective multilateralism to fully work. I will try to talk further about each of the themes.
First is health. The pandemic tested our credibility in this area. And yet we did not wait for the pandemic to defend this multilateralism. I would like to recall that, there too, we expressed the desire to strengthen the multilateral framework as regards health in Biarritz. We highlighted the importance of financing the WHO and multilateral frameworks there, and a few weeks later, we held the Global Fund’s Replenishment Conference in Lyon which enables vaccinations and the fight against major pandemics, particularly in Africa. We met our commitments at a time when many others had reduced them, and so whether in Lyon in autumn 2019 or our G7, we then continued this health multilateralism from the start of the health crisis and in my opinion, the most important initiative in recent months was ACT-A, which we created with our African partners. We defended it and introduced it into the G20 and we built an initiative with the aim of giving capacity to the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, to tackle the epidemic with tests, diagnostics, treatments and vaccines with the commitment to strengthen and fund primary systems. I will return to each of these points. ACT-A has continued its work and has helped structure the COVAX initiative, this vaccine donation, and this comes at a moment of truth during this G7. This is why, on health issues, this G7 is a moment for collective commitment and clarification.
First, we must define a target. We are discussing vaccines, there are many targets and I am wary of targets when it is a case of adding billions with no specific timetable or results to be achieved. And I must say that the discussions I have had with States, particularly African States — as I believe that the recipient States are the best placed to define the targets we must set — have convinced me that we must above all aim to vaccinate a percentage of the population. And it was the African crisis agency, CDC Africa, that set the target of 60% of Africans to be vaccinated by the end of the first quarter of 2022, and 40% by the end of the year 2021. This target has been raised compared to the target under the COVAX framework, which is the vehicle through which the international community committed to provide these vaccines, which was just 20%. I think that it is the right target, which we must take on as part of this G7. France is ready to play its full part. As you now know, we have starting donating doses. For this year, and therefore until the end of 2021, we have committed to donate 30 million doses. Since the Germans have also pledged to give 30 million doses, the European Union will reach the target of at least 100 million doses. In accordance with agreements, I think that we must review these national and regional targets to align them with these vaccination targets. And I would like France to approve in proportion to its share the target to vaccinate 40% by the end of this year and 60% by the end of the first quarter of next year. So far, we have transferred over 800,000 doses via COVAX and 1.7 million will be made by the end of the month, allocated to 14 African countries. And these are not just pledges. They are deliveries which have already been made and I think that it is important to stress that 800,000 doses have already been delivered via COVAX and 1.7 million will have been made by the end of the month. I am glad that the United States is fully involved in this initiative and is moving in the same direction. So in the short term, the objective is 40% by the end of the year and 60% by the end of the first quarter 2022.
How can we achieve this? In the very short term, for me, the priority must remain to donate doses. That is the path we have chosen to follow. It is the path that we can increase as part of the discussions in the coming days. And it is, I believe, the most effective and fair path. So that it can work and be enhanced, we must also remove all export restrictions. And the G7 must enable all these obstacles to be removed. As we know, there were exports bans by several G7 member countries, which blocked the production in other countries and sometimes blocked production in middle-income countries, which is essential in order to produce vaccines for the poorest countries. To take just one example, we have India. Production in India, and in particular the Serum Institute of India, was blocked by export restrictions on ingredients required to produce these vaccines which came from certain G7 economies. They must be lifted so that India can produce more for itself and can supply Africans in particular, who are highly dependent on its production.
Secondly, our mechanisms today do not only include donations of doses. Others would like to buy doses. Some would like to produce them to donate. This will be at the heart of America’s strategy. All strategies are obviously good if they allow us to reach our goal of vaccinating and providing coverage for people, in accordance with the World Health Organization’s objective. But we are going to defend a point which seems to me essential in this: transparency. Today there is no reference price for the COVAX Facility either for the doses it buys or vis-à-vis recipient countries. Price transparency is essential in terms of fairness and effectiveness. Today we do not know how much COVAX pays pharmaceutical companies for doses. As a result, the African States which rightly also decided to complement these initiatives by making their own purchases very often buy at twice or three times the price that we, the richest States, pay. It is completely unfair and must be remedied here. It isn’t a case of getting price transparency for contracts between pharmaceutical companies and the richest States or the international community: that is a matter for business law, and we want to respect it. But for solidarity mechanisms there has to be price transparency which will make it possible for the poorest States to have reference prices for what they buy.
