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Final Statement of the Rencontres Économiques 2020 #AixenSeine

The Cercle des économistes' roadmap: 15 proposals in 8 axes to address the crisis

This text is the product of a process and a collection of reactions from four sources: reactions from Le Cercle des Économistes members (session coordinators), think tanks taking part in Les Rencontres Économiques Aix en Seine, the three webinars carried out with eleven youth associations (La FAGE, Mozaïk RH, Apprentis d’Auteuil, Nos quartiers ont du talent, Prométhée Education, Fondation FACE, Agence du service civique, Graine d’orateur, l’UNIGE, les Déterminés and l’UNEF), and the proposals resulting from the debates of the 52 sessions of Les Rencontres Économiques Aix en Seine.

In our view, this text is only the first episode of a series of debates to be launched by Les Rencontres  which must continue throughout the summer before the launch of stimulus programmes.


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An insight from Les Rencontres on the state of the world economy

“We entered this new century without a compass.” Amin Maalouf was right. Humanity is faced with new perils, unprecedented in the history of civilisations.

France is at risk! We are convinced that only bold and innovative solutions will respond to the three following challenges: a far-reaching plan that has been debated and agreed, the prevention of a social crisis, and the renewal of European and international relations. In this regard, economists must provide technical answers to a number of questions.

How far should production be relocated? Economists must also consider the criteria and requirements for profitability, and the financing capacities for the massive infrastructure investments that will be much needed in the coming years. Finally, economists have to reflect on the compromise to be made between the urgent need to address unemployment, particularly among young people, and the need for green growth.

In this respect, we came up with fifteen proposals corresponding to the following eight axes.

Proposal n°1: Giving priority to youth

  • Asking MEDEF, CPME and U2P to make a commitment before the end of July so that companies recruit at least one young person at the end of their studies. This recruitment will be totally or partially paid for by the State for a period of one year. For those who have not been able to benefit from this scheme, offering to continue training for a year while being paid at the RSA. Finally, for young people with few qualifications, multiplying by ten all requalification training courses (CNAM, second-chance schools, etc.) by focusing them on sectors that create employment.
  • Reducing and at the very least combatting the rise of property prices by regulating the price of land by extending the duration of property loans, abolishing VAT for first-time buyers and organising dismantling operations between land and buildings and/or between usufruct and bare ownership.

Proposal n°2: Relaunching innovative production sectors at European and French levels

  • Putting in place a Buy European Act, based on the American model, to reserve access to public procurement markets to European companies in certain sectors, including health and the environment.
  • Regaining control of our value chains in strategic and high value-added areas, creating European agencies on the model of the American DARPA and BARDA to finance breakthrough innovations. These agencies would cover the fields of defence, energy, digital and health.
  • Cancelling interest payments on guaranteed loans, and postponing the start of the principal repayment to a minimum of 5 years. In order to restore confidence for companies that are worried about the possibility of a bankruptcy, consideration has been given to transforming guaranteed loans into equity or quasi-equity loans. However, the approach is likely to be very complex and unsuitable in terms of timing. That is why we propose to cancel interest on guaranteed loans provided that the banks state that benefitting companies are not “zombies”.

Proposal n°3: Creating jobs, fighting poverty and promoting mobility

  • Setting up a vocational training contract for the training of employees made redundant in sectors strongly affected by the crisis (aeronautics, automotive, etc.) to train them in sectors creating employment (information technology and environment, for example) to prevent an increase in structural unemployment.
  • Creating a single universal benefit that combines all existing social benefits to combat poverty and precariousness into a single, scalable and simple benefit. We’ve been talking about it for years, let’s do it.
  • Requiring, for people living in social housing, that any offer to change jobs at a significant distance be accompanied by an offer to change social housing close to the new place of work.

Proposal n°4: Fighting territorial fractures

  • Launching a new stage of decentralization, emphasizing the principle that when a competence is transferred to a region or a metropolis, the central State withdraws from it. It is necessary to give the regions all competences on employment, based on employment areas, and to allow them to have their own investment funds.

Proposal n°5: Relaxing, decompartmentalising and re-establishing fundamental ties within French society

  • Making chèques syndicaux (‘union cheques’) mandatory in all companies. These are defined as payment instruments issued by the employer to the employee so that the latter can finance a trade union of his or her choice without having to necessarily join it. The union cheque is financed in whole or in part by the employer.
  • Generalising the mechanisms of participation, profit-sharing and employee shareholding in companies.

Proposal n°6 : Rebuilding a frugal, efficient and fair State

  • Modifying the operating logic of the three civil services (State civil service, territorial civil service and hospital civil service) by making them more efficient. Without changing the status of the civil service, move towards a Swedish-style agency model where public administrations have budgetary autonomy and operate on the basis of objectives on which they are evaluated ex-post.

Proposal n°7: Building Europe's moral leadership

  • Redefining the framework for digital markets. Personal data must first be protected at the European level with the implementation of the Cloud European Act, to ensure that they remain the property of Europeans. In addition, at the individual level, we must better regulate consent to the sharing of private data on websites, in order to strengthen the control of personal data by individuals.

Proposal n°8: Thinking long-term, climate, long-term and intergenerational financing

  • Fighting global warming by relying on green innovation encouraged through different instruments: carbon price, green innovation subsidies, DARPA for energy, border carbon tax, corporate social responsibility and actions of central and commercial banks (climate stress test).
  • Reconciling the profitability requirement of the financial markets and the low profitability of long-term projects. Two measures must be put forward: firstly, private and public financing must be combined, through the Public Investment Bank. Secondly, we must give the public authorities the possibility of guaranteeing, for senior citizens, the savings committed to these projects.