French PM speaking before the National Assembly
15 December 2016

The key points of Bernard Cazeneuve's general policy statement

The Prime Minister delivered his general policy statement before the National Assembly on 13 December. During the vote that followed, 305 votes were in favour out of a total of 554. The essential message of his speech is the protection of all French people.
Content published under the Government Cazeneuve from 2016 06th December to 2017 14th May
 
Following the Council of Ministers' deliberation on 10 December 2016, Bernard Cazeneuve committed his Government to a general policy statement, in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 49 of the French Constitution.
 

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Nominated on 6 December 2016 by the President of the Republic, Bernard Cazeneuve is following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Manuel Valls, who acted "to give our country every opportunity". "Every day counts, to continue their work for the recovery of France, its public accounts and its industrial and productive capacities", said the Prime Minister.

After lamenting the humanitarian tragedy in Syria during his statement, the Prime Minister indicated that France, following the example of great democracies, "must face up to the social, environmental and security challenges of today".
 

Ensure all French people are protected

Bernard Cazeneuve intends "to act to protect the French people from threats in an increasingly uncertain world". He hopes to move "towards a fairer society", by using every minute to prepare for the future.
  

Safeguard the social protection system

Protecting the French people first means social protection against the hazards of everyday life: losing one's job, illness, accidents in the workplace and old age. The Prime Minister emphasised two points: guarantee that the Social Security accounts are balanced and open up new rights to patients.
  
  • The general Social Security system deficit has thus been brought back to 400 million in 2017 whereas it was at 17.4 billion in 2011. Over the next five months, the Government will be entirely committed to shoring up these results.
  • At 1 January 2017, third party payment will become a right for pregnant women or for people suffering from a long-term illness. This right will be extended to all patients on 30 November 2017.
The Prime Minister also plans to make more funds available. Thus, 200 million euros will be mobilised to "improve dental treatment reimbursement in the first quarter of 2017." Finally, hard-hitting measures will be taken from 2017 to combat the shortage of doctors in some areas ("medical deserts") and ensure all French people have equal access to treatment throughout the country.
 

Combat terrorism and delinquency

The French State and its citizens must now deal with an unprecedented terrorist threat. The Prime Minister recalled the renewal of the state of emergency during the last exceptional Council of Ministers meeting held last Saturday. This involves "rearming the State to combat terrorism and delinquency" by consolidating and developing the legal and regulatory provisions. In order to strengthen justice resources, Bernard Cazeneuve highlighted the adoption of new anti-terrorist measures including the Intelligence Act. He also recalled the creation of:
  • 738 Magistrate jobs,
  • 962 positions for clerks and officials in the courts,
  • 4,535 positions for prison officers.
"Since 2012, the Government has been striving to give our internal security forces and our intelligence services more resources to enable them to better carry out their jobs", declared the Prime Minister, indicating the creation of 9,000 police and gendarme positions between 2012 and 2017. At 1 January 2017, the security forces will be "bolstered by the national guard whose workforce will gradually reach 85,000 members." Bernard Cazeneuve also announced the adoption, during the coming Council of Ministers meeting on 21 December, of a bill relating to public security which will in particular outline "the regulations for the use of weapons, with strict adherence to our constitutional and conventional principles."
 
Protecting the French people is also rooted in overseas theatres of operation to fight against Daesh. French armies have been in Mali since 2013 to prevent the advancement of jihadists in the region. They have also been in Iraq and Syria since 2014 alongside the coalition partners. We are committed "in overseas theatres on behalf of the universal values we hold dear and our interests", declared the Prime Minister. The number of troops has been increased, as shown in the 2017 Defence budget.
   

Act at European level

The Prime Minister believes in "a Europe that protects, that invests and that innovates". He feels that Europe must prepare for the future. Bernard Cazeneuve is a "convinced European", but also a "demanding European", who sees Brexit as posing a real risk of dismantling the European project.

Amongst the key points which the Prime Minister anticipates developing in his economic road map, he would like to:
  • Increase the capacity of the "Juncker Plan" to more than 500 billion euros by 2020 in order to develop projects supporting the energy transition, digital technology, health and sustainable transport.
  • Continue France's push for an ambitious revision of the 1996 directive on posted workers.
  • Defend European interests in globalisation, with commercial agreements guaranteeing fair trade, reciprocity regarding public procurement contract access and that social and environmental standards are taken into account. Incidentally, it is this requirement which has led France to thus far refuse to sign the Transatlantic Agreement but accept the agreement with Canada.
Bernard Cazeneuve has also emphasised Europe's role in acting both against illegal immigration and for the continent's security – France has been hard at work on this subject for the past four years, in constant contact with Germany. Thus, Frontex has become more powerful with budgets and a workforce on the increase. France is currently finalising, in collaboration with its European partners, the revision of the Schengen Borders Code.

Europe must show more solidarity and be more responsible when it comes to the migrant crisis. To do this, the EU decisions for "relocating and resettling the refugees" must be implemented. According to Bernard Cazeneuve, "responsibility implies that the migrants' first State of entry takes all measures, with support from the European Union, in order to ensure that the refugees are properly received and those who are not eligible to remain on our continent are returned".

