Jun 14, 2021
Boris Johnson G7 Speech Transcript 2021
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech at the 2021 G7 Summit on June 13, 2021. England was the host country for the summit this year. Read the full transcript of Johnson’s speech here.
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Boris Johnson: (00:07)
Good afternoon, everybody. This summit was the first gathering of G7 leaders, in fact, the first gathering of pretty much any leaders in almost two years. I know that the world was looking to us to reject some of the selfishness and nationalistic approaches that have marred the initial global response to the pandemic and to channel all our diplomatic, economic, and scientific might into defeating COVID for good. I do hope that we have lived up to some of the most optimistic of hopes and predictions. I should say I’m sorry to hear that owing to their preexisting commitments, the England football team are not able to watch this press conference live in the way they would like to. But I hope that following their resounding victory, they will be able to catch up on the triumphs of the G7 later.
Boris Johnson: (01:02)
A week ago, I asked my fellow leaders to help in preparing and providing the doses we need to vaccinate the whole world by the end of 2022. I’m very pleased to announce that this weekend, leaders have pledged over one billion doses either directly or through funding to COVAX. That includes 100 million from the UK to the world’s poorest countries, which is another, another big step towards vaccinating the world. That’s in addition to everything scientists and governments and the pharmaceutical industry have done so far to roll out one of the largest vaccination programs in history.
Boris Johnson: (01:48)
Here I want to mention in particular the role of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, the world’s most popular vaccine, developed 250 miles from where I’m standing today by scientists who have rightly been given honors by the queen this weekend. Today over half a billion people are safe because of the development and production of that vaccine, funded, I may add, by the UK government, and that number is rising every day. It’s popular, of course, because it’s being sold at cost to the world, and it was designed for ease of use in mind. Because of that act of generosity by AstraZeneca, who, just to reiterate, are making zero profit on the production of that vaccine, millions more vaccines have been rolled out to the poorest countries in the world. In fact, 96% of the vaccines delivered by COVAX in the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme have been Oxford AstraZeneca.
Boris Johnson: (02:52)
But this weekend, our discussions went far beyond defeating the pandemic. We looked towards the global recovery, the great global recovery countries have committed to lead, and we were clear that we all need to build back better in a way that delivers for all our people and for the people of the world. That means preventing a pandemic like this from ever happening again, [inaudible 00:03:13] by establishing a global pandemic radar, which will spot new diseases before they get the chance to spread. It means ensuring that our future prosperity benefits all of the citizens of our countries and all the citizens of the world.
Boris Johnson: (03:28)
At the G7 summit this weekend, my fellow leaders helped the Global Partnership for Education, an organization working to make sure that every child in the world is given the chance of a proper education, reach half of its five-year fundraising goal, including 430 million pound donation from the UK. It’s an international disgrace that some children in the world are denied the chance to learn and reach their full potential, and I’m very, very pleased that the G7 came together to support that cause, because educating all children, particularly girls, is one of the easiest ways to lift countries out of poverty and help them rebound from the coronavirus crisis. With just one additional year of school, a girl’s future earnings can increase by 20%. I’m proud that G7 countries have agreed to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more reading by the end of primary school in the next five years. The money that we raised this week is a fantastic start.
Boris Johnson: (04:37)
But of course the world cannot have a prosperous future if we don’t work together to tackle climate change. Later this year, the UK will host the COP26 summit, which will galvanize global action on fighting climate change and create a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren. G7 countries account for 20% of global carbon emissions, and we were clear this weekend that action has to start with us. Carbis Bay is one of the most beautiful places in the world, as you can see, and it was a fitting setting for the first-ever net zero G7 summit. While it’s fantastic that every one of the G7 countries has pledged to wipe out our contributions to climate change, we need to make sure we’re achieving that as fast as we can and helping developing countries at the same time.
