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G7/G8 Summit Meetings

SOMMET D'EVIAN 2003

Working Meeting on the G8 between the President of the French Republic and the Heads of Employer Organisations and Company Heads
Elysée Palace, 14 April 2003

On 14 April, the President of the French Republic received the heads of national and international employer organisations (including the members of the Commission Nationale de Négociation Collective) and company heads, for a working session. The meeting was the first in a series of consultations in preparation for the Evian Summit. These consultations will involve the heads of G8 union organisations, multilateral organisations and non-governmental organisations over the coming weeks.

The President presented the priorities of the French Chair of the G8 and the targeted results for the Evian Summit, based on the three major topics of growth, solidarity and security.

The President of the Republic noted the current economic uncertainty and stressed that the primary goal of the Evian Summit should be to send a message of growth and demonstrate the will of the Eight to work together on suitable economic policies and structural reforms to stimulate recovery and long-term growth.

An important element of this strategy is to make progress with the round of trade negotiations launched in Doha. Everyone should show their determination to respect the commitments. The President of the Republic reiterated the proposals he made in this regard at the Africa-France Summit in February 2003.

The participants shared this analysis. They asked for the G8 to send a message of encouragement to economic players and of promotion of entrepreneurship. They also felt it essential to strengthen transatlantic ties. They considered that Europe was not contributing enough to global growth. They deemed it a priority to adopt ambitious structural reforms (pensions and health systems) to step up this growth. The question of deficits was raised with regard to the United States.

The President of the Republic stated his ambition for the Eight meeting in Evian to reaffirm the values underlying the responsible free-market economy and based on principles of corporate governance, absence of conflicts of interest, and social and environmental responsibility. He said that all free-market economy stakeholders should respect these common values. On the subject of business, the President reiterated France's support for the UN Secretary-General's approach: the Global Pact with business leaders. As regards the environment, the President informed the meeting of discussions underway to decide on science, technology and innovation programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity in the long run.

The participants stated their support for these proposals and called for the Evian Summit to embody an "ethical reform of globalisation". The business heads reiterated their commitment to sustainable development and codes of conduct for corporate social responsibility, while emphasising that a voluntary and co-ordinated approach was preferable to regulation in this area. A number of participants prioritised the adoption of concrete measures to increase financial market transparency, for example as regards the action of rating agencies, and the adoption of accounting standards that do not exacerbate financial instability. Europe suffers from having diverse auditing systems: harmonisation would be useful. The participants also mentioned the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative ("publish what you pay") and the fight against corruption.

Another subject addressed was solidarity. The President of the Republic stressed that the solidarity effort is a moral imperative, a political imperative and an economic investment. He reiterated his support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and his determination for Evian to result in the adoption of a strategy to achieve the Millennium and Johannesburg goal of halving the number of people without access to drinking water and sanitation by 2015. He stated that the solidarity effort also concerns the field of health, in terms of guaranteeing sustainable funds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and generously resolving the issue of access by poor countries to essential drugs.

The participants displayed their interest in the new relationship with Africa based on partnership principles developed within the NEPAD framework. A number of participants supported the goals for access to water and stressed the link with pollution and the need for sound management in both Northern and Southern countries.

Lastly, the President addressed the issue of security. Learning from the lessons of the tragic attacks of 11 September, he stated that the G8 should continue to rally against terrorism, adopt new measures to combat the financing of terrorism and step up police and judicial co-operation. He pointed out that Kananaskis had adopted an ambitious programme to prevent terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction and stated that this programme should be implemented at Evian.

To conclude, the President of the Republic stressed his confidence in the will of businesses, creators of wealth and vehicles for innovation, to make their contribution to the G8's effort to control and humanise globalisation.

Source: G8 Envian 2003

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