Responding to the crisis of "yellow vests" but continue with the reforms: a visit to Germany, the prime minister tried Thursday to calm the concerns of foreign partners with regard to a possible "immobilism" policy in Paris.
The government has "the determination to continue the reforms, because immobility is likely to be the biggest risk," said Edouard Philippe on Thursday evening at a dinner meeting with business leaders at Cologne's Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Despite the "shocking" and "great violence" images that came from France around the world, the head of the government described a France "on the right track" from an economic point of view, referring in particular to growth "pretty good ".
"Is it fast enough? Probably not, do these measures stimulate enthusiasm? Not entirely," he added, eufemized, while the executive is the lowest in the polls.
The movement of "yellow vests" has forced the executive to spend more than 10 billion euros and to bring the deficit of 2019 above the European beam of 3%, to calm the catapult. It also raises serious doubts in France and abroad about President Macron's ability to get out of the rut and to continue his line of "transformation".
Pension reforms, negotiations on unemployment insurance, major national debate after "yellow vests", European elections …: Emmanuel Macron and his prime minister will have to go through many hurdles in 2019, in an already explosive context.
"What worries me is how we get back to normal, everything is explosive, everything becomes a mini-bomb," is worried about a French MP from the majority.
Shared concerns in Germany; "Sarkozy had said in his time that he would implement reforms, but he quickly returned to the resistance of public opinion, Holland did not even try it, Macron tried it, but he has problems because of the mistakes in leading it", thus a prominent German government source.
To justify the change in the face of "yellow cardigans", Edward Philippe quoted former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as saying: "It is not essential to take the same view, no one can prevent us from becoming smarter."
For his first trip in 2019, and his first visit abroad since the first demonstrations of "yellow cardigans", the prime minister evolved to the comfortable environment of a smuggling business in tuxedos.
– "Clowns" –
He took the opportunity to start the European campaign of May 2019, the first major election test in France after two years of Macron presidency.
"It's not just an election to decide whether to go a bit to the left or a little more to the right", but if there is a "majority" in the European Parliament to "build the values that Europe stands for" , "he said.
"The clowns, the + five stars +, the + real Finns + could have a majority against the parties in the middle (…) We will not break this European project, we will fight for it!", From his side launched the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Land, Armin Laschet (CDU).
Edouard Philippe's last trip from the Paris region, in Haute-Vienne at the end of December, was much more eventful, with demonstrations of "yellow vests" for the two town halls where he had left.
President Macron will begin next week with a tour of the region for the big national debate & # 39; to let live that the grievances must come to mind after the movement of "yellow cardigans & # 39 ;. The Prime Minister must state the latest contours on Monday, after the last meetings with the social partners and the local elected representatives on Friday and Monday mornings.
Before his speech in Cologne, in the afternoon, Edouard Philippe had gone to a high school in the former German federal capital, Bonn. Here he spent two years between 1986 and 1988 at the Franco-German high school that was there at that time.
If & # 39; yellow cardigans & # 39; Being a French expression, "in many other countries we see that social movements express something similar, both politically and socially," he said. during an exchange with high school students.