New year greeting/French people
Paris, December 31, 2010
My dear compatriots,
2010 is drawing to a close. I know it’s been a tough year for many of you. The effects of the economic and financial crisis, which began three years ago, have continued to be felt and many people have lost their jobs, only exacerbating the sense of injustice felt by workers who were in no way responsible for the crisis.
However, thanks to the work of the French, their courage, their ability to adapt, the strength of our economy and the advantages of our social model, the recession was less severe and shorter than what many of our partners experienced.
And 2011 looks hopeful. Growth is returning. The major reforms under way are starting to bear fruit. Our universities – autonomous at last – are opening themselves up and modernizing like never before. Our researchers have been given huge financial resources thanks to the “big loan”. Our companies are making full use of the crédit d’impôt recherche [R&D tax credit] to innovate. Over five million employees worked tax-free overtime, as much for themselves as for the companies employing them, allowing us to support spending power despite the crisis. Our pension system was shielded from the threat of bankruptcy, which was inevitable had we done nothing. It’s our elders’ pensions which were saved and, for the first time, France was able to carry through a major reform without violence and without it being blocked, thanks to the minimum service mechanism, which worked well, and to the spirit of responsibility of the French people, who were well aware that this step, however painful, was unavoidable. I want to pay tribute to their maturity and collective understanding.
Europe has managed to face up to the storm – admittedly, not fully enough and often not quickly enough – but Europe has held firm and Europe has protected us.
My dear compatriots, don’t believe those who propose that we abandon the euro. To isolate France would be madness. The end of the euro would be the end of Europe. I shall fight with all my might against that backward step, which would mean contempt for 60 years of the European enterprise that have brought peace and fraternity to our continent. I say this all the more emphatically because I’ve always campaigned for Community preference and I’ve always fought for the protection of our industry, for reciprocity and an end to naivety in trade talks with our main partners. Europe is essential to our future, our identity and our values.
My deepest conviction for 2011 is that we must continue tirelessly to reinforce our strengths and eliminate our weaknesses by being more competitive, better training our young people, working better and reducing our public spending and deficits, or else see our independence seriously threatened. Let’s look at what’s happened in Europe. Those countries which have sought to live above their means without thinking of tomorrow have taken a heavy toll. My first duty is to protect France in that respect. So France will stick to her commitments by balancing her books. I won’t compromise on that aim.
I know 2012 will be a very important electoral year. But it’s 2011 now: we can’t afford the luxury of a year of pre-electoral immobility while the world moves ahead at an astounding speed. So 2011 must be a productive year for the French. Difficulty is no barrier when the nation’s interest and French people’s common good are at stake.
My duty is to prioritize the general interest under all circumstances. To the last minute of my mandate, I shall follow no other rule. So we’ll continue to carry out reforms, because that’s the only way to protect France and the French. Protect them from dependency, because everyone has the right to their dignity in the face of old age. Protect them from offshoring, by harmonizing our taxation with our German neighbours. Protect them from daily more brutal violence by multiple offenders by opening our magistrates’ courts to people’s juries. That way it’ll be the people who can give their opinion on how severely we respond to behaviour which exasperates the country.
With Prime Minister François Fillon, in whom I have full confidence, and with the government we must work tirelessly throughout this year to rebuild prosperity for France, which will enable us to create the jobs we need. I shall do my duty by listening, by talking but, when the time comes, by taking the decisions required, in a spirit of truth and justice.
I shall do so with scrupulous respect for our most cherished republican principles. Firstly, laïcité (1) and the rejection of communautarisme (2): the law banning the burqa will be applied in both the spirit and the letter. Reminding everyone that there can be no rights without corresponding responsibilities: school is obligatory and truancy is unacceptable because it condemns to failure those who fall prey to it. Respect for the law is inviolable and you don’t treat it with contempt, just as the respect due to France by those we take in is a requirement. Equality of opportunity and justice, which are neither egalitarianism nor charity and must make us reassert the value of work as an absolutely inviolable priority. And finally, freedom, which must go hand in hand with the respect everyone owes to others.
Throughout the year, my dear compatriots, France will bear the heavy responsibility of the twofold Presidency of the G20 and the G8. She will uphold the idea of a more regulated, less brutal world where interdependence forces everyone to listen more to others. France will robustly defend her interests without ever giving up her values on multilateralism, respect for human rights, the fight for development and the imperative of protecting our planet.
My dear compatriots, I want to send you my wishes, my most sincere, warmest wishes for a happy 2011.
Particularly in my thoughts are those suffering hardship and distress, especially our hostages, for whom we’ll go on doing our utmost until the day of their release, and for our soldiers spending this New Year far from their families, risking their lives to defend our values and freedom.
My dear fellow citizens,
Long live the Republic and long live France!./.
(1) Laïcité goes beyond the concept of secularism, embracing the strict neutrality of the State.
(2) splitting society into communities.