Boris Johnson: (05:33)
What unites the countries gathered here this weekend, not just of the G7, but Australia, India, South Africa, and South Korea, who have joined us, and I should say in India’s case joined us virtually, are not just resolved to tackle climate change, but also our democratic values. It’s not good enough for us just to rest on our laurels and talk about how important those values are. This isn’t about imposing our values on the rest of the world. What we as the G7 need to do is demonstrate the benefits of democracy and freedom and human rights to the rest of the world, and we can partly achieve that by the greatest feat in medical history, vaccinating the world. We can do that by working together to stop the devastation that the coronavirus has produced from ever occurring again, and we can do that by showing the value of giving every girl in the world access to 12 years of quality education. We can also do that by coming together as the G7 and helping the world’s poorest countries to develop themselves in a way that is clean and green and sustainable.
Boris Johnson: (06:51)
Before I go to the media who are just here, I want to thank finally the police, everyone who helped organize this summit and I think all the people not just of Carbis Bay, who certainly helped us put the carbs into Carbis Bay, but everybody involved, all the wonderful people of Cornwall for their hospitality. It’s been a fantastic summit, and I know that all the other delegations would want to express their thanks as well, because they communicated that to me. Anyway, let’s go over to Beth [inaudible 00:07:31].
Prime Minister, I’m going to ask you two questions, if I may-
Boris Johnson: (07:37)
… one on COVID and one on the summit. On COVID, you gave very heavy hints of a delay yesterday when you said your objective was to give the vaccination program the legs, the impetus, the speed it needs to beat the spread of the virus. So far, 44% of the population have had two doses. What percentage of the population need to be double vaccinated before we can proceed with stage four of unlocking, and how long do you think it will take? On the summit, you said in a recent interview the Brexit lemon had been sucked dry, but it has left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth at this summit, hasn’t it? Instead of building global alliances, you’ll move them farther apart from allies, and you seem to have provoked a diplomatic row now, too, with France. Do you regret blowing up the Brexit around some of your remarks at this summit?
Boris Johnson: (08:39)
First of all, Beth, on COVID, because I know a lot of people will be thinking very much about that, I’ve got to repeat what I said yesterday. We’re continuing to look at the data. No final decision has been taken, and the right time to fill everybody in on what we’re going to do with step four, with June the 21st is tomorrow, as I’ve said. That’s when we’ll be putting out the whole package of information so that everybody can see it together. I hope colleagues will understand that. That is, I think, the best way of handling that today.
[crosstalk 00:09:17]. [inaudible 00:09:17].
Boris Johnson: (09:17)
Can I just respectfully just say I know that you will have lots of detailed questions and suggestions on COVID? I think probably we don’t want to get it out in dribs and drabs, if I may. What we’ll do is be setting all our info tomorrow, because I think people want to see the whole package. But on your second point, which was about Brexit, actually, I can tell you that the vast, vast majority of the conversations that we’ve had over the last three or four days have been about-
Boris Johnson: (10:02)
Three or four days have been about other subjects, and there has been a fantastic degree of harmony between the leaders of our countries. If you look at some of the things, they come together to agree in a billion more doses, a billion more vaccines. Everyone agreed to phase out the use of not just supporting coal around the world early, but to phase out the use of coal in their own production. They agreed that they would have 30% of their land and 30% of their seas protected consecrated to nature by 2030 to set a 100-day target for the production of new vaccines after the arrival of a new variant, a new Atlantic charter, a plan to build back better for the world. That was what took up our our time. I don’t think that really, I could have asked for a more cooperative or a more energetic spirit from our friends.
[crosstalk 00:11:12] on Brexit though, your foreign secretary said this morning on television, that he found President Macron’s remarks on GBNI offensive. That’s what your foreign secretary said at the G7. Are you telling me that it’s not a diplomatic route?
Boris Johnson: (11:29)
What I’m saying is that we will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK, but actually what happened at this summit was that there was a colossal amount of work on subjects that had absolutely nothing to do with Brexit and together with our European friends and partners, we’re launching all sorts of projects with it, for the benefit of the world. We will sort that out, but I think I’m going to stick to what I’ve said yesterday. Okay, good. Who is going next? Robert Peston, ITV.
Robert Peston: (12:10)
You would say that climate change is the most serious issue facing the world, but there doesn’t appear to be a collective agreement yet on a binding timetable for concrete actions on issues like eliminating unabated coal mining or petrol cars. Why is it proving so difficult to get a formal timetable for these important steps in terms of combating climate change?
Boris Johnson: (12:39)
Robert Peston: (12:39)
Boris Johnson: (12:40)
Go on, go on.
