Since 1975, the most economically advanced countries have come together with a common understanding that with economic power comes great responsibility. In just over four decades, our world has advanced in leaps and bounds. But that same shared responsibility, to ensure that no one is left behind, remains just as pressing today. In a world where a billion people have emerged from extreme poverty in 15 years, half of global wealth remains in the hands of 1% of the global population. By 2030, more than 100 million people could fall back into extreme poverty due to climate change alone. In every country in the world women outlive men, but on virtually every global measure, women are more economically excluded, despite often being more educated, as is the case in the European Union.
There is absolutely no justification for the persistence of inequality in a world as developed as ours. It is why today the European Union and its members remain the biggest global provider of official development assistance – last year this amounted to €74.4 billion, which represents 57% of the global effort. It is just part of who we are. Yet we are not in the business of charity, but in the spirit of true partnership among equals, working together with our partners for inclusive growth through environmentally, socially and financially responsible vehicles. To fight inequality is to seek long-lasting, tangible solutions to the global challenges we face, and the only way to do this is to ensure the process of developing them is inclusive. This is why we have shifted our action towards long-term investment for education, employment and growth. And in order to increase the resources available to achieve our ambitious objective of leaving no one behind, we are leveraging private funds with public finance.
The new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs is about a new economic impetus for the two continents, focusing on job creation and education for employability, through boosted investment and increased trade. It is already working. With the European Union’s External Investment Plan, our target was to leverage up to €44 billion by 2020. There is €37 billion already in the pipeline. These financial efforts support the creation of 10 million jobs in Africa over the next five years, more than 100,000 Erasmus+ educational mobilities by 2027 and access to electricity for 30 million people and companies.
I welcome the drive by the French G7 presidency to reinforce our cooperation with Africa at the level of the G7. The European Union is already Africa’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 36% of Africa’s trade in goods. The European market remains the most open to African exports in the world, and it accounts for 40% of foreign direct investment in Africa. As we reflect on how we move forward this year during our discussions, the commitments we make must be concrete and durable, our partnership one of equals.
For the European Union, this is our starting point. It is why we will always stand up for a global economy that is open, governed by clear rules, transparency and fairness. These are the values at the heart of the European Union and what multilateralism should strive to achieve. It is why all our international trade agreements promote these values. Take our recent agreement with Mercosur, a landmark agreement 20 years in the making that will create a free trade area covering 780 million people. Each and every country party to the agreement has committed itself to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and, in the case of Brazil, the commitment to stop deforestation in the Amazon.
A priority at the heart of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which enshrines these principles within the European Union, fighting inequality in all its forms, from the workplace and beyond, has been one of my priorities over the past five years. Beyond our borders, the EU has been leading the global fight against gender inequality. Last year, the EU co-hosted the first ever meeting of women foreign ministers under Canada’s G7 presidency, where we pledged to build a network of governments and civil society organisations to advance gender equality. This year, we launched the Spotlight Initiative with the United Nations to address gender-based violence, and we have already launched targeted programmes in Latin America and the Pacific region.
I am also looking forward to our work on the digital front. The European Union has much to offer the discussions in Biarritz. Our General Data Protection Regulation set a new global standard for privacy and is now the blueprint for data protection in countries accounting for 42% of global gross domestic product and 34% of global trade. Our ongoing work with digital platforms to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content and hate speech online is now helping to remove 89% of illegal content in the crucial 24-hour window before it spreads. Harnessing the digital transformation while protecting our citizens and democracies from harm is a challenge of utmost importance now, and not one any country can face alone. It is a prime example of where global forums such as the G7 have a crucial role to play.
Protecting the world we live in is a shared responsibility and a battle we will all lose if some do not pull their weight. We are meeting at a time when the multilateral system is facing constraints as some of our oldest partners divert from our common path and new powers emerge. We must stand against the pursuit of protectionist, nationalist policies that will only reinforce existing inequalities. For those who have the privilege to be a member of the G7, we must lead by example. This is the message I will deliver in Biarritz.