New Year’s Eve Speech
Paris, December 31 2009
Françaises, Français, my dear compatriots,
The year drawing to a close has been difficult for everyone. No continent, no country, no sector has been spared. The economic crisis brought new hardships, further suffering, in France as elsewhere. I’m particularly thinking of those who lost their jobs. However, our country has been less hard-hit than many others. We owe this to our social model which cushioned the impact and the tough measures which were taken to support economic activity and above all ensure that no one was left behind.
But each and every one of you deserves the greatest credit. I want to pay tribute this evening to the sangfroid and courage of the French in the face of the crisis. I want to pay special tribute to both sides of industry which have demonstrated a great sense of responsibility, to the voluntary organizations which have come to the aid of those in greatest need, to the business leaders – there are many of them – who have striven to save jobs.
Together we have avoided the worst. But we have also prepared the future. At a time when there’s every indication that growth is going to return, we see that during 2009, in the midst of all kinds of difficulties, a new world began to be built.
A new organization of the world is taking shape through the G20. Problems which for a very long time had been arousing huge concern and seemed insoluble, such as extravagant bonuses and tax havens, are on the way to being resolved – even the Copenhagen summit, which opened a door to the future by managing to get all the States to commit to numerical targets to combat global warming and lay down the principle of funding for the poorest countries to be paid for by a tax on financial speculation. Europe has at last given itself institutions which are going to allow it to act and France has continued her transformation. She reaches the end of this year with more employment- and investment-friendly taxation thanks to the reform of the taxe professionnelle [local tax on operating businesses], a secondary-school system which prepares pupils more effectively for higher education, universities which are at last autonomous, a minimum service on public transport [in the event of strikes], a revenue de solidarité active [additional income support] which encourages our poorest compatriots to get back into work, vocational training more geared to the needs of young people and jobseekers, a hospital system, “judicial map” [location and jurisdiction of French courts] and organization of our defence system better tailored to the needs of our time, and a French-style sovereign fund to help our companies develop and protect them.
Thanks to an unprecedented investment plan, we’re going to be able not just to carry through the digital revolution, give everyone broadband access, digitize our books so our language and culture can continue spanning the world, but also create 20,000 places in special boarding schools (internats d’excellence) to restore genuine equality of opportunity and inject substantial funding into our higher education and research in order to meet the skills challenge.
Thanks to the Hadopi Act (1) to be implemented in 2010, our creators and artists are going to be protected.
Thanks to the Grenelle Environment Forum, we are going to be able to take up the challenge of protecting our environment. This is a field where it’s very difficult to change mindsets and behaviours. But I’m not a man who gives up at the first hurdle, and environmental taxes which allow the taxing of pollution and shift the tax burden away from work are a major issue. As soon as 20 January, the government will present new legislation to encourage consumers to consume better and producers to produce “green”.
A great many reforms have been carried out. I know that they have upset habits and before producing their effects have sometimes aroused concerns. But who can believe that in this shifting world, inertia is an alternative? We still have a lot of work to do. I shall take the lead in this with the Prime Minister and the government in a dialogue and with a view to ensuring fairness. In 2010, we are going to have to reduce unemployment and exclusion, cut our current expenditure so that we can increase our spending on up-and-coming sectors, simplify our overcumbersome, too complicated and too expensive local government organization, consolidate our pension system, whose financial sustainability it’s my duty to ensure, take up the challenge of dependency which in the coming decades will be one of the most painful problems confronting our families. In 2010 we will be reforming our justice system so that it more effectively protects freedoms and pays more attention to victims.
My dear compatriots, even though the ordeals aren’t over, 2010 will be a year of renewal. The efforts we have been making for two-and-half years are going to bear fruit.
At this extremely crucial moment we must remain united as we were at the height of the crisis. This unity allowed us to take the initiative and carry others along with us. The ideas France defends are going to gain acceptance in the quest for a new world order: more balance, more regulation and greater justice and peace. These ideas impose on us a duty of exemplarity.
Let us respect one another, make the effort to understand each other, avoid words and attitudes which wound. Let’s be capable of debating without tearing each other apart, insulting each other, or becoming disunited.
A France which has closed ranks, has confidence in herself and looks at the future as the promise of an achievement, that’s the wish I make for our country.
To each of you, my dear compatriots, I send all my wishes for happiness in the coming year, with a special thought for our soldiers, separated from their families, who are risking their lives to defend our values and guarantee our secuity.
To our overseas compatriots I want to express my determination that the Republic will honour the promise of equality and dignity which it has not sufficiently honoured in the past.
And to the most vulnerable among us, those whom age has weakened, those whom the accidents of life have sorely tried, I want this evening to say that they won’t be abandoned. In the face of isolation, solitude, so widespread in our modern societies, I should like 2010 to be the year when we restore meaning to the beautiful word “fraternity”, which is part of our republican motto.
My dear compatriots,
Long live the Republic and long live France!
(1) The Hadopi Act gives judges the power to authorize the suspension of Internet access to individuals who illegally download repeatedly after being warned to stop.