Speech by Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the Guildhall in London (6 October 2014) [fr]
London, 6 October 2014
1/ A France that is moving forward
“To jump-start and reform France, to work for recovery: that’s my road map, my mission, the mission entrusted to me six months ago by the French President and the National Assembly, which has twice placed its confidence in me.”
"The first commitment is to restore competitiveness to our companies."
“That’s the purpose of the Responsibility and Solidarity Pact we’re implementing. An unprecedented effort of €40 billion over four years for businesses in France should enable us to lower labour costs, restore margins and allow our companies to invest, innovate, go out to win back markets and recruit. On 1 January 2015, there will be a nearly 10-point reduction in social security contributions for many businesses.”
“I’ve said in France that I love businesses. I even said it in German in Berlin, and the whole French press is expecting me to say it in English in your country. Well, they won’t be disappointed: I love businesses! My government is pro-business!”
The second commitment is genuine budgetary discipline.
“A €50-billion savings plan is envisaged over three years, €21 billion of it in 2015.” That, too, is an unprecedented effort.” Some people, who were still in power in France less than three years ago, criticize this effort for not being enough. And yet, at the time, they did nothing to improve the situation. They let the public debt get out of control. When you’re in opposition, how easy it is to propose savings of €100 or €150 billion! So yes to reform, but no to moving backwards! We’re reducing public expenditure, but we’re maintaining our priorities: education, security, justice. We’re restarting house-building and protecting our health system, whose qualities you in Britain are the first to emphasize.”
“The third commitment is to implement the structural reforms which have been expected for so long but have always been put off.”
“An example illustrates this: territorial reform. At the end of this year, the number of French regions will go from 22 to 13! There are of course obstacles and opposition, but we have to overcome this conservatism!”
“In the same way, between now and November, we shall present a bill designed to lift the barriers which are hampering our economy and seriously affecting the spirit of initiative. This has to include proposals on Sunday working, in particular to encourage the opening of our department stores in tourist areas, simplification in businesses of what we call the seuils sociaux [social thresholds], a greater role for business agreements vis-à-vis the law and modifying regulations in several professions, etc. These are the major areas on which we are working and making rapid progress.”
“I’d like to end with a word about the importance France attaches to the issue of attractiveness.“
“Attractiveness for foreign investors; attractiveness for foreign companies’ headquarters; attractiveness for foreign skills. Attractiveness for all those who want to come and set up in France.”
“Paris is the number one financial centre in the Euro Area, and ranks seventh in the world. It has major strengths:
a high level of savings; the French people’s savings rate is 16%!
the presence of major French and international companies; Euronext represents 40% of the market capitalization of the Euro Area!
banks with cutting-edge financial technology. Representatives of French banks are among you today.”
“My message is simple: France is on the move. It’s reforming. Of course, reforming isn’t always easy. But when there’s the will, when the objectives are clearly explained, then you can move forward.”
2/ Acting to reform France, means acting for Europe
“Europe, too, needs reforms.”
“To exert influence, we Europeans must, first of all, stay united and strong; this means staying together. Europe is weakened when regionalism divides its nations. Our Europe has experienced too many ruptures to allow itself new ones. And, moreover, Scottish voters have just opted for the Union.”
“Boost investment in Europe: this is what the new Commission has to get down to doing. Its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has proposed a €300-billion plan. This plan, which has to attract public and private investment, now needs to be implemented as soon as possible.”
“Boosting growth in Europe in no way means giving up our genuine budget discipline. Controlling public expenditure and cutting deficits remain imperatives.”
Read the full speech here: http://www.ambafrance-uk.org/My-government-is-pro-business