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Deficit, unemployment insurance, taxes... What to remember from Gabriel Attal’s announcements on TF1’s “8 p.m.”

He was expected around the corner.

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Deficit, unemployment insurance, taxes... What to remember from Gabriel Attal’s announcements on TF1’s “8 p.m.”

He was expected around the corner. After the announcement of the public deficit for 2023, estimated by INSEE at 5.5% of GDP, a figure well beyond the executive's initial forecasts, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal came on Wednesday evening to "8 p.m. » from TF1. Thirty minutes to reveal the government's decisions aimed at restoring public finances and work. A speech all the more scrutinized as the country has embarked on the path of “rigor”, in the words of the host of Matignon on Tuesday, in order to restore the State’s accounts by 2027 In this regard, the government is laying its cards on the table. And is looking for savings.

If the executive steadfastly excludes increasing taxes, ten billion euros of cuts have already been made a month ago in the 2024 budget. Other savings are planned this year, and at least 20 billion euros will be unearthed for 2025. After a government seminar devoted to work in Matignon, Gabriel Attal reiterated Wednesday afternoon on 'job". In the government's sights: unemployment insurance for which the social partners are still under discussion.

After the public deficit figures revealed this week by INSEE, the Prime Minister described the situation as “serious”. “There has been no slippage in state spending. We are even a little below, 8 billion euros less than what was planned for expenditure. On the other hand, we had less revenue than expected,” admitted Gabriel Attal on TF1. According to the head of government, this gap in the public accounts is linked to a “European economic slowdown”.

To play down the situation, Gabriel Attal recalled that no surplus budget has been voted since 1974. The opportunity to praise Emmanuel Macron's record in this area: France has experienced a public deficit below 3% of the GDP, as required by the Maastricht Treaty, in 2017 and 2018 before the health crisis of the years 2020-2021. “We are maintaining the objective of dropping the deficit below 3% in 2027. When you are below 3%, that means that you are starting to repay your debt,” the Prime Minister also explained.

In mid-April, the government will also present a trajectory to reach this threshold at the end of the five-year term. And to spin the metaphor: “The subject is to get France out of debt because a country that is over-indebted is not a free country. It's like for households, if you are over-indebted, you spend all your money to repay your debt. You can no longer invest, make plans for the future.”

Asked about a possible increase in taxation to reduce the public deficit and increase revenue, Gabriel Attal hammered home: “We have always said that we would not increase taxes.” Recalling having lowered them for some, Gabriel Attal drew two red lines. First, “do not increase taxes on the middle classes”. Then, “do not increase taxes for (...) businesses.” Although the Prime Minister does not dismiss the idea of ​​a tax on the richest, as proposed by the President of the National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet, and has "no dogma" on the matter, the tenant of Matignon is waiting “for proposals to be made to him”.

To counter this fiscal stability, the head of government wants to encourage the unemployed to return to employment. “Either you increase taxes, or you ensure that there are even more people working to have additional revenue,” explained the Prime Minister. Which thunders its objective of “achieving full employment” by 2027, sources of additional revenue in the state coffers.

Wednesday evening, Gabriel Attal also announced “a reform of unemployment insurance this year”. Given this desire, he asked Labor Minister Catherine Vautrin to “prepare new negotiations” for a “real, more global reform”. “My objective is not to attack a particular individual or the unemployed, it is to move a system to encourage more people to return to work,” explained Gabriel Attal. “There are several parameters.” First, “the duration of unemployment insurance compensation. Today is 18 months. One of the options is to reduce this duration by several months, it must not go below 12 months,” the head of government began by detailing.

Then there is “the time you must have worked to benefit from unemployment: six months out of the last two years today. Here too, we can imagine either saying that we have to work more or that the six months are assessed over a shorter period of time,” he indicated. Finally, the third possibility is the evolution of the level of unemployment compensation. “It’s this last track that I prefer,” argued Gabriel Attal. Who wants the parameters to be presented this summer, so that the reform is in force in the fall.

Totem of a world of work since Martine Aubry's reform in 2000, the 35-hour week has undergone several adjustments since its implementation without being completely eliminated. So what about a potential four-day work week? Gabriel Attal assured that he was not in favor of a reduction in “working hours”. However, he wants experiments in many more companies.

“We must get out of this straitjacket of 35 hours a week,” said the head of government. “There are public officials who say they want to work their hours but over four days rather than five. This would reduce the inequality between French people who can telework and those who cannot. We must give more flexibility to those who wish it,” the Prime Minister also urged. The latter intends “that the French be free, that they be masters of their destiny.” “That’s why I’m so attached to work. When we work, we still have more resources,” said Gabriel Attal. Who will bring together the social partners on this issue.

In his major “de-employment” operation, the Prime Minister also wants to review the contribution reduction system “to further encourage employees to increase their salary”. On this question, Gabriel Attal entrusted a mission to two economists, “who must make (him) proposals on the subject in June”.

While the number of deaths at work tends to increase, Gabriel Attal affirmed that there were “too many French people dying (there). “We cannot accept this situation and therefore I am going to bring together all the partners, the social partners, the elected officials, the parliamentarians so that there is a major initiative taken on this subject,” announced the Prime Minister.

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