Robert Peston: (12:42)
The former prime minister Gordon Brown has described the billion doses of vaccine as a moral failure. He said because it’s just not enough vaccine for poorer countries. Finally, did you have an opportunity to explain to President Macron that Northern Ireland is as much part of the United Kingdom as to lose is part of France?
Boris Johnson: (13:03)
Okay. Well, on the last point, I repeat what I said to Beth. Of course, we make the point continuously that we’re all part of one, great indivisible United Kingdom. It’s the job of the UK government to uphold that as you’d expect, but on your point about the vaccines. You’ve talked about a moral, I think a moral failure to supply more than …
Robert Peston: (13:36)
Boris Johnson: (13:36)
I really must reject. This is another billion made up of a massive contribution by the United States, other friends. The UK put in another 100 million. This is June to June. From now till next June. Don’t forget, that this vaccine has literally only been invented very, very recently. These vaccines have only come on stream very recently, and already of the 1.5 billion vaccines that have been distributed around the world, I think people in this country should be very proud that half a billion of them are as a result of the actions taken by the UK government in doing that deal with the Oxford scientists and AstraZeneca to distribute it at cost. The UK has put in 1.6 billion into funding Gavi, 548 million into funding Covax. We are doing everything we can to distribute vaccines as fast as possible.
Robert Peston: (14:37)
[crosstalk 00:14:37] from the UK? It was [crosstalk 00:14:39].
Boris Johnson: (14:39)
A criticism of the world.
Robert Peston: (14:43)
It’s collectively that the G7 have the mind, they have the vaccines [crosstalk 00:14:45] … As you know, I’ve talked to the head of Covax and Gavi, they say we are way behind schedule.
Boris Johnson: (14:50)
We’re going flat out. We’re going flat out. I think we’re producing vaccines as fast as we can and distributing them as fast as we can. Clearly, there is much more to do. We set a target to vaccinate the world by 20, by the end of next year, and it will be done thanks to the efforts of very largely thanks to the efforts of the countries who’ve come here to today. Now, your other question was-
Robert Peston: (15:20)
[crosstalk 00:15:20] [inaudible 00:15:20].
Boris Johnson: (15:21)
Yes. Look, I think the G7 who have made great commitments on climate change. I mentioned phasing out coal. They’re also agreeing to stop the support, the subsidy of coal mining around the world. Everybody here at this meeting agreed to, all the G7 I should say, agree to net zero by 2050, plus nationally-determined contributions by 2030. They all made significant steps forward towards the $100 billion we’re going to need by COP to support the developing world in tackling climate change. Because we, as the rich nations of the earth, we need to build our credibility with those countries in asking them to make cuts in CO2 because this country, which started the industrial revolution, is responsible for a huge budget of carbon that’s already in the atmosphere.
Boris Johnson: (16:29)
We we’re now asking other countries to make a change. That’s why this government put 11.6 billion into climate finance. This G7 summit actually, you saw many other countries are stepping up to the plate and making very big, and the EU, making very big commitments. I’m not going to pretend that our work is done. Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, who is the co-chair of COP, Antonio Gutierrez, the secretary general of the UN and I, we’re going to be on everybody’s case between now and the summer and on into the autumn to get those commitments and to make sure that we get the world into the right place for COP. I think we made a very good start today. Laura Kuenssberg, BBC.
Laura Kuenssberg: (17:16)
Thank you, Prime Minister. Forgive me, I’m going to ask you about this again, because the foreign secretary was very happy to talk about this this morning. Viewers might find it slightly strange that you don’t want to talk about it now. Were you offended by President Macron’s comments in your meeting yesterday about Northern Ireland’s place in the UK? You’ve listed what you believe to be the achievements of this summit, but health and environmental campaigners are really clear that they hoped it would go further. Do you wish you’d been able to push your fellow leaders to give even greater commitments?
