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Jean-François Copé : Generation France in London
On January 19th, a Franco-London crowd of politicians, heads of companies, academics and journalists attended Jean François Copé's meeting in London about 'Unemployment'. 'It is not a fatality' the General Secretary of the UMP declared, adding that employment rates, competitiveness and job security are key issues in this time of economic crisis . Hosted by Jean-François Copé's think tank, Génération France, the talk was held in English at the Sofitel Saint James.
Former spokesman for Raffarin and Villepin's governments, Mr. Copé is going to be one of the leading forces within Nicolas Sarkozy's Party UMP, as he was appointed 'General Secretary' two months ago. Self-confident and determined, he clearly announced that his goal is to make things change and “to be President'. Obviously 2017 will not be an ordinary year for him...
A lot of political and economic issues were tackled during this interactive debate. First of all, Jean-François Copé pointed out that it is crucial for France to keep its 'eyes open to the world'. As he sees it, France should learn from other nations : the German companies system and the British job flexibility for instance. This is why the founder of Génération France thinks that it is time to draw inspiration from other countries : an 'international' way of doing politics which is, according to Mr. Copé, what sets his think tank apart. Obviously, such an idea was very appreciated by the audience.
Indeed, some English guests shared their ideas and experiences with the French members of the community : Ed Holmes, member of the think tank 'Policy Exchange', Pr Robert Tombs, from Cambridge University, expert in Anglo-French relationships, and Jonty Ollif-Cooper, strategy manager at A4E, a social-purposed company. They spoke about their own take on the situation with jobs and economics, drawing comparisons between France and England.
The debate evoked the two education systems, a major stake in Copé's mind. French graduates are said to not be sufficiently prepared for the jon market : they lack confidence, their level of English is poor, and they don't have any insight into the professional world. An LSE teacher went further by claiming that during her experience in France, students used to take what she said for granted, whereas English students are much more critical. Another declared that English schools really train their students for getting a job, whereas French schools don't really care about employers' demands. As a result, a lot of French graduates are not able to find the job they deserve.
Another main debate was French companies' competitiveness, as well as the 35-hour working week law and the ISF (solidarity tax on wealth). Mr. Copé explained that the 35-hour working week measure was a 'tragedy' for French competitiveness, and a guest commented that employees had been thinking about their number of hours instead of their productivity since the law was passed. And after some entrepreneurs expressed how difficult it was for them to develop their 'ever more taxed' companies, Mr. Copé declared that both of the laws will be cancelled within the next few years.
To put it differently, the former spokesman for Raffarin and Villepin's governments emphasized the need for France to carry on structural reforms, reducing public spendings and developing SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). A strategy which is embodied by his motto : 'Courage, Unity and Opening-up to the World'.
And last but not least, Mr. Copé highlighted the fact that the euro is not a burden for Europe but an asset. He claimed :'what would have happened for Greece without the euro?'. He said he can't help thinking that the Euro is a fantastic way of preserving peace and unity within Europe, and duly invited his English counterparts to join France in the Eurozone. And, as a true Europe-enthusiast, he declared that the European G2 'Germany-France' was the best way to challenge the world's next G2: 'USA-China'. It's up to you to agree...or not.