Parliamentarians from UK & France meet in cooperative spirit behind the IPU
In advance of Bastille Day, on 13 July, BGIPU hosted a virtual bilateral meeting between parliamentarians from the founding countries of the IPU, UK and France. The meeting was chaired by BGIPU Chair, Harriett Baldwin MP, who was joined by Lord Kirkhope, Baroness Miller, Stephen Crabb MP, Baroness Verma, Tony Lloyd MP, Earl of Sandwich, and Douglas Chapman MP. The French delegation was led by the Chair of France’s IPU group, Hubert Julien-Laferrière; Senator Robert del Picchia, Senator Eric Bocquet and Veronique Riotton also participated.
The meeting began with French and British delegates providing details and ambitions for the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow. It has been six years since the Paris Agreement was drawn up during COP21 and both countries agreed on the importance of continuing to set ambitious and demanding goals. France is hosting the World Conservation Congress in Marseille in September and the need to protect biodiversity was reiterated during this bilateral exchange. There was also discussion concerning the benefit of technology transfer to the third world to help countries develop rapidly and enable them to cope with climate change. There was agreement on both sides of the importance of this; particularly in light of France’s initiative to set up a Science and Technology Committee in the IPU.
Members of the UK and French delegations discussed the recent developments regarding the pandemic. Although the vaccination programme has proved to be hugely effective in reducing hospital admissions and recent data suggests that vaccines also work well against the delta variant, both sides reinforced the fact that the pandemic was far from over. They noted the importance of continued vigilance and that many people have not yet received a vaccination. Low vaccination take up has been a particular problem in France and one that the government is trying hard to tackle.
Members also discussed their mutual ambitions for the IPU. They agreed that both countries must continue to be global leaders and to work together on international issues and promote strong and sustainable solutions. Frederic Passy from France and William Randal Cremer from the UK started the IPU in 1889 and members at the bilateral exchange talked about their shared responsibility to ensure the IPU continues to be a key organisation in the multilateral community.
UK and French parliamentarians were grateful for the opportunity to discuss topics of mutual interest and build upon the bilateral relationship with our closest neighbours. All delegates expressed a desire to meet in person. There is hope the programme of physical delegations will start in Autumn 2021 and France is a top priority.