Boris Johnson: (17:46)
Well, thanks very much, Laura, for inviting me to answer that question for the third time, but what I will say is that I think it’s the job of a government of the United Kingdom to uphold the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom. I think it was a point I made to you yesterday and actually, that subject is, I think I said to Beth, just now occupied vestigial, vanishingly small proportion of our deliberations. On the general criticism of the summit that you relay from sources unknown, I mean, $2.5 billion pledged for girls’ education already. That’s not half bad. That’s not half bad. Every country, as I said to Robert, increasing their pledges for global climate finance. I’ve mentioned the 30% for the 30-30 by 2030 pledge on the oceans and on all of that. Another billion vaccines, and so on. To say nothing of a new Atlantic charter and a new global campaign to help countries around the world to build back better, cleaner and greener. The build back better for the world agenda. I think it’s been … And there is much more else besides, so I think it’s been a highly productive few days. Harry Kohler, The Sun.
Harry Kohler: (19:18)
Thank you, Prime Minister. You said last year that pangolin scales being used in demented Chinese medicine, may be the cause of COVID. Is that still your view and what have you learned this week from fellow world leaders about the lab leak theory? Do you agree with Dominic Raab? Who said this morning, he doesn’t believe it. Some news from Wembley, some of the crowd just booed the England team after taking the knee. Can we get your reaction to that please? Then in likely event that Gareth Southgate was to call you up to play for England, would you personally take the knee?
Boris Johnson: (19:51)
First of all, on pangolins, I do think there’s a problem with zoonotic diseases, and this is clearly the …
Boris Johnson: (20:03)
I do think there’s a problem with zoonotic diseases and this is clearly the thing we have to focus on. And it’s the practice that seems to be particularly prevalent in some parts of Asia, Southeast Asia, of farming wild animals, that is really where the risks are. At the moment, the advice that we’ve had is it doesn’t look as though this particular disease of zoonotic origin came from a lab. Clearly anybody sensible would want to keep an open mind about that, but what we did agree… To come to a yet another thing that we agreed at the G7 was that, as you know, we’re having a new treaty on pandemic preparedness and to make sure the world works better in the future in tackling zoonotic diseases like this, and indeed all types of disease.
Boris Johnson: (20:59)
And one of the things that we agreed to do was to strengthen the World Health Organization and to make sure that their inspectors can have powers similar to those used by the OPCW or the IAEA or other inspectors, weapons inspectors, who can go on the scene and try to determine as independently as possible exactly what is going on so that people can have confidence about the etiology of these diseases, the origins of these diseases. So hopefully in the future, a lot of this obscurity will be dispelled, Harry. And you asked a couple of… Oh yes, everybody should cheer for England. Everybody should cheer for England. As for the possibility that I might be called up to play in the England team, I think… You know, I live in hope, but I think my greatest fans would concede that that’s not going to happen. So, it is a hypothesis that I think is probably one of the most implausible hypotheses yet constructed of all the hypothetical questions that I think has ever been thrown my way.
Boris Johnson: (22:17)
Mark Landler of the New York Times.
Harry Kohler: (22:22)
Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. And thank you for including a few international reporters on your list. You described President Biden as a breath of fresh air a couple of days ago, but it’s also true that you and your government worked extremely hard to cultivate his predecessor. And there are lingering feelings in Washington among Democrats and among some of the administration of suspicion about the Johnson government and a belief that you are more ideologically in tune with Donald Trump than you would be with Joe Biden.
Harry Kohler: (22:57)
I’m wondering what, if anything, you said to the president to dispel those suspicions, what you would say to those in the US that might view you, to turn a phrase, as a physical and emotional clone of Trump? And then lastly, on the specific issue of Northern Ireland, not withstanding what you’ve said today about Macron and Northern Ireland, how worried are you that with a devoted Irish American in the white house, who’s fond of quoting Yeats in virtually every speech that this will inevitably spill over into the US, UK relationship and cause you trouble on other issues?
Boris Johnson: (23:36)
Well, first of all, on the whole issue of the relationship between the UK and the United States, and what’s happened over the last few years. Let’s be absolutely clear, it is the job of all Prime Ministers, everybody who does my job, to have close relations, a close working relationship with the President of the United States. And I think what may be has been helpful, useful in building the partnership with Joe Biden has been the common interest we have in tackling climate change, for instance, which we discussed extensively, the campaign I’ve been running for a long time on female education, which he completely shares. But the whole idea of leveling up, which is at the core of what this government is trying to do.