Then comes the issue of intellectual property. And it will in fact be crucial to how effective we are. Why? Because I think that we have to organize ourselves right now – I was talking about this yesterday to the NGOs most involved in the issue – in order to enable also the poorest and middle-income countries to produce for themselves. In the very short term, we have to donate and produce to donate, but as soon as possible we must allow economies to produce for themselves if they can, in particular in Africa. I believe this is a matter of respect but also one of collective efficiency. Africa today accounts for around 20% of vaccines. It has the capacity to produce only 1% of vaccines.
This is the objective I put at the heart of my visit a few weeks ago, to South Africa in particular, after the visit to Rwanda. We have also conducted an initiative which is aimed at exactly that, jointly with Germany, the United States of America and the World Bank, through the IFC. So we need to speed up technology transfer and capacity building in all countries which are able to in the poorest or middle-income regions in order to produce vaccines. This will not cover needs for the next six months, but in the next 12-18 months we can start production on the basis of existing capacities. And above all, this is what will enable us to be more resilient in future pandemics. No one knows how many doses we will need over time to tackle COVID-19 because no one knows what our needs will be in terms of booster vaccines. But we will definitely have other pandemics and we have, as we know, other vaccines to produce. On this subject, we must commit at the World Health Organization, at the World Trade Organization, to ensuring that intellectual property will never be an obstacle to vaccine access. And for me, this the principle which must govern our work. Intellectual property must never block these technology transfers and the capacity to produce. This is why we decided to put a proposal on the table with South Africa for this G7 meeting also allowing us to work on a time-and-space-limited waiver for this intellectual property. We are championing the fair remuneration of innovation and respect for intellectual property. There can be no great innovation if there is no fair remuneration for intellectual property. But the nature of the profits made today and their magnitude justify that, for countries able to do so, in defined cases and at the epidemic’s peak, we should reflect, move forward and work on these intellectual-property waivers which will allow us to speed up property transfer and production. This is an initial proposal made by India and South Africa which we have reworked, which we would like to work on further with WHO, WTO, our partners. But I hope it will, precisely, make an agreement possible during this G7. In that framework, and to add to our reply on the issue, in the short term we are also championing the idea that doses donated by States should be supplemented by a donation of doses made by pharmaceutical companies.
Indeed, I want to reiterate here that, in the past, we have collectively defined such commitments for the private sector. During the H1N1 epidemic in particular, we defined targets for donations of doses by pharmaceutical companies with a commitment to donate 10% of doses sold elsewhere. It is what was called the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, which was adopted at the 64th World Health Assembly. This goal seems particularly pertinent to us. We are obviously going through an international crisis. States, with money provided by our fellow citizens, our taxpayers throughout the world, to a huge extent funded the research, speeded-up research, the purchase of doses for us and those we could donate. It is legitimate for the pharmaceutical industry to contribute proportionately, on the basis of this existing framework, to this solidarity. Those are the main expectations and objectives France will be upholding on the issue of health, which allow us to build on ACT-A and go further, donate, produce to donate and allow the poorest and middle-income countries to produce for themselves if they can.
