Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers,
My dear colleagues,
This epidemic of Coronavirus is shaking our country, as it has probably never been in peacetime in our recent history.
This terrible virus has killed more than 22,000 people in France, and right now I am thinking above all of their families and loved ones.
First of all, on behalf of all my fellow LR deputies and the national representation, I want to pay tribute to the work, the courage and the admirable dedication of all of our caregivers who play an absolutely decisive role in stemming the epidemic and save a huge number of lives.
This epidemic has plunged us into an unprecedented health crisis as well as an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude which impacts us collectively and which puts each and every one of us before our responsibilities.
With the Republicans, we want, more than anything, that our country is at the rendezvous of history and capable of emerging from the top of the doldrums by avoiding lasting sinking into recession, fear and torpor.
The French are waiting for it, the situation demands it.
Faced with such a health crisis, we made the choice in Les Républicains, of a responsible, demanding and useful opposition to our country.
We are not there to participate in a decibel competition with the other oppositions but to mark our difference.
Our difference with them but also our difference with you and your government, in form as in substance.
First on the form. You will notice, Prime Minister, that you have had an advantage over us: where you have had 72 hours to read our own plan, you barely leave us 3 hours to examine yours.
I admit that I do not fully understand this excess of rigidity, and all the less, since it is apparently not shared by the President of the Republic or by a part of your own majority. Why not give Parliament 24 hours to review your plan? Why such a unilateral decision?
As for the urgency argument you invoke, it is completely fallacious. Voting on the text today or tomorrow does not delay the operational implementation of your plan since it will be presented next week in the Senate and will not come into force until May 11.
We deplore this guilty tension and we do not understand this stubbornness which will have a major political cost, that of pointing the oppositions at a time when we need rally and serenity.
It is somewhat curious that the President of the Republic calls for national unity and that, at the same time, the Prime Minister sits on Parliament and democracy
As for the issue of digital tracing, we welcome your change in favor of a specific vote given the many questions it raises with regard to public and individual freedoms as well as real doubts with regard to its practical feasibility.
As for your statement, our concern is that of a low-cost deconfinement with a particularly difficult operational implementation. First we see the risk of variable protection deconfinement.
I would like to come back for a moment to the masks and the tests. There have been some advances, notably the compulsory wearing of masks in public transport, but there are still many recommendations and ultimately few obligations in the public sphere. When it comes to testing, I heard the goal. But the question is: how do you get there? How do we do this when we know the many difficulties we have in France in deploying this massive screening strategy.
Then, the risk of a fragmented and postponed deconfinement. I am thinking of cafes, hotels, restaurants; what you just said about schools; or on the digital app. We understood today that the deconfinement, it was not necessarily May 11, but rather the “eleven but” with many constraints. It was even sometimes June 2.
So with regard to the content of this deconfinement plan, we have identified four loopholes which seem important to us: the question of protections, the question of schools, the question of security and the economic question.
Masks and tests must be at the heart of the deconfinement strategy.
The glaring lack of masks, the glaring lack of tests, the glaring lack of resuscitation beds will remain as indelible stains and sad symbols of the often chaotic management of this epidemic.
This shortage of equipment will have led the Government to contradictory injunctions in particular on the efficiency of wearing a mask.
The Republicans deputies demand to make the wearing of the mask compulsory, at least in public transport and supermarkets, and to consider it in the whole of the public space.
As for testing, we have been advocating from the start for a massive and systematic screening strategy.
Germany is 5 times more tests and 5 times less deaths.
If the government is not able to provide France with enough masks or tests, our country will go straight to a second wave of the epidemic whose consequences would be even more catastrophic.
The question of schools:
After the free choice left to families, it is now the postponement of the resumption of lessons for high school and college students. Even though they are better able to respect barrier gestures than children in primary and nursery schools.
We propose a German recovery strategy based on massive tests for teachers and which allows the temperature of each student to be taken every day before they return to school. I haven’t heard anything about school canteens where we have a lot of questions. Many French people do not understand how restaurants could remain closed and school canteens open.
The absence of a security component:
I have listened to you attentively, Prime Minister, and security is unfortunately the great absent from your deconfinement plan.
At Les Républicains, we want reinforced security conditions: this means strictly controlling our national borders, as long as the threat is not averted, it is also putting the civil and criminal courts back on track, and refusing that 20,000 prisoners are released more quickly for purely practical reasons.
On this part, it lacks breath and convictions. We propose to accelerate the recovery in the least affected departments, by reopening on May 11 shops, cafes, hotels and restaurants. Waiting until the end of May or the beginning of June seems late to us, the same goes for libraries and media libraries.
