Official speeches and statements - April 27, 2020
1. COVID-19 - Measures to support restaurants, cafés, hotels and businesses in the tourism, events, sport and culture sectors - Press release issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Paris - April 24, 2020)
The French President, together with Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance, Gérald Darmanin, Minister for Government Action and Public Accounts, and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, held a meeting today, Friday, April 24, with hotel, café, restaurant, tourism and leisure professionals.
Meetings will be organized with culture, communication, events and sports professionals next week.
As part of the economic emergency plan being implemented by the Government, businesses in these sectors have benefited from unprecedented measures.
To take into account the specific situation of hotels, cafés, restaurants and businesses in the tourism, events, sport and culture sectors, the support measures in the economic emergency plan will be maintained and stepped up as follows:
- The opportunity for partial activity will be maintained for these sectors after activity resumes.
- The solidarity fund will also remain open to businesses in these sectors after May. Conditions for accessing it will be extended to those businesses in the sectors concerned which have up to 20 employees and turnovers of €2 million, and the ceiling for subsidies which can be paid under the plan’s second phase will be increased to €10,000.
- Micro-businesses and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in these sectors will be exempted from social security contributions during the lockdown period, from March to June. All these businesses will automatically be exempted, whether or not they have already settled their contributions. ETIs and large businesses in these sectors which are not automatically exempted will be able to obtain long-term deferments of social security and tax contributions and, on a case-by-case basis, request debt cancellations depending on their financial situation.
- In terms of taxation, the Government will talk to local authorities about arrangements for deferring the Corporate Property Tax (CFE) and for exemption from the fixed-rate portion of the tourist tax for 2020.
- Rents and royalties for occupying public places or land due to national lessors (the State and operators) for micro-businesses and SMEs in these sectors will be cancelled for the period of administrative closure. A practical guide will be published for local authorities wishing to do the same.
The Government notes the strong expectations of professionals from the hotel, café and restaurant, tourism and leisure industries about the resumption of their activities. These industries are crucial for the French economy, regions, employment and, more broadly, for promoting France’s influence abroad.
Their activities will be resumed within a framework providing every health safeguard for customers and tourists, as well as employees and entrepreneurs. Health protocols will be developed for each of these sectors and approved by the Government.
The Government is also working on the creation of an investment fund to help these sectors.
Additional measures will be necessary to support the resumption of activities. These measures are being co-designed with professionals from these sectors in the framework of the Comité de filière tourisme [Tourism Industry Committee]. To facilitate their implementation, the Government is engaging in close international cooperation, particularly at the European level.
The Government will review all these matters with professionals from these industries during an Interministerial Tourism Council meeting, which will be held on May 14.
 entreprises de taille intermédiaire are companies with between 250 and 4,999 employees and a turnover of less than €1.5 billion.
I would like to thank USGs DiCarlo and Lacroix for their very informative and insightful briefings. Like the other members of this Council, France strongly condemns the attack and assassination attempt on the Sudanese Prime minister Hamdok last month.
I will be brief and limit my remarks to expressing two concerns and two hopes;
The first concern is the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Sudan. The Sudanese Transition had already to deal with multiple challenges: a deep economic and humanitarian crisis, high expectations from the Sudanese people, the need for political and economic reforms and the ongoing peace process. The Covid pandemic is an additional challenge that requires strong support from the international community, and France expresses its solidarity with the Sudanese population and government in this context. It is necessary that Sudan has full access to international support mechanisms to deal with the pandemic and its consequences. I also hope that the negative impact on UNAMID’s activities and movements can be mitigated effectively.
The second concern is the protection of civilians in Darfur. As we are discussing how and when to close UNAMID and to deploy a special political mission, there are still 2 million IDPs and serious human rights violations continue to be reported. The peace process is ongoing and needs to address the main conflict drivers. The security sector and the local institutions must be reformed and rebuilt. In that context, the protection of civilians in Darfur should remain one of our key priorities in Sudan.
However, today’s Sudan is different from yesterday’s. As the Sudanese celebrated this month the first anniversary of the fall of Omar al-Bashir, there is much to hope for. The first cornerstone of hope is that the political transition has established a new relationship between Khartoum and its international partners, based on trust, dialogue and mutual commitment. We are determined to keep supporting the political transition in Sudan, as well as the ongoing peace talks. As we discuss the modalities and timing of UNAMID’s closure and the planning and establishment of a new mission, the dialogue with the Sudanese authorities is key. We have taken note of the letters sent by Prime Minister Hamdok and we propose to continue engaging the Sudanese authorities in that regard, including on how to address the protection of civilians in Darfur after UNAMID.
The second topic that is a reason for optimism is the mobilization of the African Union in Sudan, which France fully supports. Last year, the AU’s mediation efforts have played a critical role in negotiating a civilian-led government. We cannot succeed without a strong partnership with the AU. We have to be creative and to find a way to design an ad hoc partnership between the follow-on mission and the African Union, taking into consideration the added-value of each institution.
France is ready to engage with the co penholders and hopes for a united Security Council in agreeing a resolution that will serve peace and the best interests of the people of Sudan. I thank you.
I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Zahir Tanin for his briefing. I also welcome the participation in this videoconference of the first deputy prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and of the minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo.
When it comes to Kosovo, one of the utmost priorities for France is the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade, within the framework of the dialogue conducted under the leadership of the European Union. This objective is our compass and I would like to make two remarks in this respect.
First, France welcomes the appointment on April 3 of Miroslav Lajcak as the European Union Special Representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. We fully support the mediation of the European Union, this dispute being a European security issue. We call on the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia to engage with Mr. Lajcak.
Secondly, we welcome the announcement, on April 1st, by the caretaker Government of Kosovo of the full suspension of the 100% tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an important step in the right direction. The flow of goods between Serbia and Kosovo has restarted, which is an important development. We encourage both sides to take further steps to enable the resumption of the EU-led dialogue.
We are aware that the pursuit of this objective is taking place in a difficult context, due to the mobilization of all resources in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis nevertheless shows that cooperation is the best way to fight against common challenges, and I welcome in that respect the cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina on the ground to fight the pandemic, which, we hope, will help to rebuild trust between the parties. In addition, having in mind the political situation in Kosovo, we call on all stakeholders to leave aside their political differences and prioritize the fight against COVID-19.
I also reiterate France’s support for the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which works tirelessly to promote security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and the region. Its work in bringing communities closer together and promoting the women, peace and security agenda is essential and must be commended. These efforts must continue, in conjunction with the initiatives of other regional and international actors, in particular the European Union Rule of Law Mission, EULEX Kosovo.
France is convinced that Serbia and Kosovo have a shared European future. In order to build this future, we will continue to support the reforms needed to consolidate the rule of law and socio-economic development. In support of the EU-led mediation, we will ramp up our efforts to facilitate the conclusion of a comprehensive, final and legally binding agreement between the two parties, which will contribute to the lasting stabilization of the Western Balkans. I thank you.