Mon interview par le Financial Times « I’ve got a duty of objectivity »

Je vous invite à lire ci-dessous l’article publié aujourd’hui dans le Financial Times suite à mon interview par le quotidien économique britannique.

“I’ve got a duty of objectivity”

 

By Peter Spiegel in Brussels

If Pierre Moscovici harbours any resentment for the intense campaign waged by the German government against his candidacy for the EU’s top economic job, he certainly does not show it.

“One thing was clear to me, and that was there was nothing personal,” said the former French finance minister of Berlin’s lobbying effort. This included the very public musing by Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble, his one-time counterpart, about whether France deserved the post given Paris’ multiyear breach of EU deficit limits.

It was legitimate, the way that those questions were raised in the German public debate. It’s also necessary now that we move forward.

“I imagine he wondered – and other people in Germany, too – whether this job should be given to a Frenchman due to the situation in France,” Mr Moscovici said. “It was legitimate, the way that those questions were raised in the German public debate. It’s also necessary now that we move forward.”

Just how Mr Moscovici moves forward as the EU’s new economic affairs commissioner will be one of the most intensely scrutinised questions facing Jean-Claude Juncker’s incoming European Commission when it takes office in November.

Mr Moscovici will have to pass judgment on a French budget he presided over less than six months ago. On the day he was named to the EU post last week his successor announced that Paris would exceed the EU’s deficit limits again next year, despite promising to get below the ceiling of 3 per cent of economic output.

Mr Moscovici also becomes the central player in a debate that threatens to divide the common currency’s north from south in ways not seen since the height of the eurozone crisis: whether Brussels should loosen its tough fiscal rules to spur growth.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Moscovici insisted that while he would not check his nationality or his centre-left politics at the door, he vowed to be as tough on France as any other country, saying the EU’s existing fiscal rules would be his guidepost.

Flexibility is not indulgence, flexibility is not complacency, flexibility is not weakness.

“We’re not obliged to apply the rules stupidly or rigidly,” Mr Moscovici said. “We can have a dose, a certain dose of flexibility. But flexibility is not indulgence, flexibility is not complacency, flexibility is not weakness. Flexibility cannot be applied to one single country due to one single status.”

At the same time, Mr Moscovici said he supported President François Hollande’s current budget plans – as a still-sitting French MP, he was preparing to back the government in a confidence vote on Tuesday – though he insisted that would not cloud his objectivity when the new budget is presented for the official European Commission evaluation next month.

“Those reforms – which lead as well to cuts in public expenditure and help a pro-business attitude and structural reforms – have to be made,” he said. “Are they sufficient? The commissioner will have to estimate that. But it’s better than nothing.”

Officials close to Mr Juncker said even though Mr Hollande lobbied hard for Mr Moscovici to get the post, the ultimate decision was part of a broader “Nixon to China” strategy in which several commissioners may be forced to take tough stances against their home countries’ interest, including Britain’s Lord Hill in the financial services portfolio and Germany’s Günther Oettinger overseeing internet regulation.

At a news conference announcing his new commission, Mr Juncker hinted at that strategy, noting that Mr Moscovici would be “well-placed” to explain the “substance, the justification” of EU budget decisions to the French public.

I’ve got a duty of objectivity.

“If I was too indulgent or complacent to France, my credibility and the credibility of the commission would be immediately ruined,” Mr Moscovici said. “This is something I must absolutely avoid, and I will avoid. That doesn’t mean I have a duty of ingratitude; that is not the point. But I’ve got a duty of objectivity.”

Despite Mr Moscovici’s promises, Mr Juncker has decided to give two former prime ministers with reputations for fiscal discipline – Finland’s Jyrki Katainen and Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis – vice-president slots with responsibility for overseeing economic policy.

Many in Brussels view the move as a way for two allies of Mr Schäuble, who has resisted any loosening of EU budget rules, to box in the Frenchman.

While Mr Moscovici acknowledges the three men may disagree on policy, he said he was unconcerned by the new structure, adding that Mr Juncker has already moved to pre-empt internecine disputes by tasking the trio to jointly produce a paper on the new commission’s view on what “flexibility” in the existing budget rules really means.

When you are the commission, you must have the commission language.

“To me, one thing is clear: We cannot fight against each other,” he said. “There can’t be bureaucratic competition. We have to have the same language. We will have the same language. You cannot have a conservative language and a progressive language about that. When you are the commission, you must have the commission language.”

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.

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Interview par le Financial Times « Pierre Moscovici rejects gloomy view of French economy »

A lire ci-dessous, l’article du Financial Times publié aujourd’hui à la suite de mon interview par le quotidien économique britannique.

Pierre Moscovici rejects gloomy view of French economy

By Hugh Carnegy in Paris

Pierre Moscovici, France’s finance minister, unwittingly sparked a national clamour when he acknowledged in August that the French were “fed up” with the country’s high taxes.

