Chirac CPE speech in full

Chirac delivering his CPE speech

libcom.org presents a translation of President Jacques Chirac's CPE speech in full.

My dear compatriots,

For several weeks serious questions, fears and criticisms have been raised about the CPE. Many young people have expressed their disquiet, their need for stability and security, but also their desire to take a full part in our society. Feelings that many among you share.

Beyond the CPE, the period we are passing through imposes deep inquiries: the future we are offering young people; our capacity to make our social model live in today’s world; the question of reform, and of our readiness to lead it all together.

I want to say to the French, I want to say to young people that I measure the impatience of all who wish to work and succeed and who do not manage to find a place within a firm while they have so much energy, so many projects and such talent to express. I also understand of course the refusal of insecurity which has been so strongly expressed.

I wanted the government to take action for equal opportunities, thinking in the first place of all those young people who, because of inadequate training, are in reality deprived of the possibility of finding a first job and who despair of making their way in the world.

This is the objective of the law on equal opportunities of which the CPE is one element. With this Contract, the prime minister, Dominque de Villepin, wanted to offer all those young people new opportunities for work: entering a firm; proving themselves there; gaining real professional experience, with a real work contract. To achieve that, the government decided to provide more flexibility for companies but also new guarantees for employees.

For several weeks the discussion has been unable to conclude and the situation has remained blocked on the question of whether this text should be maintained or withdrawn. The demonstrations have been a pretext for unacceptable acts of violence and destruction. The tensions have grown worse in the universities between those students who want to strike and those who want to work. A significant number of high schools are closed or barricaded. It is time to resolve the situation justly and reasonably, in the national interest. This is my mission under the Constitution.

Parliament, the elected representatives of the nation, has voted for the the law on equal opportunities and the constitutional Council has just found this law to be in every point consonant with the principles and values of the Republic. In a democracy, that means something and must be respected. That’s why I’ve decided to promulgate this law but also because I think that the CPE can be an effective tool for jobs.

But I have also heard the unhappiness expressed by many young people and their parents. And I want to respond to that. This is why I’m asking the government to immediately prepare two changes to the law on the controversial points. The period of two years will be reduced to one year. In cases where the contract is broken, the right of the young employee to know the reasons will be written into the new law.

Finally, I ask the government to do everything necessary so that, in practice, no contract can be signed that does not fully integrate the totality of these changes.

I want to speak to the social partners. I know their sense of responsibility. I know their efforts for jobs. I know their attachment to the values of the Republic. I know their desire to enable a full, constructive social dialogue in our country. I invite them, along with the representatives of the university and high school student organisations, to take their full part in implementing these new measures.

I want to say to them that the moment has arrived to move forward. Together we must work to end this shocking situation in which companies prefer to turn down orders, or relocate rather than recruit, because they fear excessive rigidity, while so many people are stuck in unemployment and insecurity. But we must also respond to the aspiration of employees for more security in a world of work that is continually evolving. This is the whole point of the great project of increasing the security of professional career paths and the fight against insecurity that I’m asking the government to conduct with the social partners.

Mamny students have also expressed real unhappiness about the value of their diplomas, their access to work and their future. Universities must remain places of excellence and the path to real social success. I ask the prime minister and the government to begin a wide-ranging national debate on the links between university and work, in order to make the entry of young people into professional life easier.

My dear compatriots, it is of young people that I think first this evening. They are the strength, the dynamism, the enthusiasm, the future of the nation. It is for them that we have the duty to act resolutely against the scourge of unemployment , of which they are the first victims. For, the goal, is obviously jobs. And the worst solution would be to do nothing.

For eleven months unemployment has fallen. Now is the time for us to make a decisive effort to win this battle together for the future of our country and our children. In this Republic, where the national interest is concerned there can be neither winners nor losers. We must join together again. And, everyone in his or her place must act responsibly.

Long live the Republic, Long live France.