The second major issue is obviously the climate. On this point, the last few months have seen the return of the United States of America, and I think this is clearly the most crucial decision for our international agenda. For four years Europe, in partnership with China, has preserved the framework of the Paris Agreement. The return of the United States of America signals what is obviously a very crucial step forward that enables us to strengthen this framework, even though we still have a huge amount of work to do, and the goal is now to implement and speed up this implementation. In recent months the European Union has also set some extremely strong goals here too, increasing its commitments for 2030, with a 55% reduction in emissions, and endorsing carbon neutrality for 2050. In April the United States of America made its own commitments, and so on the basis of this framework we are going to meet during this G7 summit to prepare for the important COP26 session in Glasgow. And there are a few points we are especially keen to see: obviously in addition to these goals and, now, the implementation of regulations, carbon pricing and investments that each geographical area will have to make, we will obviously have to make progress on climate finance. I think the G7 is an appropriate framework, in particular for climate finance methodology and standards, and we are championing the idea of having ad-hoc standardization, using the OECD in particular. But I think the Europeans have an important role to play in this. And where we have historically delegated accounting standards to the “Anglo-Saxon” world, I think our historic role is to take responsibility for creating moral standards for our capitalism, be they environmental or social standards. This is an agenda which I have been championing since the beginning of my term, which I set out in Davos just over three years ago now, and which is gradually being implemented, in particular this standardization issue. It is what we have been upholding through the TCFD, and we are also going to do the same thing on biodiversity. The other point, obviously, is precisely this biodiversity agenda. We have COP15 in Kunming at the end of the year. We will have the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille in September, and we would like this fight to protect biodiversity, which is completely aligned with our fight against climate change, to be rooted in the G7 framework. In this regard, this is the follow-up to the OPS on Biodiversity that was held here at the beginning of the year.
The third major issue on which effective multilateralism is making progress and will be enshrined at this G7 summit is digital regulation. This issue – and we will certainly have the opportunity to discuss it again – is key to our democracies. We have seen in recent years the disruption of minds at work in the digital sphere. Let me remind you that in the spring of 2017 – the very start of summer 2017 – we launched an initiative to combat terrorist content online, with the then prime minister, Theresa May. Initially, as crazy as it may sound today, we largely failed. And in the name of the defence of freedom of expression, we were, in a way, sent back to the drawing board. Things took an unfortunate turn. And after the terrible attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the spring of 2019, we held a meeting here at the Élysée Palace in May 2019, a meeting for the “Christchurch Call”, which brought together several governments and major technology and social media industries to set up a first innovative framework, in which we committed to the removal of terrorist content or content advocating terrorism within one hour, but also to a method of cooperation between States and digital stakeholders. This method has produced results. We have had concrete results because all the platforms that signed it complied with it. The proof is what France, too, experienced last autumn, when we suffered attacks. It was the platforms that alerted us to them and removed the content first, within the hour. Above all, Europe has built on this progress, because we have passed legally binding legislation that now includes in our law the obligation to remove terrorist content within an hour. We must now go further, in two respects.
The first is to open up the Call to more member countries. And in this respect, we made substantial progress in May because the United States of America confirmed its decision to join the Christchurch Call, which obviously – given the number of companies present on American soil and incorporated in the United States of America – is a key change, and I welcome it.
The second thing is to make progress to create a framework that enables us – as effectively as we did for terrorism – to combat all online hate speech: racist speech, anti-semitic speech and all harassment speech as well. As you know, we have been pursuing this agenda in France, and we will pursue it to completion. We would like to pursue it at European level through the directives proposed at the end of last year by the Commission, which are the result of this Christchurch agenda. In the international context, we would also like to see a commitment from the G7 to move in this direction. This is what we are promoting, in order to have genuinely effective multilateralism in terms of regulating the Internet and its content. This is the sole condition for having an effective framework that we will then bring to the G20, enabling us to combat the descent into savagery of minds and communication and therefore the descent into savagery of our new global public order. Algorithms in particular are a key element we must target in these regulations. Not only are they a cooperative framework with these networks and these major groups, these major platforms, we are also still making progress on a more binding framework at the same time, because we are passing national and European legislation to complement it. This initiative is the key to avoiding – we can come back to this in the questions if you wish – any fragmentation of the global Internet, because what is at stake is our ability to regulate it. The risk otherwise is that de facto regulations will be imposed on us which are structured around Chinese preferences on the one hand, and American preferences on the other. What we are fighting for here is to defend our values, the very ones at the heart of multilateralism and universalism, built in the second half of the 20th century.
