Paris, 31 December 2012
My dear compatriots,
In keeping with a fine tradition, I extend to every one of you my warmest wishes for the new year.
In May 2012, you entrusted me with the task of leading our country at a particularly serious time, with a historic crisis, unemployment which has been rising relentlessly for nearly two years and record debt.
I am fully aware of your concerns. They are legitimate. And I have no intention of hiding from you the difficulties in store for us. They are serious.
But this evening I want to tell you that I have confidence in our future: the Euro Area has been safeguarded and Europe has finally put in place the stability and growth instruments it was lacking. Only six months ago, this result seemed unachievable. It has been achieved.
I have confidence, above all, in France. I know the skill of our entrepreneurs and our workforce. My duty, my first duty, my only duty is to ensure that our country moves forward and our young people regain hope.
This is why Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government and I have taken three major decisions since my election.
The first concerns restoring our public accounts to a sound footing. I want to get France out of debt. An effort has been called for. I know what this means after already so many years of sacrifices. I assure you that with every euro levied there will be extremely tough measures to cut unnecessary public spending. French people’s money is precious. You all work hard to earn it. So it must be used by an exemplary, thrifty state.
The second decision concerns the competitiveness pact. In 2013, I want to restore companies’ room for manoeuvre with a €20 billion tax credit to allow them to recruit, invest and export.
The third concerns bringing finance under control: the Public Investment Bank is being created, the forthcoming banking act will protect us from speculation and the financial transaction tax will be introduced at European level next year.
This forward step hasn’t been taken without jolts and setbacks. I acknowledge this. But the timetable I have set means carrying out the reforms now in order to find a faster, more effective way out of the crisis.
These decisions were essential, they had been put off for too long. I took them in a spirit of fair-mindedness.
Fair taxation, first of all. Dividend income is now taxed, like earned income. And more will always be asked from those who have the most. This is the purpose of the exceptional tax on the highest incomes, which will be adjusted in line with the Constitutional Council’s decision, without changing its objective.
Social justice, with increases in the SMIC (1), RSA (2) and allocation de rentrée scolaire (3), and the right to retire at 60 for those who began their working lives early.
Inter-generational justice, with priority going to national education, with more and better trained teachers.
So 2012 was the year when we began the recovery together.
2013 will be the year when everyone mobilizes to make it succeed.
We will strive to achieve a single goal: reverse the unemployment curve within a year. We will have to achieve this, no matter what.
With 150,000 future jobs for those young people furthest from the labour market. With the inter-generational contracts which will allow us to link the experience of senior workers with the expectation of young people. These will come into force tomorrow.
With vocational training, which will be reformed to give priority to supporting unemployed people into work.
But the state isn’t the only player. This is why the government has opened the negotiation on job security.
Its aim? To give workers more stability and companies more flexibility. In short, to dispel a double fear: the fear of redundancy for workers and the fear of hiring for employers. This negotiation, if it succeeds, will be an opportunity for France. I trust the employers’ and employees’ organizations to face up to their responsibilities. Failing this, I will shoulder them.
There we are, the course is set: everything to encourage employment, competitiveness and growth.
We will hold this course, despite all obstacles. I shall not deviate from it. Not because of stubbornness, but conviction. It is in France’s interest.
To prepare for the future, our country needs to invest in all areas: in our manufacturing and agricultural sectors, housing, the environment, health, research and new technology. I have therefore asked the government to propose a public and private investment strategy for modernizing France by 2020.
Dear compatriots from Metropolitan and Overseas France and abroad, we have all the means to succeed, provided we agree on what is essential. And even though we may debate the major issues in society now and again – and this will happen in 2013 –, France is France when she makes headway on equal rights, including marriage for everyone; on democracy, including the ban on holding more than one public office; and on respect for human dignity, including dignity at the end of life.
France is France, too, when she upholds her values in the world.
* * *
She did so in Afghanistan. Her mission is complete. As I had promised, all our combat forces returned home at Christmas. I express my gratitude to our soldiers for their bravery and I pay tribute to the memory of those who died for France. There are 88 of them. And I’m not forgetting the wounded: there are over 700 of them.
It is again in the name of these values that France is supporting opposition to the dictatorship in Syria, and, in Mali, she is supporting the African people in their fight against the terrorist threat.
Particularly in my thoughts are our hostages, and their families, who are living in anxiety. May they know that everything is being done to secure their release, without in any way conceding our principles.
One of our strengths is solidarity. We have a duty to show it to oppressed peoples. We have a duty to show it to those, in our midst, who are most frail, the sick, the isolated, those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable and lonely. They aren’t charity cases, they’re citizens, bruised, for a time, by life.
A great nation like ours does itself credit by being able to combine competitiveness and solidarity. Performance and protection. Success and sharing.
It is the ambition of this reconciled France, confident in herself, that I take forward for the new year. It is this ambition which gives meaning to the effort everyone is making.
Long live the Republic!
Long live France!./.
(1) index-linked guaranteed minimum wage.
(2) revenu de solidarité active – inclusion income support comparable to the US EITC (earned income tax credit) and British WFTC (working families’ tax credit), providing additional income support for anyone on minimum social benefits who starts a job, or new job.
(3) allowance paid to parents to help cover costs incurred at the beginning of the school year.