Boris Johnson: (24:30)
Using infrastructure, using better skills, technology to give people access to high wage, high skills jobs around the whole country. And that’s something that I know that the President’s engaged in a big program that bears some resemblance to a lot of that agenda. And when it comes to building back better for the world and making sure that we build back greener together, I think that we’re totally on the same page. And so it’s been very, very refreshing and very interesting to listen to him. And you had some other point about Yeats.
Boris Johnson: (25:19)
Well, I think that… With greatest respect to all our friends around the world, this is something that I think we’re going to fix, we’ll fix it in a pragmatic way, but this is about making sure that we protect the good Friday peace process and the territorial integrity of the UK. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Boris Johnson: (25:49)
Okay. Ben Riley-Smith of the Telegraph.
Thank you, Prime Minister. Two questions, if I may. Firstly on reopening, I understand you don’t want to get ahead of their announcement, but the whole country is watching this issue, so can you offer a guarantee that ultimately full reopening will not be delayed longer than four weeks? And what is your message to businesses and people who may consider breaking the rules if there is a delay. And on vaccines, there’s a simple way to try and boost world supply dropping the patents on COVID vaccines. Why don’t you support that?
Boris Johnson: (26:22)
Ben, first of all, thanks for having… And I understand why people want to hear more about COVID and step four this afternoon and I understand people’s impatience, but it really… And you ask some good questions, but the best thing is to get all this out in one package so that everybody can understand it in the round. And that’s what we’ll be doing tomorrow, as I’ve said repeatedly. And on your point about trips and intellectual property and that route. Look, I think that the crucial thing is to make sure that we build up capacity, build up manufacturing capacity, fill and finish and manufacturing around the world, particularly in Africa.
Boris Johnson: (27:18)
I think we should be sharing knowledge as much as we can whilst obviously protecting the, as I think Dr. Ngosey of the WTO, well put it, protecting the incentives for innovation. So, you’ve got to accomplish both things at once, but what we think is the right way to go is to sell these vaccines at cost. And that’s why we’re particularly, we champion the Oxford AstraZeneca model. And what we’re doing is getting a lots and lots of jabs into people’s arms by insisting that they are sold at cost. And I think that’s a highly effective way of doing it.
Boris Johnson: (28:06)
Boris Johnson: (28:07)
Okay. I think the G7 agreed to look at that and to see what they could do to expedite knowledge transfer, particular transfer of manufacturing capability, but the particular solution that we’ve come up with, which is making sure that the vaccines are distributed at cost, on a non-profit basis, I think is the right way to go.
Boris Johnson: (28:36)
Can we go to Antonello Guerrera of La Republica.
Robert Peston: (28:42)
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Since the very beginning, your global Britain significantly brought forward the importance of the Indo-Pacific region and the Far East, and this is clearly stressful, so in the G7 final communique mostly regarding China. In your personal view, and after this G7, why is and will this area be vital for our Western democracies? And why for you this new crucial… And is this for you, the new crucial dimension of the transatlantic security in the future?
Robert Peston: (29:21)
And secondly, if I may, you apparently have a great respect for the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, because I remember that last year while announcing the furlough scheme and the financial package against COVID, you quoted him more than once with whatever it takes. And also now, I mean, during these days, the other day, you also said that the mistakes made during the 2008 financial crisis should never be made again and Draghi also was instrumental in reversing it. And also on the other hand, Mario Draghi was deeply inspired by the example of the UK vaccination campaign-
Robert Peston: (30:02)
… was deeply inspired by the example of the UK vaccination campaign. So apart from the COP26 and the G7/G20 connections, what Mario Draghi means to you, and if there is a special relationship between Italy and the UK, even though I know that you don’t like this label. Thank you.
Boris Johnson: (30:22)
Thank you, [Antelier 00:30:23]. There’s obviously a very close, indeed special, relationship between Italy and the UK. We’re actually intensifying that now where we’ve just signed a partnership agreement that’s been in produced for two years now to intensify cooperation in everything from a security to tech to trade.
Robert Peston: (30:52)
You mean the bilateral [inaudible 00:30:52]?
Boris Johnson: (30:52)
Robert Peston: (30:53)
Is it going to be this year?
Boris Johnson: (30:56)
We’ve just finished the work.
