“I am not for an economy on perpetual drip”

Franck Allard, president of Medef Gironde. Credits: FA

A few days after Emmanuel Macron’s victory over Marine Le Pen, several major government projects will take shape in the coming months. From pension reform to the ’employee dividend’ project, the chairman of Medef Gironde Franck Allard takes stock of the priorities he deems necessary for French companies.

A few days after the second round of the presidential election, how do you welcome the re-election of Emmanuel Macron?
First, we avoided the worst and that’s still good. And then we are in continuity. As chairman of Medef Gironde, I don’t have to take a political position, but it must be recognized that Emmanuel Macron has been a journey for business so far, with no or very few mistakes. Then today there are important topics such as the economy, because we are going through a difficult crisis with inflation coming back, and the war at the gates of Europe. There is also a front of refusal in France that threatens to upset the country, and sometimes I understand the reasons. For example, the evolution of the cost of living which has risen sharply – there is a whole section of the population that is suffering, this needs to be erased little by little, but it won’t happen overnight.

What are your economic priorities?
It’s a continuous revival of the economy that needs to happen as we go from crisis to crisis. There is one topic that Emmanuel Macron has revived that seems to me essential, with a slightly different vision: the issue of pensions. Whatever we do, we will soon be divisive, but instead of emphasizing retirement age, I think we should have insisted on the duration of contributions. People who started work young, often in tough jobs, may have a different retirement age than those who contributed less time and who also often had less demanding jobs. I believe Emmanuel Macron is becoming aware that we cannot put everyone on the same finish line if not everyone has been on the same starting line.

Support war-affected companies

Another project that Emmanuel Macron wants to launch this summer is the obligation, for companies that achieve good results, to “employee dividend”† What do you think ?
Participation, we have all already done that in our companies. If I take the example of my company [NDLR, Filhet-Allard]This is important because it represents about two months of salary for low earners and a month for high earners. It is ultimately a form of profit sharing, even though it is not officially practiced due to various restrictions. Il ya quelque chose qui ne me plaît pas, moi personnellement dans l’interessement, c’est que pour les entreprises de plus de 250 salariés, le prélèvement de l’Etat est de 20% alors qu’il ne travaille pas dans l’ company. I don’t see why he should get 20% of what we pay our employees. Then it is true that our companies today have to work transparently. This is what we try to do through relays like the CSE, which is fully aware of the company’s results.

Some elected officials from the economic world are calling for certain aid to be maintained as long as the Ukrainian-Russian war is not over and French companies are sanctioned. What do you think ?
It all depends on the case. Of course we have to support companies, because that’s what jobs lie behind. But we must also not fall into a state economy. Look what happened with the Covid-19, we artificially supported companies that were already in trouble. With aid gone, companies are collapsing because they lack the capacity to be independent, have little or no capital. I think a strong economy is better than a sustainable economy. The fiscal measures taken by the government, the reduction in corporate income tax, etc. All of this was an excellent thing because it allowed us to rebuild our equity. But I am more in favor of a liberal economy than an economy under constant infusion of the state. You know, we entrepreneurs, we are independent people. We are already highly dependent on our employees and that is normal, on our shareholders, on the government… So the more hands we have free, the more capacity we have to run our companies.

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