New Year’s Eve Broadcast to the French by Nicolas Sarkozy
Paris, December 31, 2011
My dear compatriots,
2011 is drawing to a close. It will have been a year of many upheavals.
From the outset of the crisis, which has brought the global economy to the brink of collapse several times over the past three years, I have never hidden from you the truth about its gravity or its possible repercussions on employment and purchasing power.
This crisis, which is a punishment for 30 years of global economic, commercial, financial and monetary chaos, this unprecedented crisis, very probably the most serious since the Second World War, isn’t over.
Countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but also such powerful ones as Spain and even Italy, were caught up in the turmoil of it.
In the storm, you suffered. I know that many of you – your lives already tested by two difficult years – have once again taken a severe battering. You are finishing the year more worried for yourselves and for your children.
And yet there are grounds for hope. We must, we can remain confident about the future. Because even though so many countries have experienced insurmountable difficulties, France has held out. She has resisted.
She has held out, she has resisted, she has so far managed to banish the doubt which triggers crises of confidence, thanks to the courage and sang-froid you have shown for three years, thanks to our solid institutions, thanks to our social welfare system which guarantees solidarity in adversity, thanks to the reforms we have carried out over the past few years. I am thinking in particular of the pensions reform and all the measures aimed at cutting our public spending, which have allowed France to retain the confidence of those who lend her their savings to finance her economy.
It isn’t a matter of denying the difficulties we are going through. But in these times of hardship, France has been able to protect the most important things. I want to pay special tribute to all those among you who, through your work, have helped our economy develop.
My dear compatriots,
We must be courageous, we must be clear-sighted.
The global situation tells us that 2012 will be a year of immense risks, but immense possibilities too; immense hope, if we know how to take up the challenges; immense danger if we do not act.
Putting off the choices because they are difficult is the worst option. When you decide too late, the price to pay is higher. And the suffering greater.
In 2012, France’s destiny may once again change dramatically.
Emerging from the crisis, building a new growth model, creating a new Europe: those are a few of the challenges awaiting us. I want to express to you my conviction that we shall have more strength to face up to them if we are united with our European partners.
But we must face these challenges. We can neither reject nor postpone them. We cannot ignore this new world.
In five months’ time we have a presidential election. It is an important date. When the time comes, you will make your choice. But between now and then I must continue to act, because the history of the coming decades is being written now.
On 18 January, the Prime Minister and I will bring together the representatives of our country’s economic and social forces. I’ll listen to the proposals of each, and before the end of January we’ll take – and take responsibility for – major decisions, because the challenges are crucial.
The crisis is grave, the circumstances are exceptional and the decisions must be commensurate with this gravity. It is a duty I shall not shirk.
I do not underestimate the consequences that the ratings agencies and financial market surges – and indeed our past mistakes – can have on our economy, but let me make this clear to everyone: neither the markets nor the agencies will dictate France’s policy.
Ultimately, the only way to preserve our sovereignty and take control of our destiny is to choose – as we have done up till now – the path of structural reforms rather than that of knee-jerk reactions, which only add to confusion and disorder and do not restore confidence.
The problem at issue isn’t a new round of spending cuts for the coming year. What had to be done has been done by the government.
Our work must now give priority to growth, competitiveness and reindustrialization: they alone will enable us to create jobs and purchasing power.
There are three subjects that seem to me to dominate.
We won’t pull through by leaving behind those who are already suffering the painful consequences of a crisis they are not responsible for. We won’t build our competitiveness on exclusion but on our ability to give each person a role in the nation. That is why those who have lost their jobs must be the focus of all our attention.
We must change our view of unemployment and ensure that training jobless people becomes the absolute priority, so they can each rebuild a future for themselves. Training and not just compensating: that must be our goal. Nobody must be able to exempt themselves from this obligation or be excluded from this opportunity.
The second subject is that of financing our social welfare: it can no longer depend mainly on work, which can so easily be relocated. We must ease the pressure on work and secure a financial contribution from the imports that compete with our products thanks to cheap labour. For years this subject has been at the heart of every debate. I shall listen to the employers’ and unions’ proposals, and then we shall decide.
The third subject is that of the deregulation of finance, which shocks you all the more deeply because it is, to a great extent, the source of the current difficulties.
We must make finance play a part in repairing the damage it has caused. It is a matter of effectiveness. It is a matter of justice. It is a matter of morality. The financial transaction tax must be put in place.
My dear compatriots,
My duty is to address the issues and protect you.
You can rest assured that I shall shoulder – to the very end and completely – the heavy responsibilities you have entrusted me with, and that I will not cease to act in the general interest.
Everyone must shoulder their responsibilities: that is why I call on all decision-makers in companies and in the economy to do everything to safeguard employment. I call on all players in the public services to redouble their consideration for all those who need our solidarity.
My dear compatriots,
I have confidence in France’s strength.
I am certain of the path we must follow.
I offer this evening my very best wishes of happiness for the new year to you, to all those dear to you, to our soldiers risking their lives beyond our borders, to their families, who live in anxiety, and to all those people in the world who fight for freedom.
Happy New Year to everyone.
Long live the Republic!
And long live France!.