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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Macron launches his "battle plan" for the suburbs

Por Nina

In a speech given Tuesday noon, the President of France warned that he would not announce a "suburbs plan" strictly speaking, but a series of measures to help residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods. It's "a battle plan", but not a "suburban plan". Emmanuel Macron warned that he was going to embark on this type of announcement, seeing a strategy "as old as (him)". The head of state called for a "change of method" to get out of what he called "house arrest" in poor neighborhoods. In this sense, the president presented a series of measures, Tuesday noon, in front of an audience of elected officials, associative leaders and entrepreneurs.

His plan is minimalist. There are no spectacular measures and does not include millions of euros projects. The idea, for now more rhetoric than practice, is to promote what Macron called the "emancipation" and "dignity" of the inhabitants of the banlieues to free them from the metaphorical "house arrest" that, for many young people, blocks the social elevator. The banlieues, from the riots of the 1980s to the cases of jihadists in some cases, are an iconic space in France. Formed by different waves of immigration, they should be the gateway to integration in a Republic that should be meritocratic, but have often ended up being a plug for mobility.

The countless plans and proposals to rescue the banlieues have had a variable success, but they have not allayed the fear that explosions of discomfort like 2005 will be reproduced, or that the risk of Islamist radicalization will worsen. The French president rejected the need for an umpteenth Marshall plan to rescue the so-called priority neighborhoods of the city (QVC in its French acronym). It is about the 1,500 most disadvantaged neighborhoods -not all technically banlieues-, where more than 5 million people reside, where unemployment is more than double the national average and where 42% of inhabitants live below the threshold of poverty. "It is necessary to ensure that in all parts of the Republic our fellow citizens re-encounter dignity - parents, children, adults - that they rediscover what they have the right to the Republic," Macron told a few hundred local leaders and residents in the banlieues. "And we need a policy of emancipation, that is, that everyone can go towards what they aspire to and that this social or territorial domiciliary detention does not exist anymore, which means that when you are born in a place or you have had an accident, you can not get ahead." And he added. "And this philosophy of action leads us to change our method. I do not present a plan: it would not make sense for two white males who do not live in these neighborhoods to exchange a report and say: 'We have a plan'. This does not work like this anymore. "

The president was referring to a plan presented to the government a few weeks ago by Jean-Louis Borloo, former minister with conservative presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy. The Borloo plan envisaged investments close to 15,000 million euros, in addition to the creation of a foundation for urban renewal and a leadership academy to train the elite of the banlieues, among other measures. It even contemplated the existence of a "General Patton", a visible leader -comparable to the American military of the Second World War- who led the fight. Borloo's proposals have been largely shelved, although Macron reflects the spirit of some of the proposals. Among Macron's measures for the most disadvantaged neighborhoods, there is the creation of 30,000 nursery places and 30,000 internships in public and private companies for students in the third year, between 14 and 15 years old. It is a way for young people in these neighborhoods to break the lock that implies access to working life. The president acknowledged in his speech the reality of discrimination according to the neighborhood of origin. "I can not tell a young man that the school will emancipate him if he goes after a job and they say to him: 'Gennevilliers [a city on the outskirts of Paris] I know it, but it is not the right address'". Macron wants to establish controls in the 120 largest companies in France to ensure that they do not discriminate. Another proposal is to transfer information about people suspected of terrorism to local authorities. The president called for building a "surveillance society". He said he did not talk about delation, but it would be about the neighbors who warned about the radicalization of their neighbors, and not cover them up.

Emmanuel Macron said he was in favor of the creation in July of a "body of appeal for the inhabitants as well as the elected ones". "There are territories in great difficulty, and they can be very urban, very rural, the reasons are profoundly different and (...) one needs a policy of real right, of effectiveness of the rights in these places of the Republic (...) I hope that for the month of July, we can think about a collective organization (...) where we can have a body of appeal for the inhabitants, as for the elected ", on the territorial equity, he announced. He also referred to a "national agency of cohesion of the territories", assuring wish "that we keep the Anru (National Agency of urban renewal)". But "many of our territories have a problem of equipment" and "within the framework of this national agency of cohesion of the territories", it is necessary "that one thinks to have this catch-up operator which allows, in the districts as in the rural areas, "to mobilize public funding" and "all actors". The speech at the Elysee Palace, preceded by several interventions by local actors, was to mark a change in method, one that focused more on individual responsibility and decentralization - companies, neighbors, local authorities - than on the strength of the State, more in guaranteeing equal opportunities than in equality only. The Macron method - a liberalism piloted from the Elysee: the president in direct connection with the neighborhood - applied to the banlieues.