The President of the Republic wants to set France on “a new path”. A new government will be responsible for leading the country on the path drawn by Emmanuel Macron. He presented his project and priorities to ten journalists from the regional daily press – including Ouest-France – gathered at the Élysée this Thursday morning.
Ten journalists from the regional daily press were received at the Elysée Palace on Thursday, July 2. The president of the Republic Emmanuel Macron presented his project and his priorities for the rest of his five-year term. The head of state announces that he wants to engage France on “A new path”. A new government is being prepared which will be responsible for implementing this new path. Interview with Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic.
The Covid-19 crisis is it behind us or should France fear a second wave?
We have not emerged from the health crisis, but from its most acute phase. We are now entering a phase of surveillance and great vigilance. I asked the government to prepare a prevention campaign during the summer. In some territories like Mayotte or Guyana, the virus is still actively circulating. We must therefore remain mobilized and united with our overseas territories.
Can general reconfiguration be part of it?
Nothing should be excluded. The goal is to do everything to avoid it. As for whether to expect a re-acceleration of the circulation of the virus, I don’t know. We don’t know everything, but we are preparing for everything.
This crisis has highlighted the difficulties of the health world. The Health Segur ends and for the unions, the envelope of 6.3 billion euros is not up to par. Will we stay there?
Our health care system is a common good that we must preserve. I became convinced that the hospital had been weakened by years of too short-term budget management. The answer, through the “Ségur” dialogue, is a massive and sustainable investment by the Nation in our health system, better access to care for all, a simplification of the operation of the hospital for staff and for users.
We will very strongly revalue the situations of medical and non-medical personnel. The government has put several billion on the table and negotiations are underway. We will increase wages by several hundred euros for sure; part of it must be linked to a form of contractualization within each hospital to improve the quality of care and organization. The Ségur de la Santé must also allow decompartmentalization, simplification, more freedom on the ground, less bureaucracy, and ultimately a more efficient system.
Investment in buildings, equipment and digital will also be massive: we will generate a total of between 15 and 20 billion euros.
You promise a new path, you ask the French for reinvention.
I believe that the course on which I embarked on in 2017 remains true. But this course that I have set cannot ignore international upheavals and the economic crisis in which we are entering. I have consulted widely, for several weeks, in order to bring together all the vital forces of the country to face the next stages of the crisis. The start of the school year will be very hard and we must prepare for it. So we have to draw a new path. I see it around the economic, social, environmental and cultural reconstruction of the country. This reconstruction begins with the Ségur de la santé. It will continue with work on the elderly, then on the support of our youth, because there can be no generation sacrificed. Another essential area of work is that of equal opportunities, on which we have not gone far enough. We see it when part of our youth tells us “when you have such a skin color or a given name, you don’t have the same place in the Republic”. They will be the first victims of the crisis. It was from youth that we asked for the most sacrifices. Do not go out, interrupt studies. It is 700,000 or 900,000 young people who will enter the job market at the start of the school year, it is those who will have sold out. We cannot leave them alone in the face of this situation.
Will there be a hiring bonus for these young people? Reduction of charges for companies that will hire young people?
We will indeed go much further in the coming weeks. There will be financial incentives to hire and a set of measures to leave no young person without solution.
What is the philosophy of the recovery plan to be presented this summer?
We must collectively break with what is the French disease: the preference for unemployment. The classic French model is to accept massive social plans and then have a very generous system that compensates them. Basically, a model which means that we have never solved the problem of mass unemployment. We must, through social dialogue and the mobilization of all, succeed in avoiding, wherever possible, social plans or limit them when they are there. This is a new social deal to save jobs, together, that I wanted to launch with the social partners. And that resulted in a shared, I believe, vision. And we started to act. We see it with the aeronautical plan, which reduced the social plan at Airbus today. But let me be very clear with you: there are social plans, and there will be. The health crisis destroyed 5 points of national wealth and put entire sectors to rest. This inevitably has consequences for businesses.
The nuclear is it part of the energy transition?
I will never remove nuclear power to restore fossil fuels because it would accept more CO2 emissions. Deleting nuclear power makes sense when it can be replaced by non-intermittent renewable energy. Today, we do not yet know how to do it completely. It is necessary to have achieved the storage capacity of renewable or by lower consumption, that is to say thermal renovation of buildings, lower consumption of travel. A model that consumes less is what is relevant in terms of economic sovereignty and in terms of CO2 emissions. The recovery plan will have that at heart.
Is Europe up to the crisis?
We must make this crisis an opportunity by helping us to go further, faster and stronger on the construction of a more intelligent social model for our young people, more environmental and to reindustrialize the country faster. What I’ve worked on a lot and which hasn’t been seen a lot by our compatriots, is probably the most important paradigm shift in Europe in recent years, it’s the Franco-German agreement that we concluded with the Chancellor. After two crisis councils which were failures, moments of very great tensions between northern Europe and certain southern countries, we worked hard for several weeks with Angela Merkel in a confidential manner to build a Franco agreement – German who recognizes that the Euro zone and the European market can collapse with this crisis. We agree to issue debt together. What would not be fair would be to finance new spending for the social model and wage increases on debt. I was very clear on this. The new path is not spin.
