Opinion published in the Financial Times / Ma tribune parue dans le Financial Times

A lire ci-dessous, ma tribune parue aujourd’hui dans le Financial Times / You can read below my opinion published in the Financial Times.

J’y combats le « French bashing » et souligne les réformes fortes et ambitieuses menées et à venir en matière de compétitivité, de croissance, d’emplois, ou encore de réduction des déficits.

 

You can be both French and fiscally responsible

By Pierre Moscovici

 

The doom-mongers are wrong: France is modernising and reforming. But it is doing so in its own way. The country regularly comes under fire from those who want it to conform to an economic and social model that is not its own. They would gladly dismiss, with a stroke of the pen, its history and its culture – what sets it apart, its identity. France is changing but in the French way.

The government is working round the clock to turn the economy round, and it knows that it must speed up the pace. We did think that we would pull out of the crisis faster. We have achieved results but they are still precarious. Our economy is growing again but not fast enough. Unemployment is slowing but it is still too high, and taxes and social security contributions may be hampering long-term growth.

President François Hollande asked us last week to launch a new phase under the rallying cry “faster, further and stronger”.

This is why President François Hollande asked us last week to launch a new phase under the rallying cry “faster, further and stronger”. Building on policy implemented in the past 18 months, it will take the battle for jobs to a new level, with clear objectives in mind: making life easier for businesses, cutting red tape, decreasing public spending and boosting employment.

France will take a multipronged approach to improving things for businesses. By 2017, we will eliminate €30bn in employer contributions for family allowances; business regulations will be radically streamlined; and we have a detailed plan for putting an end to France’s impenetrable and disorienting tax environment.

Moreover, not only is France borrowing at historically low rates, but the government has pledged to cut public spending by €50bn between 2015 and 2017 – in addition to the €15bn in savings scheduled for 2014.

These measures will be enacted with clear timelines. Politically, their legitimacy will be reinforced by a vote of confidence in parliament.

One can be French and take fiscal consolidation seriously. There is no contradiction between being a social democrat and being fully committed to restoring competitiveness.

These reforms all point towards one goal: bolstering growth and stimulating job creation. It is possible to be progressive and still turn to the private sector to help stem unemployment. One can be French and take fiscal consolidation seriously. There is no contradiction between being a social democrat and being fully committed to restoring competitiveness.

Our renewed zeal will come as no surprise to those who, free of preconceptions and bias, have been observing France over the past 20 months. It is merely the next stage in our strategy. Since President Hollande came to power in 2012 we have cut deficits at a pace that has maintained growth and allowed us to finance our key policies.

Labour market reforms in May last year introduced a groundbreaking, and very French, concoction of flexibility for businesses and job security. I myself led efforts to restructure how France finances its economy by establishing a Public Investment Bank – an idea that is now about to be implemented in the UK. In addition, for the first time, the country’s abundant private savings are being used to bolster our manufacturing industry. This is a clear policy line that will be implemented with a firm hand.

As in any democracy, our plans have their champions and their opponents. Political opposition, however, is not the same thing as a knee-jerk rejection of a country that still has great appeal and credibility. This is borne out by the fact that France is America’s first choice for European investment: the total stock of foreign direct investment currently stands at €60bn.

These reforms are not and will not be carried out by slashing our social safety net. This is not a sign of weakness but rather a reflection of France’s commitment to its values.

These reforms are not and will not be carried out by slashing our social safety net. This is not a sign of weakness but rather a reflection of France’s commitment to its values. Our refusal to apply ready-made solutions does not reflect a lack of ambition but our belief that France needs to give voice, both in Europe and beyond, to the words of the national motto: liberté, égalité, fraternité. In economic terms: freedom, fairness, solidarity.

We are moving forwards and we will do so even faster in the coming year. France is a great nation.

We are moving forwards and we will do so even faster in the coming year. France is a great nation. It has great infrastructure, high productivity and a dynamic population: it is equipped for the future. We are the world’s fifth-largest economy and the second-largest in Europe.

France deserves better than being subject to preconceived ideas and French-bashing – it deserves the world’s trust.

We will remain and thrive in this position if we can successfully carry out the reforms that will make us even more competitive. This is the desire of Mr Hollande and it is the government’s responsibility. France deserves better than being subject to preconceived ideas and French-bashing – it deserves the world’s trust.

The writer is finance minister of France