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Official speeches and statements - May 11, 2020

Published on May 11, 2020

1. United Kingdom - COVID-19 - Telephone conversation between Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - May 10, 2020)

The British Prime Minister and President Macron spoke today.

They stressed the need for close bilateral, European and international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

The leaders spoke about the need to manage the risk of new transmissions arising from abroad, as the rate of coronavirus decreases domestically.

In this regard, the Prime Minister and the President agreed to work together in taking forward appropriate border measures. This cooperation is particularly necessary for the management of our common border.

No quarantine measures would apply to travelers coming from France at this stage; any measures on either side would be taken in a concerted and reciprocal manner. A working group between the two governments will be set up to ensure this consultation throughout the coming weeks.

2. COVID-19 - Launch of a humanitarian airlift to third countries by the EU - Statement by the Spokesperson of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - May 8, 2020)

In response to the health emergency sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, France fully supports the initiative taken by the European Union in conjunction with humanitarian NGOs - particularly French NGOs - and humanitarian actors to launch an airlift to deliver humanitarian personnel and cargo to several countries facing an acute humanitarian crisis, most urgently in Africa but also in Asia and the Middle East.

Introduced by Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, this solidarity-based initiative coordinates the logistical resources of the EU, several member states including France, and numerous humanitarian NGOs belonging to the Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) [Humanitarian Logistical Network].* Its implementation was the topic of a number of discussions between Commissioner Lenarčič, several European foreign ministers, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Amid the suspension of air links as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airlift will make it possible to bring humanitarian personnel and supplies to vulnerable populations, in cooperation with local authorities. The humanitarian supplies being delivered will help prevent and combat the pandemic. This EU initiative will usefully supplement the UN’s humanitarian response plan, and in particular, the World Food Programme’s logistical response plan.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs supports this initiative, which illustrates European solidarity and puts it into practice with respect to the most vulnerable populations facing the Covid-19 pandemic, and facilitates the continuity of humanitarian activities.

Following a meeting in Lyon on May 7 with French NGOs, attended by representatives of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Commissioner Lenarčič accompanied the project’s first flight. An aircraft leased by the European Commission through the Bioport humanitarian association transported humanitarian workers and emergency cargo, including medical supplies provided by French NGOs, from Lyon to Bangui, in the Central African Republic. Two additional flights will carry humanitarian equipment to the CAR in the coming days.

*The Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) [Humanitarian Logistical Network] includes ACTED, Action against Hunger, the French Red Cross, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde, Oxfam Intermón, Plan International, Première Urgence Internationale, and Solidarités International. Several NGOs are working with the RLH to provide a humanitarian response during the Covid-19 pandemic, including Alima, Bioport, CARE, La Chaîne de l’Espoir, Medair, Solidarité Sida, etc.

3. COVID-19 - Joint statement on protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights and promoting gender responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis (Paris - May 6, 2020)

We, the Ministers of South Africa, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Italy, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland , Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom, are honoured to issue this joint statement on behalf of the people and governments of 58 countries: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Humanity is confronted with the unprecedented threat of COVID-19. Around the world, the pandemic is having a devastating impact on health systems, economies and the lives, livelihood and wellbeing of all, particularly older people. Responding effectively to this fast-growing pandemic requires solidarity and cooperation among all governments, scientists, civil society actors and the private sector.

COVID-19 affects women and men differently. The pandemic makes existing inequalities for women and girls, as well as discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty worse and risks impeding the realization of human rights for women and girls. Participation, protection and potential of all women and girls must be at the center of response efforts. These efforts must be gender-responsive and consider different impacts surrounding detection, diagnosis and access to treatment for all women and men.

The restrictive measures designed to limit the spread of the virus around the world, increase the risk of domestic violence, including intimate partner violence. As health and social protection as well as legal systems that protect all women and girls under normal circumstances are weakened or under pressure by the COVID-19, specific measures should be implemented to prevent violence against women and girls. The emergency responses should ensure that all women and girls who are refugees, migrants or internally displaced are protected. Sexual and reproductive health needs, including psychosocial support services, and protection from gender-based violence, must be prioritized to ensure continuity. We must also assume responsibility for social protection and ensure adolescent health, rights and wellbeing during schools close-down. Any restrictions to the enjoyment of human rights should be prescribed by law, and in accordance with international law and rigorously assessed.