Won’t you raise taxes?
No. It would be a big mistake because we are one of the most tax-advantaged countries in the world.
Even for the carbon tax?
I think that over the next two years, we will not be able to deliver a carbon tax. This must be a debate for the next presidential election. If a carbon tax that is economically relevant may exist; it must first exist at European level. I will fight for this with a tax at the borders of Europe, as proposed by the citizens’ convention. Second, it can only exist in France as part of an in-depth environmental and fair tax reform. So it goes through the reform of other taxes but it is not the priority of the moment.
Should the 35 hours be called into question?
The short-term priority is to save jobs, starting with long-term partial activity. But the debate we had known before this crisis around the duration of the number of years of contributions in life continues to arise. We cannot be a country that wants independence, social, economic and environmental recovery and be one of the countries where we work the least throughout life in Europe. We have to be honest with ourselves.
So don’t we give up the pivotal age?
Is the pension reform to be thrown away? No. It would be a mistake for two reasons. The first is what the universal pension system is right for. We have all seen during this crisis what is called the second line, the delivery men, the cashiers … All of that France is the France losing out from the current pension system. She is the one who wins in the universal points retirement system, that of small careers and fractured careers. The second subject is that of financial balances. I will ask the government to quickly re-engage in-depth consultation, in a dialogue of responsibility associating the social partners from the summer on this aspect of financial balances. It has to be put on the table. There will be no abandonment of pension reform. I am open to her being transformed.
This can go through an increase in the contribution period?
We have one of the most generous social models in the world, which has shown its strength during this crisis. We share it. This reform cannot be resumed unchanged at the end of the crisis, but the question of the number of years during which we contribute remains open.
With all these reforms, part of France is angry. Do you feel responsible?
I have my share of clumsiness. I have sometimes considered it necessary to go quickly on certain reforms. It can only work through dialogue. I have a lot of ambition for our country. I sometimes gave the feeling of wanting to make reforms against people.
What is your vision of decentralization?
Nothing can be done without broad consultation with all the players. However, I am in favor of having more differentiations, because I think that this corresponds both to the demand of local authorities and to the need of territories. With the differentiation, I am ready to facilitate the experiments. Dialogue must be organized between all the territories and the government. Our priority is the reconstruction of the country. In the short term, we must not get lost in big debates. We have to be pragmatic. And get everyone involved. I am ready to associate all the elected officials who are ready for the reconstruction effort. Not by major institutional reforms but by concrete policies. Differentiation. Association. Clarification. I want to involve them by launching this summer a major conference of the territories where I want in a very concrete way that we look on a case by case basis, that we do not get lost in cathedral debates.
Should we postpone departmental and regional elections?
It is a false debate. Institutional debates must be opened, I’m ready for it. But do you think it would be welcome on the part of the President of the Republic to impose this postponement alone? It is not for the President to decide this question alone. If we are moving towards a new big-bang of local authorities and massive transfers of skills, it can take months. Is it the priority when we have elections in March and the time is right for the reconstruction of the country?
Have you made your decision on maintainingEdouard Philippe ?
For the past three years with me, he has carried out remarkable work with successive governments, and we have carried out important, historic reforms, often in very difficult circumstances. It carries out important reforms and we have a relationship of trust which is from a certain point of view unique on the scale of the Fifth Republic. I would have to make choices to lead the new path. These are new goals of independence, reconstruction, reconciliation and new methods to be implemented. Behind, there will be a new team.
Historical, it means that it is ancient history with Édouard Philippe
I made the choice, in 2017, to take by my side a man who did not campaign and who was not in my political training, who was in the same process of opening and overcoming the cleavages traditional. What we have managed to do for three years, with great confidence and coordination, is unprecedented, contrary to what has been written.
They say you want a combat government: what does that mean?
We will have few priorities: reviving the economy, continuing to rebuild our social protection and the environment, re-establishing a just republican order, defending European sovereignty. Yes, there always have to be new faces, new talents. Personalities from different backgrounds. The choice of men and women is important but the ambitions for the country are greater than us, the institutions and their calendar are imposed on us.
Thinking of the 2022 presidential election?
I have no right to make calculations for myself. It would mean giving up taking risks that are useful for boosting the economy. If you want to reconcile without acting, by being a tactician for yourself, it is a serious mistake.
What did you think of the very poor result of the Republic in March to municipal elections ?
My role is not to comment on French political life. The President of the Republic is not a party leader. From where I am, I congratulate all the mayors that the French have given themselves and I want to work with them.
When you used the expression “happy days” in your speech on April 13, you were referring to the program of the National Council of Resistance. But your “new path” seems to be much less ambitious…
We are building a protection model that has never existed; we are building an unparalleled training model, especially for young people; we are creating a new branch of social protection, that of dependence; we are in the process of refounding the hospital as it has not been refounded since 1945; our goal is to reindustrialize the country by reinventing an ecological industrial model. These few projects show the historical character of our action. They just don’t happen overnight. The France of happy days is first and foremost France of homework. Our predecessors who rebuilt the country in 1945 also had the spirit of conquest pegged to the body, the refusal of defeat. This spirit of defeat, I see it too often prowling and it is not good for our country.