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Official speeches and statements - March 2, 2021

Published on March 2, 2021

1. Burma/Myanmar - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - March 1, 2021)


France utterly condemns the escalation of violence by Myanmar’s security forces, which resulted in a significant number of deaths and injuries among peaceful demonstrators. It calls for an immediate end to this violence.

France is working with its EU partners on new restrictive measures against those responsible for the coup and supports the mediation efforts of the ASEAN countries. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, has spoken in recent days with several of his counterparts in the region about this issue.

France stands alongside the people of Myanmar in their efforts to defend democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law. (...)

2. European Union - COVID-19 / vaccines - Excerpts from the interview given by Mr. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to France Inter (Paris - February 28, 2021)


Knowing how far the tourism sector’s roots extend in France, can we afford not to reopen very quickly?

THE MINISTER - Wait, I’m getting onto that. I say "health" and not "vaccine" [passport] because I think we need various tools. Currently, when you have a negative PCR test, you can fly to Europe because you’re not at risk. I think we must broaden our range; we may need either an app where you can show you’ve been vaccinated - and are therefore protected - or a negative PCR test or reliable negative antigen test, in which case you’re not at risk either. Let me add that there are issues to resolve, including scientific issues; the President and Prime Minister have repeated this. Currently when you’ve been vaccinated, we don’t know 100%: we know you’re protected, we don’t know to what extent you’re contagious or not.

The problem is also that whatever expression you use - whether it be "vaccine passport" or "health passport" as you say - there’s no common medical certification. And how can we prevent Greece, for example, which wants to rescue its tourist industry, from proposing or demanding vaccination certificates so people can go and spend their holidays there? In that case we’ll be powerless, and once again it’ll show the divisions between the 27.

That’s why on Thursday we proposed what the French President has said, i.e. let’s work on this right now, together. Let’s resolve the scientific issues (are people protected, are people basically non-contagious when they’ve been vaccinated?), the ethical issues (from what moment is there enough access to vaccination to have this authorization?) and the technical issues (do we create a very specific joint European app, which we haven’t previously succeeded in doing? Which would be very good, I think). We have a few months to do that, until the spring, I think.

But Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal have already sort of decided, haven’t they?

They’ve started, of course, because they’re in a hurry due to their tourist season. But they recognize just as much as we do that there are these prior issues to resolve. And what we said on Thursday evening - it was what the Chancellor said, and the President too - was that we’re working on it. The President was open about the issue, but at the same time he said: let’s resolve the issues for our domestic activities and for mobility in Europe together as Europeans...

In fact he was closed; now he’s apparently envisaging this vaccine passport being created by the summer... [passport], because it’s not only linked to the vaccine - sorry, but I must stress that: it’s not only linked to the vaccine.

Health passport.

A question about global vaccination. Basically, Emmanuel Macron emphasized some time ago that the vaccine should basically be opened up, accessible to everyone all over the world and removed from the laws of the market, because the idea is that until the world’s population is sufficiently vaccinated we’ll still be at the mercy of the epidemic. What stage are we at on this, and ultimately what obstacles have to be overcome to achieve it?

We have to overcome international obstacles to achieve this solidarity. First of all, let me also remind you this solidarity begins with Europe. The area in which we live and move around, as we can see with cross-border workers, is Europe. That’s also why it’s very important for us to vaccinate together in Europe, with a common framework and at the same pace. If Germany were now to vaccinate a lot more than France or vice versa, and a lot more than Spain or Italy, we’d have a huge health problem. So it’s also in our interest to act as Europeans. The same applies at global level: if you allow Africa, for example - which doesn’t currently have the means to purchase the vaccine - to live with a very fragile health system in the long term, in the face of the epidemic, well, we’ll also have - it’s a matter of solidarity and humanity, it’s in our own interest - at some point we’ll also be importing the epidemic again.

But how do you persuade labs which have basically taken risks, which have developed innovative technologies, to freely provide their patents or their knowledge?

That’s also why it’s wrong to say that removing the patent would be a good idea, because there’s fair remuneration for all innovation. We were talking about the innovation culture; it’s essential. There’s fair remuneration when you’ve invested and done research; you don’t know if it’ll bring results, when it’ll bring results, you have to be paid: in short, that’s what the patent is for. At the same time, the vaccine must be made into a global public good; that means financial solidarity between countries. What Emmanuel Macron proposed at the G7 was that as soon as we’re better vaccinated at home, from the spring, we should be able to export a number of doses - give them, to be precise - to countries that don’t have access to vaccines for lack of resources. In that way you combine support for innovation and international solidarity.

When will we be able to - how shall I put it? - honour our commitments, particularly the COVAX strategy? In other words, do just that: deliver to Africa and not adopt the argument “we haven’t got what we need for ourselves yet, why should we give it to them?"

