New Year greetings from the President of the Republic
Paris, December 31, 2014
My dear compatriots,
My message to you this evening, by extending my New Year’s greetings to you, is one of confidence and determination. I know the difficulties we are encountering; I see them for myself every day, and this evening I’m thinking of families who are worried about their children’s future in the face of unemployment and sometimes even social exclusion. And I want to put an end to denigration and despondency.
France is a great country; it is the world’s fifth economic power. France shoulders its responsibilities every time peace is threatened, thanks to the intervention of our soldiers in Africa and Iraq, and I want to pay tribute to them wherever they are; they are a credit to their flag.
France has an active diplomacy which tirelessly seeks a solution to conflicts such as the one in Ukraine, where I got involved personally, and in the Middle East. France takes Europe forward. It is France which championed growth as a priority with the €315 billion investment plan, which the European Commission is going to launch in 2015.
France is recognized for its innovations, its culture and its talented entrepreneurs, creators and researchers. It has been honoured this year with two Nobel prizes.
So we have every reason to be confident in ourselves, but on one condition: we move forward, are bold, reject the status quo and ward off decline. I have opted for the future whilst remaining true to the Republic’s values and our social model.
France isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about hope. I and Manuel Valls’ government are duty-bound to do everything, to embark on everything to prepare the France of tomorrow, to give everything for our country.
I believe in perseverance, in steadfastness, in work over the long term. 2014 was a tough year, punctuated by all kinds of hardships. I held firm and stuck to the course I had set.
I announced the Responsibility Pact to you at the beginning of the year; it comes into force tomorrow morning. Businesses and self-employed workers will see their social security contributions go down; employers will no longer pay contributions for workers who are paid the minimum wage. It is now up to businesses to take on staff and invest. This is what the word “responsibility” means, because our obligation – I could say our shared obligation – is to fight unemployment.
Major reforms were also conducted throughout the year which is ending.
So from 1 January, tomorrow, the gruelling nature of some jobs will finally be taken into account in the calculation of retirement rights; the system will have to be simplified for businesses as much as possible – I’ll see to this personally, in consultation with the social partners, who themselves have committed to an essential negotiation whose challenge is to modernize social dialogue in our country.
Likewise, territorial reform – the one which had been announced thousands of times and abandoned thousands of times – was adopted in under six months. And next year, you will be called on to appoint the elected representatives of these future local authorities. This will mean – whatever you choose – more efficiency and less expenditure.
So France is capable of transforming itself, and I know you are ready for this. And this is what we’re going to do again in 2015, firstly with the legislation Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, is going to introduce in January. It is going to give free rein to initiatives, do away with unearned advantages, free up energy and economic activity, develop employment and make life simpler for businesses whilst protecting employees. It will give our society a new lease of life because this legislation is above all intended for young people.
Young people will always be my priority, with extra resources to fight inequality in education, with better trained young teachers and with the launch of a major digital plan in schools, because I want France to be Europe’s leading country for using new technology. This will be a tremendous tool for knowledge and also for social justice, because France is strong only when it is fair.
Consequently, in 2015, the lowest income tax bracket will be axed – I pledged this; family allowances will now be adjusted in accordance with financial resources; support for elderly people will be improved; access to care will be made easier without questioning the freedom of health professionals.
But we must also be capable of coming together on the most difficult, or I could say the most intimate, social issues: I’m thinking of the end of life and the right to die with dignity. In 2015 I’d like Parliament to adopt a consensus-based bill that helps ease patients’ suffering and takes their wishes into account.
So next year, my dear compatriots, France will move forwards in every field and for everyone. That’s the battle I’ve begun. I’ll continue this battle to the end, against conservatisms – and they are many – and populisms – and they are dangerous. In the face of unemployment it’s by showing initiative that we’ll win, not by freezing or isolating us from the rest of the world. Let’s avoid language that deceives and misleads people.
With Europe, we won’t persuade people by breaking what exists or seeking to leave the Euro Area, but rather by restoring our own competitiveness, activating all the economic levers in order to overcome stagnation in Europe and giving the Euro Area a democratic foundation.
And in the face of the threats which are increasing and causing concern – namely terrorism, communautarisme [ghettoization] and fundamentalism – we won’t protect ourselves by dividing, by stigmatizing one religion and giving in to fear, but rather by firmly upholding our common rules: laïcité [secularism] (1) the Republican system, individuals’ security and women’s dignity. When France forgets its principles, it loses its way, gets bogged down. Therein lies the decline, the only one that threatens us: namely, abandonment. It’s already happened in history, in France and the rest of Europe; let’s never forget it. That’s why I’m making the fight against racism and anti-Semitism a major national cause.
Likewise, we must come together through commitment: it’s a virtue for the nation, it’s what unites us in the same homeland. So civic service will be extended to all young people, in all their diversity – all those young people who request it.
My dear compatriots, 2015 will be an essential year also – and I could say above all – for the planet. France is going to host the Climate Conference next December. It will bring together all the heads of state and government from the whole world. It’s a magnificent opportunity for us to unite, regardless of our differences, to share the best we have and give progress back its meaning. France must be exemplary – it is –, with the energy transition bill, already passed by the National Assembly, and the biodiversity bill.
France was able, [nearly] 70 years ago now, to hold a major conference on universal human rights. We must now bring the world along with us so that it, in turn, can adopt a declaration on the rights of humanity to protect the planet. And I’ll do everything to ensure the 2015 Paris conference is a success, because when our children or our grandchildren ask us what we were able to do in 2015, I want us to be proud and tell them that we helped protect the whole planet.
My dear compatriots in metropolitan France, Overseas France or living abroad, such are my wishes for the coming year. 2015 must be a year of boldness, action and solidarity. And my thoughts go out in particular this evening to those who are most vulnerable, to people who are alone, to the destitute and to all the victims of the tragedies that have occurred in recent months.
But my message is one of confidence: confidence in ourselves, confidence in all our country’s strengths, confidence in our vitality, and that’s why I can say this evening: long live the Republic and long live France!./.
(1) laïcité goes beyond the concept of secularism, embracing the strict neutrality of the state.