French PM vows to boost economy amid impact of Ukraine war

Jul 6, 2022, 7:13 AM | Updated: Jul 7, 2022, 7:19 am
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, center right, delivers a speech at the National Assembly, in...

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, center right, delivers a speech at the National Assembly, in Paris, France, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Borne lay out her main priorities at parliament after the government lost its straight majority in the National Assembly in elections last month. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne vowed Wednesday to boost jobs, cut taxes, support purchasing power, tackle climate issues and help France better face the consequences of the war in Ukraine — including by nationalizing electricity giant EDF.

Borne laid out her main priorities in her first major speech to the National Assembly after parliamentary elections last month cost French President Emmanuel Macron’s government its majority.

She said the government plans to nationalize French electricity giant EDF — one of the world’s biggest electricity producers — amid an energy crisis aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The French state now holds an 84% stake in the company. Its share price jumped on the news.

EDF manages France’s sizable fleet of nuclear reactors, which are facing a raft of technical and other problems. New-generation reactors are years behind schedule and billions over budget.

“The war in Ukraine, at Europe’s doors, reminds us how peace is fragile. Energy prices are rising and we must keep protecting the French. The (COVID-19) pandemic is still there and our vigilance must remain total,” Borne said.

The announcement on EDF came as she detailed the government’s agenda for coming years in front of very vocal lawmakers from the left and from the right, who together outnumber members of the president’s centrist alliance in the National Assembly.

“The French have elected an Assembly without a straight majority. They invite us to have new practices and an intensive dialogue to actively look for compromises,” Borne said.

Macron’s camp suffered big losses in the parliamentary elections. His alliance, Together!, won the most seats in the Assembly but fell 44 seats short of a majority as voters opted for the leftist coalition or the far right.

Having the largest group of lawmakers, Macron’s government still has the ability to rule, but only by bargaining with opposition legislators. To prevent deadlock, Borne promised to negotiate on a case-by-case basis on future bills.

She called on lawmakers and the government to “build together,” saying she is ready to “hear proposals” from opposition members and in some cases, accept their amendments — a very unusual method in France.

“Disorder and instability are not options,” she said. “We may not agree on all the solutions, but we are all aware of the urgent need to act.”

A bill to be presented at a Cabinet meeting Thursday is to focus on helping struggling households amid rising energy and food prices. It is to include measures worth 25 billion euros ($25.5 billion), including increasing pensions and some welfare payments by 4%.

Borne said gas and electricity prices will remained capped as they are now. She confirmed that civil servants will see their salaries increased by 3.5%. In addition, rent increases will be capped.

Borne also addressed key economic changes promised by Macron as he successfully ran for reelection in April.

Full employment “is not an illusion,” she said. It is “within our reach.”

France’s unemployment rate recently decreased to 7,3%, from more than 10% when Macron came into power in 2017.

Stressing that the French are retiring earlier that “all our European neighbors,” she vowed to implement pension changes meant to make the French “gradually work longer,” prompting boos both from the left and from the far-right. Macron promised to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 65 and bring the minimum pension to 1,100 euros ($1120).

Borne also urged lawmakers to take action on climate-related issues and vowed to reach the goal set by France and the European Union to slash greenhouse gases by at least 55% in 2030 compared with 1990.

“We want to be, we will be, the first great nation to exit from fossil energies,” she promised.

Borne also had strong words to promote gender equality; she is the second woman ever named to the post of prime minister.

The leftist coalition, known as Nupes, formally requested a no-confidence motion to symbolically mark its opposition to the government.

The motion has very little chance of passing since it is highly unlikely to get approval from more than half of all lawmakers. The major opposition group, the far-right National Rally, as well as The Republicans, have already said their representatives would abstain.

The no-confidence vote is to be organized within a week, but no earlier than Friday afternoon.

On Monday, Macron reshuffled his Cabinet and called on his new government to “stand strong” amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and “transform” the heavily indebted French economy.

Three out of Macron’s 15 ministers failed to keep their seats in last month’s elections and were replaced.

In addition, Damien Abad, who was minister of policies for the disabled and is under investigation for alleged rape and sexual misconduct, was also replaced. Abad firmly denies the allegations.


Angela Charlton contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Police ID man accused of firing shots inside Mall of America

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Police on Monday identified a fugitive accused of firing shots inside the Mall of America last week before fleeing the suburban Minneapolis shopping complex with the help of several accomplices. Bloomington police say Shamar Alon Lark, 21, of Minneapolis, fired three rounds in front of a Nike store following a fight involving […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Ezra Miller attends the 15th annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard ...
Associated Press

Ezra Miller charged with felony burglary in Vermont

Actor Ezra Miller has been charged with felony burglary in Stamford, Vermont, the latest in a string of incidents involving the embattled star of “The Flash.” In a report Monday, Vermont State Police said they responded to a burglary complaint in Stamford on May 1 and found several bottles of alcohol were taken from a […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Scott Crow, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, speaks during a news confere...
Associated Press

Oklahoma prisons director who oversaw executions retiring

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow, who helped oversee the state’s return to carrying out the death penalty after a nearly seven-year hiatus, announced Monday he’s stepping down. In a statement announcing his resignation, Crow did not cite a reason for stepping down, but called it “one of the most […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Pallets of 155 mm shells ultimately bound for Ukraine are loaded by the 436th Aerial Port Sq...
Associated Press

US pledges $1 billion more rockets, other arms for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Monday it was shipping its biggest yet direct delivery of weapons to Ukraine as that country prepares for a potentially decisive counteroffensive in the south against Russia, sending $1 billion in rockets, ammunition and other material to Ukraine from Defense Department stockpiles. The new U.S. arms shipment would […]
16 hours ago
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Irving (Texas) Police Department shows Yaser Abdel S...
Associated Press

Man on trial in Texas says he did not kill 2 teen daughters

DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting his two teenage daughters in a taxi in the Dallas area in 2008 told jurors in his capital murder trial on Monday that he fled the vehicle before they were killed because he thought someone wanted to kill him. “Definitely not, I did not kill my […]
16 hours ago
The shoulder patch of a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer is photographed during a ceremony in Jac...
Associated Press

Viral video of Mississippi arrest sparks investigation

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — An incident involving a white Mississippi Highway Patrol officer and three Black men is under investigation after a viral video showed the officer putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch. The video, captured Friday in McComb by a man named Packer Lewis, sparked outrage over […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
French PM vows to boost economy amid impact of Ukraine war