Do you agree with the timetable announced by the Head of State?
The French are worried, economic activity is almost paralyzed and confidence in public speaking is deteriorating. This is one of the points I emphasized to the president on Monday afternoon when we had a discussion. Emmanuel Macron opened the door of hope for a second phase from May 11. He did it with caution. Now we need action and arbitration. Uncertainty is worrying. The French felt that they were not being told the truth, whether it was about the duration of confinement, the wearing of a mask, mass screening. On Monday, I found the president’s tone fair, with the necessary humility and the honesty to recognize a number of errors or flaws. From now on, the government must specify the implementation of this second phase and answer the questions that France expects, in particular that of masks, screening and phasing.
Isn’t mass screening a prerequisite for getting out of the crisis?
With masks, these are two prerequisites for leaving containment. Will we be ready to screen massively as of May 11? I remind you that Olivier Véran had announced the possibility of 50,000 tests per day for the end of April and 100,000 for the end of June. The government will have to be clear about the timetable, the procedure and the needs. Will we also have masks in sufficient quantity to equip the population and who will be the relay? With Emmanuel Macron, we discussed the place of mayors in this system. In this second phase, be careful not to fall back into the approximations of the period that we have just lived.
Do you understand the decision to reopen schools?
It is a very important and courageous choice of the President. It is a response to inequality between families, from this point of view it is fair. However, the organization of school and working time must be redesigned. Barrier gestures are very difficult to implement. Schools cannot be reopened without providing adequate health guarantees to parents, children and teachers.
Parliament will debate the issue of tracing. What do you think ?
This is an important question, that of the balance between effectiveness in the fight against the epidemic and individual and collective freedoms. Let us beware of not getting used to a loss of liberties on the grounds of health priority. Emphasis should be placed on volunteering, anonymity and where the data is stored. Tracing may be essential, but it will only be useful with the other three essential measures for breaking out of confinement: phasing, masks and tests. Emmanuel Macron decided a debate in the Parliament on the subject, we asked him he listened to us.
Should we, as Medef recommends, ask the question of working time?
In a country that has been at a standstill for almost two and a half months, no proposal should be ruled out a priori. Working time is not a taboo subject even if it is not really the subject of the moment. We will have to make a collective effort to revive activity and not hamper economic recovery. This question should be discussed with the social partners, within companies, paying attention to the most modest.
Do you think, with hindsight, that the first round of municipal elections should have been postponed?
When I raised this issue with the President on March 12, it was not about stage 3 or confinement. Emmanuel Macron clarified to me that day that the scientific committee was not opposed to the holding of the poll. If the decision to go into confinement had been taken on Thursday the 12th, I would no doubt have had a different opinion. The question would not have arisen.
Do you think it possible that the second round will take place in June? And the senatorials in September?
We will have the advice of the Scientific Council on May 23. But in a France where bars and restaurants have not been reopened, how can we not contemplate postponing the elections to the fall for the 4,922 municipalities that remain? It will also be necessary to move quickly to the installation of the mayors of the 30,000 municipalities elected on March 15. The subject of senatorials will come in due time.
Sovereignty is essential in the debate. Do you see a turn at Emmanuel Macron’s?
Some have said that the crisis was due to globalization. I think that is the consequence of the choices we have made for twenty-five years. We preferred to transfer a certain number of productions in the name of competitiveness to factory countries like China and India. This is a challenge for Europe and France: we will have to rediscover instruments of sovereignty for our health, food and industrial security without turning in on ourselves.
How do you see the next?
We will have four main areas of concern. How to better manage health crises? How to restart our economy and what will be the economic and social consequences of this crisis? How to avoid new dysfunctions of the European institutions in the face of these crises? What balance should be struck between protecting individual freedoms and the performance of new surveillance technologies? We will have to rethink our health system in depth. We will also have to question the role of the paramedical, pharmacists, nurses, nursing assistants … All this will not only be a matter of salary scales but also a matter of statutes, autonomy of establishments. We will have to have the courage to put everything on the table. We will also have to ask ourselves how our economy will be able to restart because if we no longer produce, we will not be able to distribute. We are told that the GDP will drop by 8 to 9%. The economic earthquake risks becoming a real social and societal earthquake. The truth will have to be told because the state cannot do everything. Balances will have to be found between the responsibility of the State, that of the territories and that of the citizens.
Do you not fear a social crisis?
I fear that there are several working France. The caregivers of course, but also the one who physically maintained the economic life of the country: the staff of the food stores, the garbage collectors, the deliverers, the truckers, the farmers. It will not be enough to say to him: “Thank you, the grateful fatherland”. France in teleworking is not the same thing. Even if it was not a question of opposing each other, there was not the same risk against the virus. It will have to be taken into account. Beware of the looming opposition: white-collar workers and blue-collar workers.