Macron warns France of 'sacrifices' ahead
French President Emmanuel Macron says France is in the process of "living through a tipping point or great upheaval."
French President Emmanuel Macron warned Wednesday that France will face "sacrifices" ahead in a new era marked by climate change and war in Europe.
After France's summer of drought, massive wildfires, and deadly storms, the French leader delivered a bleak message to the first cabinet meeting after the traditional August holiday break.
"I believe that we are in the process of living through a tipping point or great upheaval. Firstly because we are living through... what could seem like the end of abundance," he indicated.
The speech appeared designed to prepare the country for what promises to be a difficult winter ahead, with energy prices rising sharply and many families struggling to meet the cost of living.
Ahead of the six-month anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine, Macron had vowed on Tuesday that European support for Kiev would endure "for the long term" despite the impact on European consumers.
"Our system based on freedom in which we have become used to living, sometimes when we need to defend it, it can entail making sacrifices," Macron told ministers.
The 44-year-old had called on the French people to "accept paying the price of liberty."
On Wednesday, he also referred to the wild weather that has hit France over the summer, increasing fears about the pace of climate change.
"This overview that I'm giving -- the end of abundance, the end of insouciance, the end of assumptions -- it's ultimately a tipping point that we are going through that can lead our citizens to feel a lot of anxiety," Macron warned.
"Faced with this, we have duties, the first of which is to speak frankly and very clearly, without doom-mongering," he added.
#France, #Spain, #Britain, and other western #European countries sweltered under a blistering heatwave that so far sparked forest fires and fears that such early summer blasts of hot weather will now become the norm.#Heatwave2022 pic.twitter.com/iVLhOkMf7M— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) July 20, 2022
The poorest already paying price of war
French inflation was clocked at 6.1% last month, one of the lowest rates in Europe due to costly government price caps on electricity and gas, as well as tax cuts on petrol and diesel.
"Our measures have worked. Apart from Malta, no one is doing better than us," government spokesperson Olivier Veran claimed after the cabinet meeting.
But trade unions are pushing for higher wages and have called for a day of strikes and rallies on September 29.
The head of the left-wing CGT union, Philippe Martinez, told BFM television that Macron's speech was "inappropriate", adding that the poorest were already paying the price of the war and that further sacrifices could not be expected.
"He'll ask for them (sacrifices) and we will oppose them," Martinez underlined.
Macron was re-elected to a second term in April but lost his parliamentary majority in elections in June, meaning that Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne heads a minority government that depends on opposition parties to pass legislation.
Bernard Sananes, the head of polling group Elabe, considered that Wednesday's address was a "precautionary speech" in order to stress that "we need to be prepared for difficult times ahead."
Commenting on Macron's speech, a government source told reporters on condition of anonymity that "It wasn't a pessimistic speech about the future."
"It was a speech that described the state of the country, Europe and the world in lucid terms," the sources said.