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G7/G8 Summit Meetings

SOMMET D'EVIAN 2003

Introductory remarks by the President of the French Republic at the working meeting with the trade union organizations held as part of the G8 Summit preparations, Elysée Palace, 25 April 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would first like to welcome you all to this preparatory meeting for the G8 Summit in Evian.


This meeting is part of a consultation process. The G8 must not be a closed forum; it must be - and although this isn't always easy, it strives to be - attentive to the concerns of the various segments of society. This is one of the challenges it faces.

It is especially important that the social partners be involved in preparing G8 Summits, quite simply because they play an essential role in affirming the social dimension of globalization.

For a long time now I have been engaged in the struggle for humanized globalization. It was one of the main issues at the G8 Summit held in Lyon in 1996. I had a very wide-ranging, in-depth discussion a few weeks ago with the Director General of the ILO, Mr. Somavia, and the co-chairs of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, President Halonen of Finland and President Mkapa of Tanzania, and it brought home to me how much remains to be done to make these consultations broad-based  and effective.


Therefore I am very happy to be meeting today with the leaders of the trade union organizations of the G8 countries, convened at the instigation of the trade union advisory committee to the OECD, TUAC.

I know that you have issued a joint declaration on the G8 Summit and it is a sound and sensible one which contains, I wish to emphasize, very good proposals.

So with your agreement, before giving you the floor for statements which I hope will be as forthright as possible, I would like to say a few words about what France hopes the Evian Summit will achieve with respect to five issues - growth, responsibility, solidarity, security and democracy.

First, the need for growth.

We see that we are going through a period of uncertainty and that growth rates are lower than forecast, and this has obviously had negative consequences, especially for employment.

Thus I believe that our first goal in Evian will be to issue a call for economic growth. The aim is to make everyone aware that we must behave in ways conducive to growth, that we know this and stand together, and that this is the goal. The message will be in several parts:

First, we must show the determination of the eight countries to work together to adopt converging monetary, fiscal and economic policies and thereby take co-ordinated and concerted action to stimulate recovery and create jobs.


Second, again with growth and the growth message in mind, we must continue the reforms that will enable us sustainably to boost our economies' contribution to growth. This applies especially to the European countries, but it also applies to the others. As far as the French government is concerned, it has undertaken major reforms aimed at making the State more efficient, that is enhance cost-efficiency in order to better control the volume of payroll taxes and to better distribute them, with a focus on employers' contributions which weigh on employment.

These reforms are, I believe, a prerequisite for long-term competitiveness and  for the strength of a society striving to create jobs, and the reforms must naturally be carried out with the constant goal of equitably guaranteeing the rights of all.

These reforms must also generate improved job growth and offer everyone the right to life-long learning. I believe that the best way to protect all our citizens from unemployment is to give them the opportunity to acquire new skills, whatever the size of their company and whatever their sector. Until such time as the right to life-long learning is guaranteed to all employees, I repeat all employees, our social protection systems will remain incomplete.


The third pillar of the call for growth is to ensure that progress is made in the operation of the international financial markets whose failure to function properly can be very harmful and potentially damaging to everyone, especially to workers.

Finally, I believe it is crucial that we demonstrate our commitment to making progress in the trade round opened in Doha in order to ensure the success of the meeting in Cancun in September.

Therefore the first principle is that we must make a more concrete call for growth.

Second principle: responsibility.

Responsibility incumbent on all the players in the international economy - this is a subject particularly relevant to your concerns.

To cope with phenomena which have adversely affected economic confidence, I have proposed that we adopt in Evian a declaration which reaffirms the values which we share and which underpin a responsible market economy.

In the wake of a number of - notably accounting and financial - scandals, the idea is to reaffirm our confidence in an economic system that is balanced and without excess - a market economy in which the players commit themselves to responsible behaviour and meet that commitment. This involves corporate governance, ethics, conflicts of interest and social and environmental responsibility.


In the economic sphere, this will entail concrete action on corporate good governance, transparency of transactions, natural resource management, the fight against corruption and the fight against tax havens.

