Sarkozy pledges to axe top civil service posts

President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised to scrap half of the most senior posts in the French civil service as part of a sweeping reform of the state apparatus.

In a speech billed as a road map for the "second phase" of his economic programme, M. Sarkozy also pledged to reduce taxes, loosen the hold of the 35-hour working week and allow more French shops to open on Sundays.

The speech to the "summer university" of the French employers' federation, Medef – the first ever by a French president – was a classic Sarkozy performance. He mingled pledges of market-opening and state reforms with populist attacks on "speculative" banks and the alleged inflationary effects of the euro.

Although flagged by the Elysée Palace as a detailed guide to M. Sarkozy's economic reform programme, he mostly stuck to sweeping re-statements of his campaign speeches last spring. The principal exception was his promise to cut into the bone of the French state, which employs 40 per cent of the working population. Previous attempts to impose such biting reforms have been successfully resisted by the civil service and by trades unions. President Sarkozy said that he was "not afraid of reform of the state because we need a strong state and a state cannot be strong if it is collapsing under the weight of debt and stifled by bureaucracy".

"All structures will be simplified and all useless organisations will be abolished," he said. The two separate agencies within the sprawling finance ministry which assess and collect taxes would be merged. So would the two agencies to help the unemployed.

M. Sarkozy faces a tangle of economic problems: a slowing down of the economy, a rise in state deficits and a rise in the cost of basic products such as bread. The best way forward, he said, was to reduce taxes and loosen "disincentives" to work, such as the 35-hour week.

He took populist swipes at banks and the euro. The first were guilty, he said, of "speculating" on world markets while refusing reasonable loans to ordinary people. The European currency was, he said, clearly responsible for "real" inflation, despite all the studies which suggested otherwise.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test