Official speeches and statements - June 16, 2020
1. Tourism - Recovery of the tourism sector in the run-up to the summer season - Reply by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (excerpt) (Paris - June 9, 2020)
Tourism in France has indeed been hit very hard by the epidemic crisis. Let people be the judge of it: one month of lockdown means 10 to 15 billion euros less in income for the sector. That’s why the President has pinpointed tourism as a national priority. Far from being a mere slogan, this priority is being reflected in strong action and concrete measures. For example, on May 14 an 18-billion euros plan was announced at the cross-ministerial tourism committee: 9 billion euros in direct assistance - maintaining partial activity, extending the solidarity fund - and 9 billion euros in finance and investment to prepare the tourism of tomorrow, a more sustainable and more digital tourism.
Regarding the summer season, we’re working flat out with the various parts of France, in particular the regions. The reason I’ve launched an appeal for a "blue, white and red" summer is precisely to encourage French people to rediscover our land. You can go round the world by touring France; that’s what is tremendous in our country! Along with Atout France, we’ve launched the campaign "This summer I’m visiting France".
As for supporting demand, several regions are working on holiday-voucher schemes. You mentioned the initiative by the Occitanie region, but the regions of Nouvelle-Aquitaine - we’re currently working with its president, Alain Rousset -, Grand-Est and Sud are also considering measures to support the tourism sector. I’m confident that within a few days I’ll be able to announce a State support mechanism that will enable us to add even more breadth to the various initiatives by the regions.
As far as foreign tourists are concerned, I say to them: welcome to France! The issue of borders is clear: we’d like to remove obstacles to movement around Europe from 15 June onwards and welcome international customers to our country at the beginning of July. However, we know the recovery will be very gradual. So it’s right to support tourism professionals longer-term, until the end of the year. That’s the whole purpose of the measures we’ve taken - maintaining partial activity and extending the solidarity fund -, which will allow us to provide a view of the way ahead over time.
Regarding transport, French people are currently being offered promotional fares, particularly by the SNCF. Let me also remind you that the annual holiday ticket paid in holiday vouchers allows people to enjoy a 50% reduction on the usual fare. Other, ad-hoc arrangements/measures have also been put in place, including tickets for under 49 euros.
On motorways, allow me to finish with Didier Barbelivien and this hit from the 1980s: Quitter l’autoroute [Leave the motorway]! It’s time to get back to our good A and B roads to rediscover France’s gems. (...)
2. Health - Inclusive alliance formed by France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy agrees a memorandum of understanding with AstraZeneca for buying vaccines - Press release issued by the Ministry for Solidarity and Health and the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Paris - June 13, 2020)
As part of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, access to a vaccine will be an essential step towards guaranteeing the protection of our fellow citizens against the pandemic returning. France allied itself with Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance in order to join forces in discussions with pharmaceutical laboratories aimed at guaranteeing supply for the European population as a whole and supporting vaccine projects in development, with a view to global access to the vaccine.
Olivier Véran, Minister for Solidarity and Health, and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of State attached to the Minister of the Economy and Finance, today announce the signing of an initial agreement with the Alliance for the purchase of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the AstraZeneca laboratory provides for AstraZeneca, if its project succeeds, to supply the Alliance with up to 400 million vaccine doses at cost price, which will make it possible to vaccinate those at risk throughout the European Union, with initial deliveries scheduled before the end of 2020.
The agreements concluded by the Alliance countries are intended to serve all European Union member countries and other partner countries wishing to join the initiative. The negotiations were conducted in close coordination with the European Commission and will continue with other pharmaceutical laboratories so that the chances of swiftly having an adequate quantity of vaccine at the best price are maximized.
This contract, from which AstraZeneca has pledged to make no profit, is part of France and the European Union’s efforts to make the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, accessible to the largest number of people. AstraZeneca has also pledged to supply more than two billion doses at cost price worldwide.
Olivier Véran, Minister for Solidarity and Health, said: "This agreement enables us to secure access to a potential vaccine as a first insurance policy, in a context of strong international competition. We’ll have to continue these negotiations with our partners to reduce the risk of depending on a single project, while securing access to other potential vaccines, and closely follow the scientific progress of the work."
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of State attached to the Minister of the Economy and Finance, said: "Under this Memorandum of Understanding, AstraZeneca has pledged to establish a localized supply chain for the vaccine in Europe. If the vaccine is scientifically validated, it will enable us to guarantee our fellow citizens access to it, with tens of millions of doses due to be delivered before the end of 2020. We’ll continue discussions with other laboratories to increase the chances of quickly having an effective vaccine for France and Europe."
I would like to thank Mr. Pedersen and Ms. Ghazi for their presentations.
More than a hundred thousand people in Syria are today imprisoned in the regime’s jails. The latest amnesty announced by the regime cannot be taken seriously.
The lack of progress on the issue of the disappeared persons also remains one of the main sources of suffering for the Syrian people.
This Council must unite in response to the Special Envoy’s call to release prisoners and facilitate access to detention centers. It is urgent to move beyond the current prisoner exchange logic.
Time has come to work on a broader political process that meets the expectations of the Syrian civil society.
The paralysis of the work of the Constitutional Committee eight months after its creation is appalling. After months of obstruction, for which the regime bears sole responsibility, it is urgent that discussions with the Special Envoy resume to prepare a meeting in Geneva as soon as possible.
The regime’s repression of protests in the south of the country in recent weeks also clearly shows that it continues to propose repressive solutions to political problems.
In the face of instability and COVID-19, the priority must be to establish a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire under UN supervision, in response to the appeal of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy.
In the North-West, the Russian-Turkish truce agreement remains fragile. The fight against terrorist groups cannot justify the resumption of an offensive by the regime and its allies nor violations of international law.
In both the North-West and North-East, humanitarian aid must reach people in need. In this context, the cross-border mechanism remains irreplaceable.
France will continue with its partners to combat the resurgence of Daesh in the center of the country.
Finally, the instability and serious economic crisis in Syria underscores the urgency of a political solution.
The economic crisis in Syria is the result of chronic corruption and of the regime’s refusal to compromise. The European sanctions are focused on individuals and entities that participate in the repression and profit from the war economy. Sanctions also have mechanisms to safeguard humanitarian access. The European Union is among the main contributors of humanitarian assistance, including in the zone-controlled areas.
Because it’s the only way to bring back stability, I call on the Special Envoy to work on a political process that encompasses all elements of resolution 2254: implementation of confidence-building measures to create a secure and neutral environment; preparation of free and fair elections under United Nations supervision, to which the Syrian diaspora participates.
Elections that do not meet the criteria set out in resolution 2254 could in no way be recognized as legitimate by this Council.
Finally, until a credible political process is not firmly under way, France and the EU will not finance reconstruction in Syria.