For the other departments, we want progressive openings between May 11 and June 15.
This recovery would of course be done under very supervised conditions, respecting strict health security rules such as welcoming the public in limited numbers or respecting social distancing.
But we are fully aware that these measures will generate significant additional costs for companies and especially that they will not find their turnover overnight before confinement!
This is why we especially do not want to abruptly stop existing systems, and that we will continue to help companies to support them in this recovery.
In our plan, the end of partial unemployment will therefore be very gradual by the end of 2020, the loan guaranteed by the State would be extended by one year, and small businesses would continue to be supported by aid of the solidarity fund, which we propose to double.
We also wish to go much further than the Government by canceling all the social AND tax charges for hotels, cafes and restaurants, the first months of deconfinement.
Since the beginning of this crisis, the Right has shown constancy, consistency and a spirit of responsibility.
We were able to do so by voting on all emergency measures and the two amending budgets.
We have been by making many proposals. I am thinking of extending the criteria for lower turnover to benefit from the aid of the solidarity fund. I am thinking, most recently, of the request to authorize pharmacies to sell masks in pharmacies. Our trademark is to be a force for proposals.
Because we want the success of France, we put on the table, this weekend, a plan of 50 precise and credible proposals which are the fruit of a collective work carried out with all 104 deputies Les Républicains.
They revolve around two priorities: better protect the French and accelerate economic recovery.
Our deconfinement strategy can be summed up in three words: masks, tests and work. We want a clear deconfinement, under protection and territorialized.
Clear because it must give a perspective to economic actors and visibility to all French people.
Under protection because the next world cannot look like the world before and we cannot afford the risk of a new wave.
Finally, our deconfinement plan will be territorialized! We do not believe in a Jacobin, bureaucratic and technocratic deconfinement.
We must trust the players on the ground, local elected officials and all those French people who keep France standing.
Prime Minister, trust all these French people who, from supermarket cashiers to road transporters, farmers and workers in the food industry, EHPAD staff to home helpers, have all rolled up their sleeves to stand up and serve others.
Trust the driving forces of the Nation which, from voluntary associations to business leaders, from professional organizations to parliamentarians, are mobilizing to restart the economy of our country.
Trust local elected officials who, from mayors to regional presidents, have constantly found common sense, pragmatic solutions and have often had to make up for the shortcomings and failings of the state.
This clear, territorialized and protected deconfinement plan is an absolute prerequisite to restore the confidence of the French and restore the conditions for a way out of the crisis.
The French allowed the success of the containment, they are now waiting for you to go to the deconfinement.
We don’t want to die cured, that’s why we have to succeed in deconfinement.
This deconfinement is a major turning point and an absolutely decisive step not to be missed. The health, economic and social consequences of a failed deconfinement could prove to be just as dramatic as the crisis itself.
To be successful, deconfinement must be based on a clear strategy, a rigorous method and a set course.
Alas, we are often faced with orders and counter orders.
Permanent contradictory injunctions, completely confuse the message and make the deconfinement strategy difficult to apply.
– One day you tell us that it is absurd to close the borders and the next day that the closing of the borders is finally required.
– One day you tell us that the schools will reopen on May 11 and the next day that the return to school will finally be on a voluntary basis.
– One day you tell us that the deconfinement will be regional and the next day that, all things considered, this option is discarded.
– One day you tell us that the elderly will remain confined long after the date of May 11, and the next day, and it is fortunate that you have finally ruled out this option.
– One day you tell us that the restaurants will reopen in mid-June, and the next day that it will not be the case.
Prime Minister, to govern is to decide. Daring is not just about being cautious. It’s about showing courage first. Politics is decision, it is courage and it is also sometimes risk-taking.
So, Prime Minister, we want deconfinement, but we want clear and protected deconfinement. Because without sufficient protection, it is the insurance of a reconfinement to face a 2nd wave.
Without a mask and without sufficient testing, you will be caught in the impasse of impossible deconfinement.
Faced with such uncertainties and faced with this lack of courage, sometimes clairvoyance and faced with these numerous flip-flops, the deputies of the Republicans cannot bring you either confidence or blank check.
We are almost unanimous not to vote for your plan because, like more than 6 out of 10 French people, we do not trust you to succeed in deconfinement.
So you have certainly set down a rational theoretical framework this afternoon, but we must now all be vigilant together on operational implementation.
Consequently within our group we will vote for the most part for a vigilant, demanding and constructive abstention and we will continue to be the spokespersons of the questions of the French but also of the expectations of the territories.