We support the active participation and leadership of women and girls at all levels of decision-making, including at community level, through their networks and organizations, to ensure efforts and response are gender-responsive and will not further discriminate and exclude those most at risk.

It is crucial that leaders recognize the central role of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in health emergencies and the need for robust health systems to save lives. In this context, sexual health services are essential. We recommit to the immediate implementation of the UHC political declaration by all. Funding sexual and reproductive health and rights should remain a priority to avoid a rise in maternal and newborn mortality, increased unmet need for contraception, and an increased number of unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections.

Around the world, midwives, nurses and community health workers are essential to contain COVID-19 and they require personal protective equipment. Safe pregnancy and childbirth depend on all these health workers, adequate health facilities, and strict adherence to infection prevention. Respiratory illnesses in pregnant women, particularly COVID-19 infections, must be priority due to increased risk of adverse outcomes. As our national and international supply chains are impacted by this pandemic, we recommit to providing all women and girls of reproductive age with reproductive health commodities. And we call on governments around the world to ensure full and unimpeded access to all sexual and reproductive health services for all women and girls.

We welcome the multilateral efforts, including by the UN, including UNFPA and UN Women, WHO, the World Bank and IMF, and regional development banks, as well as the G7 and G20 declarations, towards a coherent and global response to COVID-19. We encourage them all in their efforts with national governments and other partners to ensure an effective response and assurance of the continuation of essential health services and rights.

We must coordinate our efforts in this global health crisis. We support the UN General Assembly resolution entitled Global Solidarity to fight COVID-19. And we encourage all governments, the private sector, civil society, philanthropists and others to join us in supporting the emergency response, particularly in the most vulnerable countries, and to give full effect to the global commitment to universal access to health care.

Joint Statement by:

H.E. Ms. Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development of South Africa
H.E. Mr. Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden
H.E. Mr. Gent Cakaj, Acting Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs of Albania
H.E. Mr. Felipe Carlos Solá, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Worship of Argentina
H.E. Hon. Marise Payne, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Minister of Women of Australia
H.E. Mr. Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Development Cooperation of Belgium
H.E. Ms. Karen Longaric Rodríguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia
H.E. Ms. Bisera Turkovic, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Ministers & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina
H.E. Ms. Maritza Rosabal Peña Minister of Education, Family & Social Inclusion of Cabo Verde
H.E. Ms. Karina Gould, Minister for International Development of Canada
H.E. Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus
H.E. Mr. Tomas Petrícek, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
H.E. Mr. Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark
H.E. Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children & Poverty Alleviation of Fiji
H.E. Mr. Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation & Foreign Trade of Finland
H.E. Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs of France
H.E. Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany
H.E. Mr. Nikos Dendias, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece
H.E. Ms. Diene Keita, Minister for International Cooperation & Regional Integration of Guinea
H.E. Ms. Emanuela Del Re Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of Italy
H.E. Ms. Ilze Vinkele, Minister of Health of Latvia
H.E. Ms. Claudine Aoun, President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women of Lebanon
H.E. Mr. Gbehzohngar Milton Findley Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia,
H.E. Ms. Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein
H.E. Mr. Franz Fayot, Minister for Cooperation and Humanitarian Action of Luxembourg
H.E. Mr. Tehindrazanarivelo Djacoba A. S. Oliva, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Madagascar
H.E. Mr. Srđan Darmanović, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro
H.E. Ms. Doreen Sioka, Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare of Namibia
H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade & Development Co-operation of the Netherlands
H.E. Rt. Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand
H.E. Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia
H.E. Mr. Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development of Norway
H.E. Ms. Teresa Ribeiro, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal
H.E. Mr. Cornel Feruță, State Secretary for Global Affairs and Diplomatic Strategies within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania
H.E. Ms. Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, Minister without Portfolio responsible for Demography and Population Policy of Serbia
H.E. Ms. Arancha González Laya, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union & Cooperation of Spain
H.E. Dr. Ignazio Cassis, Foreign Minister of Switzerland
H.E. Hon. Simon Kofe, Minister of Justice, Communications, and Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu
H.E. Ms. Liz Sugg, Minister for International Development & the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom

and the governments of Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Tunisia, Ukraine and Uruguay.

