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Video conference of Development Ministers: Statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell following the meeting

Brussels, 23/11/2020 - 16:05, UNIQUE ID: 201123_13
Statements by the HR/VP

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Good evening,

Today at the Foreign Affairs Council with the Ministers of Development, we discussed a very pressing topic: the issue of debt.

Many countries already facing a difficult situation, with unsustainable debt levels, suffer from the worsening effect by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the middle-income countries that now face risks of debt distress.

Together, with Ministers, we agreed that we need to avoid a situation where some countries in insolvency might trigger a full-fledged debt crisis, with even more devastating consequences for the global economy. Fast action is needed and the clock is ticking. Debt relief -well managed- is in the interest of every one of us.

This requires sound partnerships that start at home: between European Union institutions and Member States, combining the development perspective with those of finance and foreign policy.

We were joined by Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, who underlined the scale and nature of the debt build-up happening around the world and the dangerous interaction between the impact of the pandemic itself, and the economic damage it is inflicting.

We were also joined by the Presidents of the European Investment Bank [Mr Werner Hoyer], the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [Ms Odile Renaud-Basso] and the Chair of the Paris Club [Mr Emmanuel Moulin], important partners in the prevention of a full-fledged debt crisis.

We also discussed how Team Europe can best complement debt relief efforts at multilateral and country level, and to support partner countries in preparing a resilient, sustainable and green recovery.

A holistic approach to debt relief is key. We have to go beyond the question of debt towards a new model of sustainable financing, especially in Africa. We will be counting on our partnership with the IMF.

As a concrete signal of that partnership, the European Union will contribute €183 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to free up fiscal space in 29 countries. This makes the European Union the largest contributor.

We will continue to show solidarity with partner countries, at the very same time as we confront our own enormous challenges. That is what Europe stands for.

We also discussed gender equality, gender equality ahead of the adoption of the Gender Action Plan III tomorrow.

Ministers sent a strong signal: we are determined to accelerate our work towards gender equality and to safeguard and promote the Human Rights of women and girls. We will do that in all areas of European Union external action including trade, the Green Deal and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

We call on all our partners to support us in this endeavour, as cooperation at multilateral, regional and local levels is critical to achieve the objectives we have set up.

Ministers agreed that the European Union will continue to lead by example, and that a gender-responsive leadership is the new normal in the European Union. We here at the European Union puts the rights, protection and voice of women and girls globally, at the front and centre through concrete action. This is what the Development Ministers have today discussed and agreed.

Thank you.

Link to the video: