The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - April 15, 2020
In this issue:

◢  EU – Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne attending trade ministers'videoconference (April 16, 2020)

◢  World Health Organization (WHO)

◢  Covid-19 – China

EU – Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne attending trade ministers'videoconference (April 16, 2020)

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, minister of State, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will attend tomorrow's videoconference of European trade ministers.

This meeting will be devoted essentially to the economic and commercial implications of the Covid-19 crisis, in line with the guidelines established by the EU heads of state and government and G20 leaders on March 26.

The ministers will discuss the means available to the EU to help bolster value and supply chains at the global level, especially with respect to protective medical equipment in response to the pandemic, but also food items. They will also discuss the lessons to be learned from the current crisis for the global economy and the international trading system, as well as maintaining a stable, predictable, open environment for trade and investment, which are key to economic recovery.

France will stress the importance of a perfectly coordinated response to this unprecedented health crisis at both the European and international levels, and will reaffirm its commitment to the principle of solidarity and a rules-based multilateral trading system. It will support initiatives designed to facilitate the trade of essential items to combat the pandemic and ease multilateral trade tensions, while underscoring the need to strengthen the EU's capacity to combat unfair practices. It will urge the EU to adopt a strategic approach in response to the crisis aimed at diversifying value chains and securing supplies in a manner consistent with the European Green Deal and our international commitments on sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

World Health Organization (WHO)

U.S. President Donald Trump decided to halt American funding for the World Health Organization. How do you view this decision? What repercussions will it have for the organization? Donald Trump announced last night that he would freeze U.S. funding for the WHO. President Macron recently said he refused to see the WHO "locked into" a war between China and the U.S.; this represents a further step down that path. What is France's response? Does France believe the WHO did a good job managing the situation, or is it also expressing certain reservations?

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the world's only universal public health organization. It is crucial to the management of the current crisis, which is itself global. It alone has the capacity to work with all governments to coordinate health responses and the prompt sharing of scientific information. Its work is essential to helping countries with fragile healthcare systems and to avoiding continuous outbreaks and recurrences that could affect the entire world.

In this context, we therefore took note of the announcement of the temporary freeze on the U.S. contribution to the Organization's budget. We regret it.

Covid-19 is a pandemic that affects every continent and every society. That is why France is working resolutely to promote solidarity and the broadest possible international cooperation. It is doing so within all multilateral institutions, with its major partners and, of course, with all of its EU partners.

We, along with Europe, will be on hand to help the WHO pursue all of its activities and to strengthen the organization.

This crisis also shows that there are things that must be improved and made stronger. The same holds true for the WHO. We must strengthen international health architecture in order to make it more effective and better funded, and equip it with faster warning and response capabilities in the event of epidemics.

Covid-19 – China

Can you specify what "recent remarks" by the Chinese Embassy in France elicited the "disapproval" of Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian? Did the Chinese ambassador offer an explanation when he was summoned to the Quai d'Orsay?

I refer you to yesterday's press release by the minister.

France in the
United States
Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.
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