The fourth key issue of this effective multilateralism, which is almost a continuation of what I’ve just said, is international taxation. As you know, for the past four years France has been fighting to ensure we put right a deep injustice in the way we organize things internationally: the fact that major groups which make excess profits – because they manage to optimize thanks to the digitalization of their business in particular – don’t pay their fair share of taxes. That is inexplicable for our taxpayers and our fellow citizens. It’s unfair for our businesses, in particular small and very small enterprises which do pay taxes, even though they’re sometimes in the same sector. We’ve promoted this agenda. We’ve fought for it, at the OECD first of all. And this agenda – whatever the outstanding work the OECD and its teams have done since the outset, and I want to pay tribute to them here – has been blocked by the American Administration over the past four years. We then decided to promote it at European level. And in a way, it itself waited for the steps forward by the OECD. And so we, a few Member States, decided to implement our digital taxes in order to forge ahead, which France has done and for which it’s taken responsibility. And now that we’re experiencing progress, I really want to reiterate the role we played, and above all the role played by certain French economic sectors which were, in a way, the victims of reprisals. And now that we’re registering a victory for this international tax, my thoughts go to our wine growers and many, sometimes small-scale, businesses which, over the past two years, have been penalized by American retaliation because we established a digital tax. That’s how it happened, let’s not forget that. There were some people who were against. There were some people who were in favour of moving forward in secret. I welcome the fact that we didn’t move forward in secret, as far as we’re concerned, and that certain economic sectors paid the price. And I thank them, because they were, in a way, the collateral victims of our sense of responsibility. That’s why it is, I’d say, obvious that we’re now just waiting for the date when we’ll have every assurance that such taxes won’t re-emerge.
I think there’s no longer any point in trade conflict, because we all agree and we’re finally going to be able to establish this fair taxation, which is built around two pillars, as you know, one which enables us to tax excess profits and therefore in particular those of the major digital groups, and the second which enables us to establish a minimum tax of at least 15%, which prevents tax optimization by the major groups. The final technical details will come in the next few weeks, but for the French economy it’s something that will probably bring in around €5-10 billion, and for the European economies something that will bring in around €50 billion. And so you see the importance of these steps forward, which will materialize around 2025. So we mustn’t weaken, but tax justice also enables us to be more efficient and, in a way, lighten the burden on other taxpayers. This agreement was confirmed by the G7 finance ministers. We’re going to endorse it at heads-of-State-and-government level. At the beginning of July, it will be promoted in the G20 framework. And it will be completed in an inclusive framework, namely 139 States overseen by the OECD, because obviously such taxation is effective only if there isn’t the slightest leakage to tax havens which stand outside this framework. But in doing this, we’re going to finalize a job that began in the financial crisis of 2008-2010 and made it possible to end banking secrecy, then end tax avoidance mechanisms through the erosion of tax bases. So it’s a massive step forward for a more effective and fairer globalization.
The last point with respect to effective multilateralism is precisely the fight against inequalities. The pandemic has sharply magnified these inequalities, and so here too we must pledge to strengthen our investments. As you know, France is voting on a trajectory that would raise its official development assistance in the very short term from 0.5% or 0.55% of GNI to 0.7%, bringing an end to more than a decade during which it has either decreased or remained the same. And at the heart of this fight against inequality, we want to focus on combating gender inequality, as we have done for the past four years. It was the focus of the G7 in Biarritz, which led to concrete progress. I want to mention two examples. First, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, which we launched in Biarritz, supported by the African Development Bank and promoted by Angélique Kidjo, has raised €1 billion to fund projects by female entrepreneurs throughout Africa. Second, we launched a legislative compilation urging each participating State to adopt legislation, as we are doing ourselves. We have done so in France. It has helped 14 partner countries move forward, adopting legislation in support of gender equality – whether pay equality or status equality.