As Mario Draghi is saying!

As he’s saying, in a way, when he says: let’s help ourselves first and wait for the others. Do we really know if that’ll be in six months’ time, in a year, or do we have any timeframe?

I think the best way is to do it step by step. Look at what the French President proposed on Thursday, for example. He said that as an absolute priority we should find 13 million doses. He suggested all the G7 countries do it - the European Union and the G7: 13 million doses by June, in order to vaccinate by then.

And Mario Draghi replied to him: "until we have the doses in Europe, we don’t give them out"!

Yes, and that’s why the President specified "by June"; he also specified, I emphasize, that what we’re talking about, 13 million, is less than 0.5% of the number of doses we’ll have in France, in the G7 and in the European Union by June. I think we’re capable of making this effort and subsequently extending it. But the right response is therefore to do things incrementally. Once again, this solidarity is also in our interest. And so let’s begin with care workers in Africa. This effort of 13 million doses is entirely within reach, as the President argued to the G7. We’re going to continue promoting this to our European colleagues in order to persuade [them], because of course you can’t tell the French people: we’re exporting all our doses to countries that need them. At home first of all, that’s natural, and in Europe first of all, but 13 million doses...

But ultimately, there’s really no question of that!

No! Of course.

There’s never been any question of that!

No, I’m clear about that. We must vaccinate at home first of all. But 13 million doses at G7 and European Union level is less than 0.5% of the doses, it’s feasible; for France that means 500,000 doses by June, at a time when we’ll have more than 75 million doses. So you see it’s something which doesn’t slow down our vaccination campaign, doesn’t take anything away from French people and better protects the world, and therefore France too in the end. (...)

3. Global health - Gender equality/launch of the initiative on the position of women in the health and care sector - Communiqué issued by the Minister for Solidarity and Health (Paris, 26/02/2021)

France, the World Health Organization and the NGO Women in Global Health have officially launched the global initiative on the position of women in the health and care sector during a virtual conference on Thursday 25 February 2021.

Initiative on the position of women in the health and care sector

For months, medical staff worldwide have been making very active and tireless efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring continuity of care. Accounting for 70% of human resources for health, women bear the heaviest burden of these efforts and are most exposed to COVID-19.

A significant disparity is observed worldwide between jobs held by women and men in the health sector. Men make up the majority of specialist doctors and hold most of the leadership positions in health systems governance. In contrast, women working in the health sector have limited access to positions of responsibility and are generally paid less or even not at all. This inequality between women and men working in the health and care sector is acting as a brake on the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC) and health for all.

"Promoting the position of women, who play a crucial role at the heart of our health systems and are often the first to be affected by growing inequality, is more necessary than ever. Such is our ambition, translated into action through this initiative which is a further step towards tangible gender equality in the health and care sector, a few months ahead of the Generation Equality Forum", said Olivier Véran, Minister for Solidarity and Health.

"COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on inequality between the sexes as regards leadership, pay and working conditions for women working in the health and care sector, who provide health services to around five billion people. Women in Global Health is proud to partner this initiative, which we believe can provide a new, well-deserved social contract for women in the sector", said Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director of Women in Global Health.

The pandemic has also highlighted profound inequalities - between women and men in particular - within and between countries. The purpose of the initiative on the position of women in the health and care sector is to argue at international level for the advancement of women and girls in the health and care sector. It is part of the United Nations’ Generation Equality campaign, which supports efforts to promote gender equality and is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action.

Mobilizing the international community through concrete action

The initiative aims to promote the introduction of practical measures to:

  1. Increase the proportion of women in leadership positions in the health sector;
  2. Get unpaid work recognized and reduce pay gaps between men and women;
  3. Protect women against sexual harassment and violence at work;
  4. Guarantee safe, decent working conditions.

By joining this coalition and taking part in this initiative, the signatory States and international organizations pledge to work concretely to reduce gender inequality in the health sector, and recognize and value the position of women within health systems.

"We welcome this new initiative with France and have also already collaborated closely with other ministries, particularly those in the areas of education, health and foreign affairs. It is precisely action at this level of political engagement promoting genuine intersectorial collaboration which can make a significant difference in the professional lives of millions of women in the health and care sector", said Dr. Jim Campbell, Director of the Health Workforce Department, WHO.

A series of landmark events leading up to the Generation Equality Forum which is being held by France in Paris in June 2021

Several landmark events will be organized throughout the first half of 2021 to mobilize the international community and rally as many signatories as possible, particularly at the following meetings: the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2021, the World Health Assembly in May 2021 and the Generation Equality Forum which is being held by France in Paris in June 2021.