4. Brexit - Defense cooperation / France / United Kingdom - Reply by the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a written question in the National Assembly (Paris - May 5, 2020)

1 - The negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on their future relations, first, and, second, the bilateral relationship between France and the United Kingdom in the framework of the Lancaster House Treaty, are two very distinct subjects which are not meant to interfere with each other.

2 - The withdrawal agreement, which came into force on January 31, 2020, allowed the United Kingdom to exit the EU in an orderly way, including a transition period lasting until at least December 31, 2020, during which EU law continues to apply. This period must allow us to define the terms of the future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom when it becomes a third State, in the framework of negotiations between the two parties. Security cooperation is one of the main components of the negotiations, begun on March 2, 2020. With a view to these negotiations, the EU defined its principles and objectives through the Council’s adoption on February 25, 2020 of a mandate which sets the road map for the European negotiating team, led by Michel Barnier within the European Commission. Regarding security, the mandate envisages the establishment of a "broad, comprehensive and balanced" partnership, taking into account "geographic proximity and evolving threats, including serious international crime, terrorism, cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns, hybrid threats, the erosion of the rules-based international order and the resurgence of State-based threats." The desired partnership has both an external dimension, through cooperation in the area of foreign policy, security and defense, and an internal dimension in terms of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including through operational cooperation with the Europol and Eurojust agencies, "in line with arrangements for the cooperation with third countries set out in relevant Union legislation." On March 18, 2020, the Commission published a draft agreement which lays down these lines of approach. The draft devotes a whole section to security cooperation, covering the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, cyber security and data exchanges (Passenger Name Record, PNR). Two chapters are dedicated to cooperation with Europol and Eurojust. At the same time, the draft includes provisions relating to foreign policy, security and defense, opening up the possibility of involvement in EU missions and operations, as well as provisions relating to sanctions, intelligence exchanges, space cooperation and the development of defense capabilities.

3 - In the United Kingdom, the government published a document entitled "The Future Relationship with the EU - The UK’s Approach to Negotiations", which presents the British party’s guidelines and objectives in its negotiations with the European Union. The British party says it is in favor of police and judicial cooperation under certain conditions. On the other hand, unlike the EU, the United Kingdom does not envisage institutionalized arrangements relating to foreign policy, security and defense.

4 - The starting positions are therefore different. Following the first negotiating session from March 2 to 5, 2020, Michel Barnier thus highlighted the difficulty, for judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters, posed by Britain’s refusal to commit formally to continuing to implement the European Convention on Human Rights or recognize the CJEU’s role in interpreting European law.

5 - As far as France is concerned, it will remain committed to realizing a partnership which is commensurate with the shared security challenges and is both ambitious and respects EU law and the principles defined by the 27’s heads of State and government since the start of the negotiations with the United Kingdom.

6 - As regards the bilateral relationship between France and the United Kingdom, the Lancaster House Agreement of 2010 sets the seal on the strategic partnership between the two countries, of which it remains the cornerstone. The treaty has allowed many advances to be made, making it possible to strengthen our collective capabilities and foster the integration of our armed forces, our intelligence services and our diplomatic and development bodies. In the bilateral relationship we would like to preserve, France and the United Kingdom must continue taking this balanced approach, including on sensitive issues. It is in their interest and it is their shared determination, when it comes to defense and security. The United Kingdom and France are Europe’s two leading defense powers, with independent nuclear deterrents and, in terms of force projection, full spectrum armed forces able to deploy and operate, alone or with Allies and partners, across the world on land, at sea, in the air, and increasingly in cyberspace. The 10th anniversary of the Lancaster House Treaty on the occasion of the next bilateral summit scheduled in France will allow us to mark a new beginning by relaunching this enduring partnership, building on the previous summit in Sandhurst, held in January 2018. This is the ambition of France and the United Kingdom in their work, equally determined to deepen their joint capabilities, their operational cooperation and the coordination of their policies, as testified by the scaling-up of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) which should be fully operational this year. The United Kingdom therefore remains an essential bilateral partner, particularly on defense, security and intelligence, with which we intend to continue developing bonds of trust.