We would of course like to continue this progress at this G7. In particular, we will be making commitments to replenish the Global Partnership for Education, which we have co-chaired for three years now with Senegal, and we will earmark 50% for girls’ education. I say this because it is a battle we have been waging from the beginning, along with a few others, but when it comes to combating inequality, investing in girls’ education – especially in Africa – is crucial. It has flagged in recent months because of the pandemic and because of conflicts across the region. We will increase our commitment, earmarking it for girls’ education. The other point is of course that we are laying the groundwork for the Generation Equality Forum, which we co-chair with Mexico and UN Women, and which will be held right here at the end of June and beginning of July. Twenty-five years after Beijing, it too will allow us to fight to protect women’s rights worldwide, including in the areas closest to our country where those rights are often threatened, whether they be the right of women to have control over their own bodies or simply that to have a rightful place in society. At the edge of Europe, these rights are now being jeopardized, and this meeting is absolutely crucial in this regard. That is the first and main point I would like to come back to: for us, this G7 summit, which is in a way the culmination of the past few months, represents – thanks to the return of a US Administration that shares most of our beliefs, and thanks too to the work we have done over the past four years – the possibility of achieving real results, in addition to everything we’ve done recently.
The second major focus – I will go over this a lot faster – is for me central to the coming days: it is European sovereignty. You have often heard me defend this concept which I deeply believe in: that of a European Union that needs to build the framework for its strategic autonomy in the economic, industrial and technological fields, and its military values. We have made real progress in recent years in this respect: Defence Europe has progressed to an extent never seen since the 1950s, with enhanced cooperation, a European Defence Fund and joint projects. Many of these joint projects have been Franco-German, sometimes expanded to a few other partners, and have seen massive progress in recent weeks. We have presided over a renaissance in terms of technological sovereignty over 5G, as well as over essential components, with a Commission much more involved in this agenda and particularly in the digital sector. There is the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act, and we have developed economic and financial sovereignty during this unparalleled crisis, particularly thanks to the Franco-German initiative of May 2020 and the July Summit which gave rise to the capacity for joint debt and to an unprecedented investment plan.
And so, we arrive at this G7, and at this NATO Summit, with all these achievements. For me, the first goal, is for our partners to recognize this new position in Europe and that we can build a new partnership with the United States of America. A partnership of values, an alliance on some subjects, but a clear-sighted partnership where we say that it is up to us to handle our neighbourhood because we have learned from our collective history, and particularly the history of the last 20 years. And it is in this state of mind that I will arrive at the G7 and the NATO Summit. I welcome America’s return to the concert of nations and to this cooperative multilateralism. And for me, what is key is that the Europeans remain united and attentive to their shared sovereignty, and that we also have our own path, our community of values, but independence when it comes to our strategy with regard to China. Independence when it comes to our strategy with regard to our neighbours, including Russia or Turkey. And responsibility when it comes to handling our neighbourhoods, in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and Africa.
In this respect, there are three essential points for the upcoming NATO Summit. Firstly, precisely these consolidation efforts need to be respected in our dialogue, and the strategic autonomy of Europeans in terms of capacities should be acknowledged. In 2020, France invested 2% of its GDP in its defence and military issues. Secondly, we need to implement the recommendations of the report by the NATO Reflection Group. Once again, the spirit of responsibility and continuity. I followed up on the Biarritz G7 in summer 2019. We need to follow up on the 2019 Summit and the “alarm” I sounded with regard to NATO. The Reflection Group produced a report. What does it say? That NATO needs to clarify its common values. That NATO should establish a code of good conduct between allies, and that NATO should clarify its Strategic Concept. It will be accompanied by the work on the Strategic Compass under the French EU Presidency then, a few months later, the clarification and finalization of the NATO Strategic Concept by all members. I believe the meeting on Monday should be an opportunity to enshrine this agenda, further the fact that NATO must clarify its role and its strategy in this respect, and above all, embed the contribution of the report by the Reflection Group, with the code of good conduct between member countries. The third point that I think is very important in this context is that we should accept, as Europeans, to be the actors of arms control on our soil. I think that is an essential subject for the coming months and year. The INF Treaty was terminated by the United States of America in 2019 and not complied with by Russia. We cannot accept to return to a Cold War grammar. Europe is not simply an object or a territory for the distribution of influences. We are a subject of international geopolitics and we need to assert ourselves as such. The Europeans therefore need to decide for themselves what arms control is appropriate for them. France, as a permanent member of the Security Council which is comfortable with the choice of being a nuclear-weapon State and has invested in the nuclear component, does indeed intend to defend its values and its place in this dialogue.