By successfully evacuating and sheltering the migrants in Calais, "France sought to live up to the universal message for which we have come to be recognised by the wider world".
 

Reform and continue with the country's recovery

Furthering the actions carried out by his predecessors, the Prime Minister intends to stabilise finances, reinstate business competitiveness, combat unemployment and develop new rights for French people. He is seeking to complete the recovery work initiated by his predecessors.
  

Business competitiveness

The public deficit is predicted to drop below 3% in 2017, a threshold which has not been reached since 2008. "Reducing the deficits means preserving our sovereignty, our ability to make economic choices," the Prime Minister advocated; he means to continue the efforts undertaken to produce sustainable results.

In addition to the efforts to reduce the public deficit, the country's recovery will also be achieved through economic revival. Business competitiveness has been at the heart of a number of reforms. Since 2012, through the combined effect of the CICE (Tax Credit for encouraging competitiveness and jobs) and the Responsibility and Solidarity Pact, nearly 40 billion euros have been dedicated to strengthening our productive capacities each year. Industrial companies have returned to their profit margin level of the beginning of the 2000s and labour cost is now lower in France than in Germany. In order to strengthen this momentum, the CICE rate will be raised to 7% from January next year.
  

Combating unemployment

Combating unemployment is a priority of this Government and efforts in this respect are beginning to produce results with 101,700 fewer jobseekers registered with Pôle Emploi (French government employment service) since the beginning of the year. The unemployment rate measured by Insee (French national statistics bureau) has returned to the level it was at the end of 2012.

To consolidate this trend, the plan for 500,000 additional training opportunities will be extended by six months in order to offer a solution to those who need one most. Finally, from January 2017, a "zero long-term unemployment" experiment will be rolled out in 10 pilot territories.
 
Since 2012, particular attention has also been paid to the living conditions of French people. Thus, the RSA (inclusion income support) has benefited from a 10% increase. Family benefits for single parents have risen by 25% and those for large families by 50%. For 2017, the Government plans in particular to:
  • extend the “Youth Guarantee” (Garantie jeunes) scheme for people under 25 years old who are in the most precarious situations
  • pay 335 euros of one-off aid to apprentices under 21 years old in 2017
  • extend the compte de prévention et de pénibilité scheme, which has already enabled 500,000 people in arduous jobs to retire earlier.

Prepare for the future

Successfully making the energy transition, revitalising the territories and investing in education and research are some of the areas to work on in order to have a "more sustainable development model."
  
  • By hosting COP21, France has put itself at the forefront of the planet's protection and green growth. However, there are still a significant number of challenges to overcome, as is shown by the pollution peaks, registered in the last few days, in large urban areas. Solutions for sustainable modes of transport will need to be developed with local authorities in particular. The development of renewable energies must be continued along with energy retrofit efforts for housing.
     
  • Agriculture will also need to be less dependent on fossil fuels. It will need to encourage the bioeconomy in order to foster the development of biomaterials, the production of renewable energy and biochemistry. Within the context of Brexit, the Government will take action to defend the interests of French fishermen.
     
  • Thanks to its 15 already established metropolises, and with the Métropole du Grand Paris to come, France shines on the international stage. To help the new intermunicipalities, which will be operational from 1 January 2017, the support funds for local investments and the infrastructure grant for rural territories (DETR) will increase to 1.2 billion euros. The territorial reform has also strengthened solidarity between the territories and rural affairs contracts support this goal, in addition to the contracts for the State-region plan and the Innovative Metropolitan Pacts.
     
  • Plans to reform schools are at the heart of the Republican plan and have been under way since 2013. This reform gives more resources to those who need them most and trains and enhances teaching and educative teams. It aims to "stop the exclusion mindset" in order to go back to the promise of "promotion through merit". From 2017, the "Creations in lessons" scheme will be rolled out with 100 artists in residence within primary and secondary schools. As for vocational colleges, they will be able to offer 500 new courses, targeting the jobs of the future. What is more, a billion euros will be earmarked each year to make France a leading stakeholder in international scientific research.
     

France – an honourable nation

The Prime Minister finished his speech by paying tribute to the country, able to stand up to the violence of terrorism "without giving way to panic, nor hatred, nor to the temptation to cowardly give up on the values and virtues on which our country was founded". Bernard Cazeneuve also praised the solidarity and efforts of our fellow citizens who have carried on living their lives "without a fuss" no matter where they are: businesses, administrations, associations, universities, etc.

The Prime Minister committed to defend the Republican pact, by upholding secularism; "this jewel which makes it possible for us to 'live together'". The notion of respecting everyone is at the heart of his action.

He concluded by asserting his desire to consolidate and develop the action carried out since 2012. His method evokes that of Jean Jaurès, which was presented in a speech in 1903 to the pupils of the college in Albi: commitment and dedication, without looking for rewards.

 

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