Now he himself is clearly fed up with a wave of pessimism that has some economists worried that sclerosis in France is holding back a broader recovery in the crisis-battered eurozone.

“France has truly emerged from recession,” he insists. “Of course, I would like to see the growth rate increase, but I wish we could stop this attitude of systematic doubt about the French economy.”

This tendency to what ministers call “French bashing” comes from inside the country as well as outside, admits Mr Moscovici.

“But there is a more negative view about France abroad than it deserves. France is the fifth-biggest economy in the world. It has come through the crisis better than most in the eurozone.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Moscovici reels off a catalogue of measures the government has taken since President François Hollande took the reins 18 months ago.

The budget deficit is being reduced. Public spending savings worth €50bn are programmed for the next four years. Tax breaks of €20bn are being given to employers to cut labour costs. There has been labour market and pension reform. An overhaul of unemployment benefit is in the pipeline.

”Don’t underestimate these decisions,” says Mr Moscovici.

Michel Martinez, chief euro economist at Société Générale, agrees that the government has done more on reform than it is given credit for.

But he worries that what he calls “baby steps” are not enough to reverse “a very slow deterioration process”. He adds: “France is the average student in the class. It only does just enough to graduate to the next level.”

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Mon déplacement à Washington en images

Je me suis rendu à Washington du jeudi 18 au dimanche 21 avril, dans le cadre des réunions de printemps Fonds monétaire international (FMI) / Banque mondiale et du G20.

Retrouvez ci-dessous les images de ce déplacement, qui a notamment permis d’obtenir des avancées en matière de transparence dans les échanges internationaux.

1. Jeudi 18 avril : Colloque organisé par le Financial Times et la Fondation Bertelsmann, sur le thème « Hotspot Eurozone : Is the crisis over ? »

 

2. Jeudi 18 avril : Mon interview sur BloombergTV pour promouvoir l’attractivité de la France :

Un extrait de cet entretien : http://www.bloomberg.com/video/moscovici-says-french-economy-is-not-a-bomb-ILf8E2w4QCWIHOs~GeaeRw.html

 

3. Jeudi 18 avril : Réunion des Ministres des finances et gouverneurs de Banques centrales du G20, au siège du FMI à Washington : à l’initiative de la France, le G20 va reconnaître l’échange automatique d’informations comme un standard international, constituant donc une avancée décisive.

 

4. Jeudi 18 avril : Conférence de presse :

 

5. Vendredi 19 avril : « Early warning exercise », débat sur les différents scénarios pour l’économie mondiale, au FMI :

 

6. Vendredi 19 avril : Rendez vous avec Gene Sperling, Conseiller économique du Président des États-Unis Barack Obama, à la Maison Blanche :

 

7. Samedi 20 avril : Conseil des Gouverneurs du FMI : « comment donner de la force à une reprise économique ? »

 

8. Samedi 20 avril : Conseil des Gouverneurs du FMI : deuxième session intitulée « Préparer le futur ». Je suis intervenu sur la croissance, l’emploi  et la gouvernance mondiale :

 

 

Classement

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Classement

Il y a quelques jours, le « Financial Times » a présenté son classement des ministres des finances des dix neuf principaux pays européens. La note qui m’a été attribuée m’a dans un premier temps interpelé : 16ème sur 19, pour un homme qui a l’esprit compétitif et qu’on dit parfois, de façon d’ailleurs ambivalente, « bon élève », ce n’est pas réjouissant et aurait pu m’inquiéter. A y regarder de plus près, je me suis d’abord consolé, puis franchement amusé.

Le rôle d’un ministre des finances est d’abord d’inspirer confiance, de porter une politique économique solide, de rassurer les agents économiques, nationaux et européens.

Un mot d’abord, sur la méthode. Créé en 2005, ce classement attribue une note en fonction de 3 critères : les compétences économiques, la crédibilité sur les marchés, l’habileté politique. Les résultats qui me sont attribués ne sont pas mauvais, sur les deux premiers critères – somme toute pas les moins importants – puisque j’y pointe, selon des estimations qui peuvent au demeurant se discuter, à la 9ème place. Ce qui pêche, c’est, mais oui, l’habileté politique, pour laquelle je serais le 17ème ministre évalué. Le contraire, je l’avoue, m’aurait davantage préoccupé. Le rôle d’un ministre des finances est, en effet, d’abord d’inspirer confiance, de porter une politique économique solide, de rassurer les agents économiques, nationaux et européens. L’habileté politique est une notion plus subjective, donc moins probante. Ajoutons à cela que les « nouveaux » ministres sont traditionnellement mal notés. Ainsi Christine Lagarde était elle 12ème et dernière de ce classement, considérée comme la « pire ministre » de l’union européenne après ses débuts en 2007, avant d’être première en 2010. Tous les espoirs me seraient dès lors permis.

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