Sarkozy pledges to axe top civil service posts
Friday 31 August 2007
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.
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...