France’s Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne made a speech to the Assemblée nationale yesterday (July 6) setting out the new political programme after the appointment of her government earlier this week.
“In addressing you, I speak to France,” she told the lower house of the French Parliament as she made her discours de politique générale, which covered themes such as spending power, pensions, taxes and the full nationalisation of EDF.
The speech lasted for an hour and 27 minutes, and Ms Borne was interrupted on several occasions by rowdy MPs.
We look at key points from her speech.
The government’s lack of absolute majority
President Emmanuel Macron’s government only achieved a relative majority at the legislative elections, failing to secure the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority.
This means that the government will find it more difficult to pass legislation if opposition parties vote against it.
On this subject, Ms Borne said that she hopes to be the “indefatigable builder of majorities of compromise”.
“A relative majority is not a synonym of relative action,” she continued, adding: “I do not correspond to the photofit [prime minister] that some were expecting. I am not a woman of grand statements and small words. I believe in three things: listening, action and results.
“It is time to enter into an era of forces which build together [...] work for the French people who invite us to adopt new practices and the active search for compromise.
“French people are asking us to speak to each other, to speak more effectively with each other and to develop together.”
Ms Borne also confirmed that an emergency bill would be presented in the Conseil des ministres cabinet meeting today (July 7), with the aim of protecting the population’s spending power.
She stated that the bouclier tarifaire price freeze on gas and electricity prices would continue, as has previously been announced, that pensions and social benefits would be boosted, rents would be capped and people who depend on their car for work would receive help towards their fuel bills.
Ms Borne also confirmed one of President Macron’s reelection plans: raising the retirement age from 62 years.
This would come with a minimum pension of €1,100.
She said: “Our social model is a paradox: it is one of the most generous and also one where we work for the shortest amount of time.
“Progressively, we will have to work a little longer. Our country needs reforms to the pension system.”
Although previously, the president has suggested that people would eventually need to work until the age of 64 or 65, Ms Borne did not give a number during her speech.
Nevertheless, her statement provoked boos from left-wing Nupes coalition MPs.
Ms Borne has previously said that pension reforms were not “a priority”, but that they would be discussed from September.
EDF fully renationalised
Ms Borne announced that EDF would become state property once again, saying that it would be “100% renationalised”.
She also defended the government’s decision to maintain nuclear energy production. “Our ecological transition goes via nuclear [power], a decarbonated and unrestrained energy.”
Finally, she said that the MaPrimeRénov eco-friendly home renovation scheme would be extended to cover 700,000 buildings per year.
No tax rises
Ms Borne’s speech also touched on income tax, which she said would not be rising.
She confirmed that the redevance audiovisuelle TV licence fee would be scrapped, meaning that 23 million households in metropolitan France will no longer have to pay the €138 each year.
School and teachers
Ms Borne said that the government wishes to return to “the fundamentals” when it comes to education: “reading, counting, and even computer coding”.
She announced that there would be half an hour of sport each day in primary schools, and that the pass culture allowing older pupils access to cultural sites would be extended to children in 6ème (11 and 12-year-olds).
Childhood will be “a priority of this quinquennat [five-year term]” she said.
Ms Borne added that there would be a “recalculation of teacher salaries” and “better support” for them.
200 new gendarmerie brigades
Ms Borne confirmed that the government would oversee the creation of 200 new gendarmerie brigades and 11 new mobile law enforcement units.
“A lack of safety is a type of inequality,” she said, adding that this “affects neighbourhoods and areas where some look to impose their laws over those of the Republic.
“Shame on those who attack our police officers and gendarmes, those who protect us.”
A further recruitment campaign will aim to hire 8,500 new judges and other staff employed in the delivery of justice.
A new law on agriculture
The prime minister added that the government would develop “a law [offering] guidance for the future of agriculture,” to create “a new generation of farmers”.
Reaction from opposition parties
Ms Borne’s speech was followed by responses by opposition parties.
Rassemblement National’s Marine Le Pen said that keeping Élisabeth Borne as prime minister even after the president failed to secure a majority in the legislative elections was a “political provocation” and that Mr Macron had not “understood the injunction made to him”.
Nupes’ Mathilde Panot claimed that the president had been “elected by default”, and that by refusing to submit to a confidence vote yesterday “Élisabeth Borne has stamped on the votes of French people”.
France’s vote de confiance is largely symbolic and is optionally put forward by the prime minister at the beginning of a parliamentary term to give lawmakers the chance to express their support or opposition to the government.
This vote is optional but is usually offered as a way to legitimise the prime minister’s choice of government.
Ms Borne did not offer MPs the chance to take part in this vote yesterday, for the first time since 1993.
“Madame prime minister, you will have to submit to one or remove yourself” Ms Panot said.
Right-wing Les Républicains’ Olivier Marleix said that his party would not stand for “compromise or little agreements,” but that it would “vote for all the bills which move in the same direction as national momentum”.