President Emmanuel Macron has called for “unity” from his government, as he warns that France is “at the end of [its age of] abundance” and “insouciance”, due to the crises caused by climate change, international conflict and continued supply chain issues.
The president was addressing ministers returning from summer breaks at the beginning of the first Conseil des ministres Cabinet meeting of the autumn.
‘The end of abundance, of foregone conclusions’
He said: “The time that we are living in [...] can appear to be structured by a series of crises. And it could seem that it is our destiny to be perpetually managing crises and emergencies.
“We are living at the end of what could appear to be [an age] of abundance, of endless cash flow, for which we must now face the consequences in terms of state finances, of an abundance of products and technology which appeared to be perpetually available.
Emmanuel Macron annonce "un séminaire gouvernemental" dès la semaine prochaine "pour structurer les grands chantiers" de la rentrée pic.twitter.com/rXD7lmTjMX— BFMTV (@BFMTV) August 24, 2022
“We lived through [this stoppage of supply] during the Covid period, and we are reliving it now even more intensely.
“The breaking of value chains, the shortage of this or that material or technology, the end of an abundance of land and of resources, and that of water as well, it is all reappearing.”
‘A huge shift’
President Macron added that in addition to the shortages brought about by the pandemic, climate change and inflation, the era we are living through “is also the end of foregone conclusions.
“When you look at France, Europe and the rest of the world, democracy and human rights, the teleology of our world order over the last few years has demolished some things we took for granted,” he said, making reference to the rise of “authoritarian regimes”.
“It is also the end, for those that had it, of a type of insouciance. War began again in Europe six months ago to the day. For many generations in our country, war was a reality which no longer existed.
“At the same time, the climate crisis and all its effects are there, tangibly, and new risks are appearing all the time, like cyber attacks.
“We are living through a huge shift,” he said.
‘Our future requires effort’
“Our way of life, the way of life we are used to, has a cost, and defending it will mean sacrifices.
“Our freedom, our future requires effort, cultural, technological, economic fights that we must lead. We will only win them through effort; no one will offer them to us on a plate.
Mr Macron added that France must develop independence in terms of fuel and energy supply. “We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, double the efforts we have made over the past five years, transform the country even more quickly so that it can confront these changes.”
The president then announced that next week would see a “great governmental meeting” aimed at “structuring the key areas of work” to be prioritised this autumn, including security, justice, labour and energy.
For example, the development of bills relating to energy supply and consumption will be accelerated so that change can happen at a faster pace.
He called for cooperation between ministers, in order to respond to the challenges faced by the country with “seriousness and credibility”.
He also thanked French authorities, firefighters, local officials and farmers for their work in tackling the fires, storms and drought that they have had to face up to this summer.
Finally, the president recognised the work of healthcare workers, who are currently struggling under staff and resource shortages.
Following the meeting, government spokesperson Olivier Véran called for “unity” from the French nation, especially following “this summer after climate change, where even the most sceptical have realised” what it means for the population.