Fiftieth Anniversary of the OECD


Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at Elysée Palace

Monday, 13 December

Mr President, Ambassadors, dear friends,

It is a great honour for the OECD to be received by President Sarkozy in this extraordinary Palace to launch the celebrations of its 50th anniversary.

The OECD’s goal is to develop better policies for better lives by adhering to our fundamental values, which are those of objectivity, openness, integrity, audacity and a certain pioneering spirit.

However, we must look beyond a celebration of our past successes and current assets. We need to surpass ourselves in order to continue serving our Member countries in a way that meets the many economic, social and environmental challenges they face. Our relationship with France is the best example of how we can help to improve public policies. Last week, our PISA programme, which compares the performances of students from 74 countries, sparked a major national debate in this country. We have also contributed to the Presidential Commission chaired by Jacques Attali on growth and French competitiveness, and to the Fitoussi-Sen-Stiglitz Commission on the measurement of social progress. We have also been present in many other important areas, be it pension reform, combating youth unemployment or the Grenelle Environment Round Table.

I like to think of the OECD as a trailblazer and as the most loyal advisor to governments. This is particularly true in the case of France, in view of our privileged location at the Château de la Muette.

However, above and beyond your major domestic agenda, our work with France also addresses more systemic issues, in that your country has a responsibility to ensure that the international economy works in a way that benefits all.

In this respect, we want to extend our partnership by building on the recent and tangible successes that have already been obtained. We are particularly pleased to have lent our support to President Sarkozy’s goal of putting an end to tax havens.

We are also proud of our role as an incubator for standards for the world economy, not only with regard to the fight against corruption, investment, public development aid, the environment, export credits, public procurement and the defence of intellectual property rights, but also in many other areas of public and private governance. These best practices and standards may prove all the more important at a time when France is playing a more pre-eminent role by assuming the Presidency of the G20.

The OECD is closely involved in both the preparatory work for the G20 and the summits themselves. We applaud the substantive agenda that President Sarkozy has set out. We fully agree with the fact that we must aim high and not rein in our ambitions. We are already working on the reform of the international monetary system, employment, taxation, the fight against corruption, development, food security, structural policies and many more of the other themes of the French Presidency of the G20.

The G20 is a perfect illustration of the need to closely involve the main emerging economies in drawing up a tangible and ambitious agenda which will thereby have a truly global impact. We cannot tackle major global challenges without these important partners. These countries are not yet OECD Member countries, but we are already co-operating with them as part of our strategy towards enhanced engagement.

The issue at stake here is that of improved international co-operation. That is what we are celebrating today, this co-operation which has also been the cornerstone of the OECD since it was first established. 

We are the proud heirs of the generous and inspired vision which, through the Marshall Plan, supported the creation of a new Europe based on dialogue. It was an outstanding example of leadership. This leadership, this spirit of solidarity, of good will and intelligence is today needed more than ever.

This is what we shall commemorate at the 50th Anniversary Meeting of the OECD Council and at the OECD Forum 2011, due to be held immediately after the G8 Summit next year.

And today, we are happy that our first celebrations are being held here with President Sarkozy, “at home”, in the conviction that we are here to build together a stronger, cleaner and fairer economy.

Thank you very much.


Useful links


President Sarkoy's speech (in French)


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