A third focus in the coming days is the new relationship, the New Deal with Africa. I will go over this very quickly, but it is important as it is also what has guided what we have been doing from the beginning, from the Ouagadougou Speech through to the French G7 Presidency, where we involved African States in designing our own agenda, for the first time. They were stakeholders in the G7 and in ACT-A, which we designed with African countries, and in the vaccine initiatives that we are building together. I will arrive at this G7 with the same certainty. Here too, African countries have been stakeholders in the ambitions of the international community concerning them. That is essential. That is why, for vaccines, we need to take on board the objectives of the African Union and Africa, and we need to move forward on that agenda with them. The focus, above and beyond what I have already said about health, of what we want to promote for Africa, is the financing of African economies, following up the Paris Summit. Why? Because while Africa has suffered a health crisis like we all have, it has also suffered an economic crisis on an unprecedented scale. Closure of economies, closure of international trade, and restrictions, have had an impact in Africa that is incomparable with that we have experienced, and African economies clearly do not have the fiscal capacities we have. Nor do they have the monetary instruments we have. All the major economic centres in the world have practiced an extremely accommodative monetary policy during this period. China, using its own system, the United States with its Fed, and the Eurozone, with the ECB. Africa has not had these mechanisms at its disposal, so the financing needs created by the COVID-19 crisis total at least $290 billion between today and 2025. At least. This is not just a matter of solidarity. It is also a duty of effectiveness, like for vaccines. Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with 70% of its population under the age of 25. Its share of the global population increases every year. By 2050, it will be home to a quarter of the global population, and particularly young people. If we left Africa alone with its financing needs, we would be shouldering the same responsibility as our allies after the Second World War leaving Europe to deal with its debts. It is a question of clear-sightedness on the part of the international community, and particularly the Europeans, at a time when we talk about helping Africa, for its own sake and our own, because we need to change this relationship which should no longer be one of mistrust, security, undesired migration, but which should allow African economies to build the future of their young people by giving them the means to thrive.
In the immediate term, that means a massive investment in Africa’s economies. We have advocated, since November last year, at the Paris Peace Forum, an exceptional allocation of special drawing rights of the International Monetary Fund. What does that mean? It is an increase in the reserves of the International Monetary Fund which, in a way, amounts to money creation for the members’ economies. The new US Administration has supported this idea. We have therefore built up an agreement to allocate $650 billion special drawing rights, which is a historic result. If the IMF quotas are applied mechanically, they will represent only $33 billion for Africa, including $24 billion for sub-Saharan Africa – a tenth of what is needed. To address that, we, the richest countries, need to reallocate our special drawing rights to pass them on to them. That is where solidarity comes into play. At the Paris Summit, France undertook to do so, so that at least $100 billion goes to African economies. In truth, we need to aim for $150 billion. We will do everything we can to reach a consensus on that. That of course means having the agreement of the United States of America and Congress and that of the rest of our European partners. The G7 Summit should enable us to reach this historic agreement, with the aim of ensuring at least $100 billion in special drawing rights go to Africa. That is an essential start. This mechanism should be supplemented with an agreement to also sell some of our gold reserves and finance investment. Why? Because IMF gold reserves have risen in value because of the crisis. Because gold has been a haven for investors. We should give this excess profit to the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, that need it today. Not in 20 or 30 years. Today.
