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Dominique de Villepin: “Building a sound path to employment”

The situation of young people in the labour market is “unacceptable”, stated Dominique de Villepin in his monthly press conference on 26 January 2006. He called for change to be brought about with “calm determination”. The prime Minister also wishes to help companies, and particularly SMEs, to achieve growth.

Second stage of the “battle for jobs

The Prime Minister reviewed the key measures in the second stage of the battle for jobs - a new internship policy, development of apprenticeships and the first-job contract or CPE (contrat première embauche). The aim is to “acknowledge the efforts” made by young people, and to “build a sound path to employment”, running from internship to permanent contract.

-  New internship policy. Companies will have to pay interns who work for more than three months, and internships will be better integrated into university programmes.

-  Developing apprenticeship. Concrete targets in respect of young people in sandwich courses have been defined for companies with more than 250 employees: 1% of personnel in 2007, 2% in 2008 and 3% in 2009.

-  First-job contract. This gives young people an opportunity to gain direct access “to a permanent job”, said Dominique de Villepin, pointing out that the contract guaranteed:

-  severance payment and access to unemployment benefit;
-  individual training entitlement.

The Prime Minister dismissed certain “untruths” which had been put about concerning the CPE, and highlighted some of its characteristics:

-  a young person cannot be dismissed overnight - a special procedure will have to be followed;
-  as with the traditional permanent contract, remuneration levels must at least equal the minimum wage;
-  the young people concerned will have ease of access to housing-benefit schemes;
-  unlike fixed-term contracts, the CPE offers long-term prospects.

It was for these reasons that Dominique de Villepin called for a “calm debate [...], with the focus on truth”, so that “difficulties can be handled one by one”. He stated that the earlier new-job contract or CNE (contrat nouvelle embauche) had been a necessary measure:

-  “one third of those recruited would not have found jobs” without the CNE;
-  “95% of CNEs have not been terminated by the employer”.

Helping companies achieve growth

The prime Minister once again highlighted his determination to “strike a fair balance” between worker protection and economic dynamism, because “employment also means growth [...] for companies”.

The Government is keen to take four measures to help small companies to develop, innovate and export:

-  tax reforms - notably as regards the trading tax, which will no longer exceed 3.5% of a company’s added value, thus enabling the tax burden to be reduced by 13%;
-  use of finance from such players as insurance companies and venture capitalists;
-  innovation achieved by “combining our forces”, with the gradual introduction of competitiveness hubs;
-  better relations between SMEs, the State and the major groups, with reorganisation of public-sector contracts to give SMEs greater ease of access, and more effective regulation of subcontracting.

Government news: avian flu and copyright

Lastly, the Prime Minister reviewed two key government news items:

-  avian flu: “France is one of the best-prepared countries”, with a regularly-updated action plan and an already-huge stock of masks and antiviral drugs;
-  the question of copyright on the Internet: The aim is to “reconcile the freedom of Internet users with that of creators, so as to ensure that music has a future”, in line with four principles:

-  highlighting the value of creativity, and refusing to allow access to works free of charge,
-  refusal of the global licence fee,
-  different responses depending on the gravity of the offence,
-  development of interoperability.


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