In the field of ethics and social and environmental responsibility, this will mean fostering the same responsible behaviour at international level that we support within each of our countries. This involves respect for human rights by all partners, respect for the labour rights set out by the ILO and compliance with the rules and adoption of vigilant behaviour in matters relating to the environment.

As part of these consultations to prepare Evian, I have personally met with many French companies to encourage them to adopt the Global Compact approach initiated by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has in that context given a special assignment to Jérôme Monod, a French citizen who also works with me. To my way of thinking the responsibility is clearly first and foremost incumbent on States, which define the rules of the game. But there must also be a general consensus and that must be pushed.

This call for responsibility will have a particular focus on the environment. Given the impossibility, unfortunately resulting from the position taken by the United States, of settling a number of immediate issues such as those relating to the Kyoto Protocol, I have proposed that the G8 at least take a longer-term approach to sustainable development by approving research and innovation programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, as well as protecting biodiversity, since it has likewise not been possible to obtain signature of the protocol on biodiversity.

Third imperative: solidarity

As everyone knows, economic globalization assumes and requires the globalization of solidarity. We must work to eliminate the poverty affecting more than two billion men, women and children world-wide - this is both a moral and political imperative.

In Evian, we will in particular reaffirm our support for the partnership proposed within the NEPAD. And I thank Mr. Camdessus, who is the mainspring of this breakthrough which will I hope bear fruit, for being here today. Success requires, of course, strong mobilization of the African Heads of State - and that exists. By working together and being more attentive to civil society - I refer in particular to the contacts established by Mr. Camdessus with all African trade union organizations - we will help to make possible the economic take-off of Africa, which we may have occasion to further discuss later, and in particular to replace a policy based on the concept of aid with a policy based on the concept of partnership.


We will also, I hope, be adopting a strategy to achieve by 2015 the Millennium Goal reaffirmed in Johannesburg concerning water - that is, halving the number of people without access to drinking water and sewage. This is an ambitious goal and a necessary undertaking, but it represents a substantial additional investment of some 100 billion dollars every year between now and 2015 - naturally, 100 billion dollars of either public or private sector origin. I would add that the idea here is not to impose an economic management model but rather for each country to commit to good water management, choosing the system best suited to its specific circumstances, its culture, etc.

The solidarity effort must also be brought to bear on the issue of health care, by ensuring the long-term funding of the Global Fund to fight AIDS and by overcoming the unconscionable failure to provide access to drugs.

Another theme of the summit will be security.

The G8 has mobilized against terrorism. It must continue this action of course and it goes without saying that France will be attentive, within this indispensable process, to respect for Human Rights.

The overarching key issue is democracy.

Globalization will only be accepted if each person sees a better, broader, more promising future in it. I decided to initiate these wide-ranging consultations in order to explain to the various partners what we are doing to control and humanize this globalization; we all know that globalization is a foregone conclusion, and although it brings the promise of great wealth as a result of its ability to foster trade, it also entails risks, the effects of which are already apparent, and in particular the risk of a two-speed global society, obviously the opposite of what we are aiming for and determined to achieve.

It is in this spirit that I thought that the G8 countries, which account for most of the world's wealth, should not focus exclusively on their own concerns but should rather begin to open up to the concerns of others. This is obvious in the case of civil society, but it is also self-evident when it comes to other countries which have the impression of being somewhat sidelined despite their broad responsibilities and major problems.


This led to the idea of inviting a dozen countries to Evian to convey, if only briefly - and here it is the underlying principle which is perhaps most important - their view of the way the planet, the world, is being and should be managed. Of course choices had to be made. They were based on a number of criteria which, overall, have enabled us to bring together, with the eight and the twelve countries that will be attending, something like 80% of the world's wealth and 80% of its population. This is not an end in itself, but rather a step in what I consider the direction that we need to take if we are to gradually establish a planetary democracy. We will, after all, achieve a human solution to the problems of globalization only if we put all this together in a planetary democratic system in which multilateralism is recognized and institutions are perhaps modernized but in any case confirmed and consolidated.

These were a few thoughts that I wanted to put to you, at the start, to show you the spirit in which we are preparing Evian and explain why we set such store by this consultation with civil society.

Source: G8 Envian 2003

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