The great economic recovery plan
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the 2025 productive pact has never been presented yet, when it was eagerly awaited by industry. It will probably be included in the big recovery plan that the government should present in September, to help the French economy recover after the blast caused by the containment.
On the occasion of the Global Industry Connect trade fair, the representatives of the General Management of Enterprises (DGE), the Alliance industrie du futur (AIF), France Industrie and Bpifrance spoke of their recovery paths. Secretary of State Agnès Pannier-Runacher announced that the state would initiate “a broad consultation in the coming weeks” to draw up an industrial recovery plan. She recalled that he should “support investment and innovation by leveraging the digital transition ” and “make decarbonization a reality and a competitive advantage”.
Starting this summer, the new Prime Minister will have to look into the overhaul of the pension system. During the Covid-19 crisis, the executive had paused this ultra-sensitive project. But for the President of the Republic, there is no question of abandoning the reform that was already adopted at first reading in the National Assembly (thanks to article 49.3). “I am open to it being transformed,” said Emmanuel Macron in an interview with the regional press on July 3. Discussions with the social partners within the framework of the financing conference should therefore resume during the summer. Before being adopted, the text will have to be debated in the Senate. Questions hang over the calendar: during the fall, parliamentarians are monopolized by budgetary debates.
Three hot issues in energy
1 – The closure of the Cordemais coal-fired power plant
Emmanuel Macron confirmed in November 2018 that the four coal-fired power plants (Le Havre, Cordemais, Saint-Avold and Gardanne, i.e. five units of 600 MW each) will be closed by 2022. Except that the promise cannot be kept . Because of the delay in bringing into service the EPR at Flamanville (Manche), postponed to 2023 at best, and with the commissioning of the combined-gas power plant at Landivisiau (Finistère) by Total still uncertain, even if the work is well advanced, the EDF coal-fired power station at Cordemais (Loire-Atlantique) will have to remain in operation beyond 2022, until 2024, to guarantee security of supply for Brittany.
2 – The construction of six new EPRs
The Prime Minister should see arriving on his desk in mid-2021 the EDF file arguing the need and the feasibility of building six new EPRs in France. It will also have a RTE study on the possibility of a 100% renewable option. Emmanuel Macron, relayed by his environment ministers, warned that he would not take a position before the 2022 elections. But the pressures will remain strong. The sector claims more than 220,000 jobs and is in desperate need of national contracts to develop internationally.
3 – 2020 environment regulations
Already postponed to the beginning of 2021, the 2020 environment regulation (RE2020) defines the ecological rules for the construction of a new building and is the subject of strong industrial challenges and a pitched battle between electricians and gas companies. It will succeed RT2012 (thermal regulation 2012), which is rather favorable to gas. The RE2020 also poses questions of balance between materials and energy, passive and active, for its low-consumption buildings. This technical file could become political.
Other reforms to follow in the economy
For now, the new unemployment insurance rules are only postponed. Instead of entering into force on April 1, the tightening of compensation must apply on September 1. But several unions have demanded the outright cancellation of the reform while 500,000 jobs were lost in the first quarter of 2020. In June, the government announced discussions on this subject with the social partners to reach decisions during the ‘summer.
Youth employment plan
A youth employment plan is to be presented by the executive in the first half of July. The Minister of Labor will receive the social partners during the week of July 6 to discuss the details with them, but the content of this plan will be revealed by Emmanuel Macron, who makes it one of his three major projects to come. The impact of the crisis on employment in general promises to be massive, and terrible for the 700,000 to 900,000 young people who will enter the job market in the fall. In his interview with the regional press, on July 3, Emmanuel Macron confirms that “there will be financial incentives to hire and a set of measures to leave no young person without solution “. The government must arbitrate between a new reduction in social contributions and a bonus, when hiring a young person. It remains to define the age and salary limits, the level of contribution or premium, the size of the beneficiary companies, the duration of the application of the measure, taking into account the cost of these measures for public finances. Other measures should be taken to help young people, with an extension of the youth guarantee, subsidies to certain devices intended for young people in priority areas of the city, support for students who would prolong their studies… Everything must be completed for the third amending finance bill, the examination of which was interrupted on Friday 3 July due to the reshuffle.
Preserving the dynamics of training and learning
In 2019, entries into training reached a record number. In early June, in order not to break the dynamic, the government announced shock measures to encourage learning. Same strategy for vocational training: in April, the State promised to cover the educational costs of training courses followed by employees in partial activity. The Prime Minister will have to monitor the progress of these measures to stimulate employment.
Health at work
Relaunch economic activity while preventing a second wave of contamination … The executive will have to walk on a crest line. After the presentation of the deconfinement plan, the unions remained skeptical on several points: distribution of masks, consideration of arduousness, prevention of risks, etc. At the same time, employers are worried about the weight of sanitary rules. The pandemic still puts the idea of a major reform on occupational health back on the table. Several deputies from the LREM majority are working on a bill that could arrive in Parliament in late 2020 or early 2021.
Multiple industrial subjects to settle
Sectoral recovery plans
The government of Edouard Philippe had announced several plans to support the French industrial sectors, strongly affected by the health crisis. 15 billion euros must be allocated to aeronautics. The automobile will receive more than 8 billion. French tech must also obtain 1.2 billion euros, and R&D 500 million. The new government will be responsible for monitoring them, while reassuring the rail and logistics sectors, which are also calling for help. In September 2019, Edouard Philippe announced that he wanted to set up “an industrial policy” for the logistics on which France’s attractiveness in globalization depends.
The 5G dossier
At the request of the resigning government, the auctions for the allocation of 5G frequencies will take place between September 20 and 30, 2020, under the direction of Arcep. The new government will have to decide whether to keep these dates, or postpone them, as desired for example Bouygues Telecom, while the subjects of the impact on the environment and the health of 5G invite themselves into the debate.
The alliance with Germany in hydrogen
On June 30, the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire announced a future partnership with Germany for the development of the hydrogen sector. While across the Rhine, 9 billion euros of investment in this molecule have been announced, in France, we are currently announcing annual funding of 100 million euros. The production of this hydrogen could also go through nuclear electricity. The new government will have to take responsibility for the proper implementation of the partnership.
The union of Ascoval and Hayange
To avoid their closure, the State announced at the end of June its intention to merge the Ascoval steelworks in Saint-Saulve (North) and the Hayange rolling mill (Moselle). The idea is to make it a unique group of rail producers, and then find a buyer for it. The regrouping and the resumption must, in theory, be validated before the end of the summer. The new government will therefore be responsible for carrying out the project.
By Gaëlle Fleitour, Aurélie Barbaux, Cécile Maillard, Simon Chodorge and Rémi Amalvy