2019 is a "decisive year", says President in New Year address
President’s New Year greetings – New Year’s Eve broadcast to the French by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic (excerpts)
Paris, 31 December 2018
The Prime Minister, along with his government and Parliament, accomplished a great deal for the country in 2018. I won’t list everything here, but many radical changes – previously deemed impossible, such as those to the labour market and the railways – were successfully carried out. They took strong measures vis-à-vis our schools, our universities, apprenticeships and sandwich courses, and our country’s attractiveness.
They laid the foundations for an ambitious strategy to improve the way our hospitals, clinics and doctors are organized, to fight global warming, eradicate extreme poverty and make it possible for our fellow citizens with disabilities to find their place in society.
Results can’t be immediate, and impatience – which I share – is no justification for giving up.
Over the coming months the government will have to continue this work not just to anchor many of these reforms in our daily lives but also make radical changes to unemployment benefit rules so that there is a greater incentive to go back into work, to the way the public sector is organized so that it’s more effective, and to our pensions system so that it’s fairer. (…)
But we’ve also experienced deep rifts, and anger erupted which had come from far back; anger at injustice, at the path taken by a sometimes incomprehensible globalization; anger at an administrative system which has become too complex and uncaring; anger, too, at the far-reaching changes challenging our society’s identity and purpose.
I think this anger said one thing, whatever excesses and extreme behaviour it provoked: we haven’t given up, our country wants to build a better future based on our ability to devise new ways of doing things and being together. (…)
It would be dangerous if our situation made us ignore the world around us. On the contrary, everything is connected!
Here too, great certainties are being undermined. The international order built in 1945 is being upset by new powers and abused by some of our allies.
Throughout Europe, extremist parties are on the rise, while there are more and more interventions by foreign state and private powers.
Large-scale migration worries us and is being exploited by demagogues, at the very time we need to be coming up with new responses to the phenomenon, which won’t stop tomorrow, given the world’s population growth.
The battles against global warming and for biodiversity are more necessary than ever, but are being hampered. Together we’ll overcome national selfishness, individual interests and obscurantism.
Islamist terrorism also continues to be rife; it is changing and operating on every continent. A few weeks ago in Strasbourg, it struck again, as it did in Trèbes and Paris this past year.
Finally, far-reaching technological changes, foremost among which is artificial intelligence, are rapidly transforming the way we care for ourselves, travel, educate ourselves and produce.
As you can see, we’re experiencing several unprecedented upheavals: ultra-liberal financial capitalism, too often guided by the short term and the greed of a few, is coming to an end; we have a sense of unease in Western civilization and our European dream is in crisis. (…)
This is why, my dear compatriots, I think that 2019 is a decisive year, and I want to make three vows for us.
Firstly, a vow of truth. Yes, urging us in 2019 not to forget that we don’t build anything on lies or ambiguities. Yet I must say that for years we’ve been stuck in an often blatant denial of reality. We can’t work less and earn more, lower our taxes and increase our spending, or not change any of our habits and breathe purer air! (…)
We live in one of the world’s greatest economies, our infrastructure is some of the best in the world, we pay nothing – or virtually nothing – to send our children to school, we have some of the cheapest healthcare among developed countries with access to excellent doctors, every year we spend on our public sector administration and investment more than half of what we produce. So let’s stop… let’s stop discrediting ourselves and making out that France is a country where solidarity doesn’t exist and where we’ve got to spend ever more money!
We can and must do better: to ensure that our public services are maintained wherever we need them, that doctors move to places where they’re lacking (…), that we can have a mobile phone or Internet connection wherever we live and work. And, above all, that we can live in safety and peace everywhere. I’ll make this my business personally, every day. (…)
This vow of truth is, at heart, a desire for everyone to listen, talk and show humility. (…)
My second vow for 2019 is one of dignity.
I’m utterly convinced that every citizen is necessary for the nation’s project.
Many of our fellow citizens don’t feel respected. They feel their lives are inhibited. I’m thinking of mothers raising their children alone and unable to make ends meet; I’m thinking of our farmers, who want only to make a decent living from their work, and our retired people on modest pensions who are still helping their children and have parents to support.
We’ve begun to find solutions for them and I know they’re impatient, legitimately so, but it will be necessary to go further.
This means allowing everyone, whatever their neighbourhood or family, to have a better education, thanks to which they’ll be able to access better jobs to build their and their families’ lives. It means making sure that everyone has rights in society and expecting them to shoulder their duties. (...)
But dignity, my dear compatriots, also means respect for everyone. And I have to say that recently I’ve seen unthinkable things and heard the unacceptable. We live freely in our country only because the generations before us fought so they wouldn’t be subject to despotism or any tyranny. And this freedom calls for Republican order; it demands respect for everyone and for all opinions, which some justify by claiming to speak on behalf of the people – but which people? From where? How? (…) The people is sovereign. It votes at elections, when it chooses representatives who make the rules precisely because we are a state based on the rule of law. (…)
Finally, I want to make a third and final vow. A vow of hope.
Hope in ourselves, as a people.
Hope in our shared future.
Hope in our Europe.
I believe that we have within ourselves a health-giving energy if we find the way to restore trust in ourselves and between one another. (…)
Regaining control of our lives means choosing our food, ensuring fair taxation, protecting ourselves from our enemies, investing to innovate and devising a common solution to tackle migration. I wholeheartedly believe in this Europe which can better protect people and restore our hope.
In May, we’ll have to vote on this all-too-important European choice. (…)
I’m proud of our country, proud of all French women and all French men; determined to lead every current battle and those to come, because I believe in us; I believe in this French and European hope we can bring.
So my dear compatriots, I wish you a Happy New Year 2019.
Long live the Republic and long live France!./.