We also need to work to enable African regional banks to use these special drawing rights, which would allow them to generate a leverage effect and be genuine partners of development. We advocate for the African Union, the African Development Bank and other regional banks to be able to make use of these special drawing rights to make more grants and loans to support their economies. Lastly, we are working to supplement this initiative with two things. The first is massive private-sector investment. That is why we launched the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa to support private investment, in liaison with the IFC, a subsidiary of the World Bank Group, on the one hand, and the reconstruction of the international fiscal and financial framework of the IMF and World Bank, on the other. The IMF’s current deficit, deficit monitoring and reform rules need to be overhauled, in partnership with beneficiary States, once again out of respect and coherence, as all the world’s economies have reviewed their fiscal dogmas. We Europeans have lifted the constraints we imposed on ourselves almost 30 years ago. Why continue imposing the same constraints on African economies, when their challenges are even greater than ours given their demographics? We need to overhaul this framework and agree, as G7 economies, to drive this action. Lastly, there is the issue of crisis management. I will not cover all crises, and I will answer your questions on any that I do not mention. So, crisis management. Here too, I will continue and conclude with Africa. For the last four years, the management of crisis has involved following a few guiding principles.
Firstly, taking action wherever it has been necessary to fight international terrorism, particularly islamist terrorism. Because we have been affected at home and because they destabilize neighbouring and friendly regions. For too long, the Middle East, with the issue, of course, of our involvement in the coalition in the Iraq-Syria zone, as well as the Iran issue, and also, Africa, as the epicentre of international terrorism has shifted to Africa over the course of the last two years.
The second principle that has always guided us is defending of our values. Here too, action should always be to promote, defend and ensure respect for the values we uphold internationally.
The third principle is respecting the sovereignty of States. That is a grammar that, I believe, you have often heard me talk about, and I do not think we can stand in for a sovereign people to build their assets in their place. We can influence, we can work, we can put pressure on governments. But I do not believe in a policy that means standing in for them. That is moreover how we have always worked, both in the Middle East and in Africa. In this respect, France has now, as you know, been engaged for a little over eight years in the Sahel, following the salutary intervention of François Hollande in Mali, which saved Bamako and stopped the destabilization of the Malian State, at the request of the Malian government and ECOWAS. We then engaged, at the request of the region’s sovereign States and ECOWAS, in “Operation Barkhane”, a long-term operation that structured the protection of these States against islamist terrorism across the region, which was a threat to their state sovereignty.
A lot of our soldiers have fallen in action. And when I say that, my thoughts go out to them, to their families, because we owe them coherence; we owe it to them to complete the mission, and we owe them clarity when it comes to our aims. I clarified the framework of our intervention at the Pau Summit in early 2020, and took stock of developments in N’Djamena early this year. We are now arriving at a moment that requires us to do what I started setting out in Pau, which we drew up late last year and which I have shared with our partners, because the time has come. Our engagement in the Sahel will not continue in the same format. Along with the partners engaged alongside us, and with regional States, as I have always taken care to involve them and to work with them, we are going to learn lessons from what has worked, including the shifts that we brought about in Pau, and then in N’Djamena. And we will also learn lessons from what did not work. The lasting presence of France in the form of overseas operations cannot stand in for the return of the State and government services, political stability and the choices of sovereign States. We cannot secure areas which fall apart because States decide not to shoulder their responsibility. That is impossible, or else endless.
That is why, following consultations we will hold with our partners, particularly our American partners who have played an essential role from the beginning, for which I would like to thank them, and our European partners, who also stand with us, particularly within the EUTM, we will undertake a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel, the terms and schedule of which will be set out in the coming weeks, by the end of June. I will initiate this work in the coming days. This transformation will mean a change in model. It will involve moving to a new framework: the end of Operation Barkhane as an overseas operation, replaced by an operation to provide support and cooperation to the armed forces of regional countries which so wish, and the implementation of a military operation and international alliance involving regional States and all our partners, with a strict focus on fighting terrorism. This new framework will preserve our commitments to the partners engaged alongside us in the Takuba Task Force and in the EUTM, which will continue building up. The EUTM will be an aspect of the training of all partner armed forces, and Takuba will be the pillar of this counter-terrorism force. The French armed forces will of course be the backbone, but they will work alongside the special forces from partner regional States that wish to and can participate, and of course by the special forces of our European partners. Many of them are already engaged alongside us in this framework. We are going to work on these shifts in the coming weeks, and they will be presented in the Coalition for the Sahel framework, which we established at the N’Djamena Summit, which will be meeting very soon. I will be presenting these changes at the end of June. That is what I wanted to share with you now. I will now take all your questions.
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