Legal reforms in France
The French authorities plan to abolish the state of emergency in autumn and outline an extensive reform of the legal system. This was announced by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, speaking with the program of his government in the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament). The "roadmap" of the Cabinet also provides for reducing government spending and reducing the tax burden.
"The state of emergency cannot last forever in France," the prime minister said. He recalled that the French president set the task to abolish this regime, which should be done "no later than November 1."
The state of emergency was introduced in November 2015 after the terrorist attacks in Paris and have since been extended five times already. In the coming days, its operation should be extended for the sixth time by the parliament at the request of the government. Then the authorities will present to the deputies a draft law that will make it possible to introduce into the constitution a number of security measures that are now applied only in conditions of emergency.
The government also outlined a broad legal reform in order to "improve the political life, introduce rules of action for elected officials." "The draft law has already been submitted, but besides this, institutional reforms will be launched within a year to modernize the French democracy, especially in this regard, I emphasize the reform of the legal system," added Philip.
"Nothing will be possible in France without strong justice, if the justice is acting slowly, selectively or unjustly, then confidence in it is falling." The forthcoming constitutional reform will strengthen the independence of the judges, "the prime minister is convinced.
Increased penalties for serious crimes
"The draft law on five-year funding and the operation of legal bodies will be presented to Parliament in 2018. It will allow, in particular, to significantly simplify the system and reorganize it." Citizens should be sure that the legal system will act quickly, in particular, the most serious violations of the law - that is, cases of terrorism, serious criminal offenses, acts of violence, and financial fraud, "said Philip.
The prime minister assured that "the terms of punishment for these crimes will be increased, and the procedures simplified." "President Emmanuel Macron's pre-election pledge to create 15,000 additional places in prisons will be fulfilled, which is important both in terms of the ability to imprison those who should be in custody, but at the same time to ensure decent conditions for prisoners.
The referendum on the self-determination of New Caledonia
The Prime Minister promised that the referendum on the self-determination of New Caledonia - the French archipelago in the Pacific Ocean - would be held "no later than November 2018", as provided for by agreements between the French government and the island authorities. "If the Congress of New Caledonia does not appeal to the government with special instructions until May of next year, the government, as provided by the constitution, will organize a local referendum on the issue of gaining sovereignty at the latest in November 2018," he said.
As emphasized by Philippe, Paris intends to fully fulfill its obligations under the Nouméa Accord, signed in the Caledonian regional capital in 1998 and stipulating the process of phased decolonization of the archipelago. "The state will fully fulfill its role as guarantor in this process to ensure a" common destiny, "as it is written in the preamble of the agreement, this is a personal commitment that I accept here," the prime minister said.
Reduction of the state budget deficit
In the socio-economic sphere, the main promises of the cabinet of ministers were the reduction of the state budget deficit and the reduction of the tax burden. So, in the next five years, the government is going to reduce the share of government spending in GDP by 3 percent, and also reduce the tax burden for the citizens of the country. "My goal is to return the deficit of the state budget to below 3% of GDP already in 2017," said Philip. He also promised, "to build a public financial management strategy around simple rules: to reduce the tax burden by 1% of GDP each year for five years, to reduce the share of government spending by 3% of GDP over the same period." "France can not remain simultaneously a champion in state spending and a champion in taxes," he said.
Philip said that he instructed the Accounting Chamber to conduct a detailed audit of public finances. "The diagnosis is serious: 8 billion euros of unsupported expenditures to the budget, our debt reaches unacceptable amounts - 2.147 trillion euros," he said. The prime minister said that every year "France spends 42 billion euros on interest payments on its debts - this is more than what the country allocates to the national defense budget."
The Prime Minister notified about a number of measures in the field of social policy, health care. So, in the fight against smoking, the authorities intend to rise to 10 euros (by 40%) the cost of a pack of cigarettes in the future