Robert Peston: (30:58)
Boris Johnson: (30:59)
And we started that a couple of years ago because, obviously, we see Italy as an incredibly important partner. But on-
Robert Peston: (31:10)
Boris Johnson: (31:11)
You will have access to it as soon as it can be conveniently arranged, Antelier. But, look, on Mario Draghi, I remember vividly being in Lancaster House, I think in, in 2012 when he made, some of you will recall, a famous speech, the Draghi Put, when he said he would do whatever it takes to save the Euro. Not that I necessarily thought that was a good thing at that time, but, anyway, draw a veil over that. But it was incredibly successful, and I think that he is a brilliant economist. It’s an absolute pleasure to listen to him.
Boris Johnson: (31:54)
And I think that he gave a very, very balanced summary of what we need to do now. We do need to relaunch the global economy. We do need to get things working again. We need dynamism from the G7 and our partners, and I think he’s absolutely right about that.
Boris Johnson: (32:18)
But, as you rightly say, this time, in this recovery, we need to make sure that it’s not as unbalanced as the last one, as 2008, and he was very powerful and effective on that point as well.
Boris Johnson: (32:35)
Finally, Heather Stewart, have you got … Oh, sorry.
Robert Peston: (32:38)
Boris Johnson: (32:41)
Yes, sorry. On the Indo-Pacific region, the answer is is, I think, very simple, which is that this is the area of the world where, in the next 20, 30 years, you’re going to see the most dynamic economic growth, where you’re going to see the bulk of middle classes rising, and where, obviously, there are some tensions at the moment that we think can be, how shall I put it, allayed. Tensions that can be allayed by proper observance of the rules-based international system in which we believe in the UK together with other partners in the G7, including Italy, is determined to do that.
Boris Johnson: (33:32)
Thank you. Heather.
Laura Kuenssberg: (33:37)
Thanks. Just on climate finance. So in the run-up to this summit, there was talk of a climate marshal plan. That $100 billion dollars a year you mentioned, it was a pledge that the G7 first made more than a decade ago at the Copenhagen summit. And, alongside that, we had this promise to develop a plan for a new climate funding mechanism, but there were no details of how or when that might happen. But with just a few months to go until COP26, won’t developing countries conclude the G7 isn’t serious about tackling the climate crisis?
Laura Kuenssberg: (34:06)
And on vaccines, we’re obviously a very long way short of the 11 billion doses that Dr. Tedros of the WHO thinks we need to vaccinate 70% of the population before next year’s G7 summit. I wonder whether you think that UK’s aid cuts left you without the moral authority to be able to bring other countries on board this weekend.
Boris Johnson: (34:27)
Thanks very much, Heather. Well, on the first point about the $100 billion, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. It’s a lot of money still to raise, but –
Laura Kuenssberg: (34:42)
Boris Johnson: (34:43)
The UK has put in $11.6 billion, as you know. We had a big pledge from Canada. We’ve had big pledges around the table. I do think that we can get there, and I think it’s vital that we do. Why should somebody in the developing world believe that they have to make some change in their technology to cut CO2 unless, when so much of the CO2 has been emitted in previous decades by us in the richer countries? And we’ve got to make that commitment. And that’s the logic of it.
Boris Johnson: (35:21)
And on your point about vaccines, well, no, I obviously reject that outright because the UK, as I said to Robert, has given 1.6 billion to Gavi, 548 million to COVAX, and a half of a billion vaccines that have been distributed around the world, those jabs are going into people’s arms as a direct result as …
Laura Kuenssberg: (35:54)
Boris Johnson: (35:57)
I think you’ve got to look at the results. And, actually, I’ll tell you something. The points you just raised with me has not been raised by anybody else with me, any other international leader, let alone the leader of a recipient country. Because they know that the UK is one of the biggest donors in the world, and they know that, in spite of the global pandemic, in spite of having to spend 407 billion pounds supporting jobs and families and livelihoods in this country, we’re spending 10 billion pounds supporting the poorest and neediest around the world. And I think people understand that we’re still the second biggest aid contributor in the G7, and I think people can be very, very proud of it.
Boris Johnson: (36:48)
Okay. Look, have I exhausted your questions? I have. Thank you very much. Thank you.
PM Emmanuel Macron: (37:25)