Macron Warns ‘End of Abundance, Carefree Time’

Weeks after being seen cavorting in the south of France on a jet ski, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of an ‘end of abundance’ and ‘carefree time’ in remarks at a cabinet meeting Wednesday. Macron’s comments were broadcast live on French TV.

Macron enjoying abundance and carefree time two weeks ago.

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An official transcript of Macron’s remarks is not readily available. Below is an extended clip from the speech with rough English closed captioning.

Macron’s remarks paint a dark picture of the world in the 21st Century, one where democracy and human rights are in decline, authoritarian regimes are on the rise; one where material abundance and reliable food, water and energy are a thing of the past; one where freedom and prosperity are in doubt.

Excerpts from news reports:

Le Monde:

Newly pessimistic Macron presents hat-trick of doom

Before the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said France should prepare for a ‘great upheaval,’ announcing the ‘the end of abundance, the end of recklessness, the end of taking things for granted.’

…The president opened the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, August 24, with a particularly somber statement. In a 12-minute speech broadcast live on 24-hour news channels from the Elysée meeting room (a rare occurrence) he spoke of a “great upheaval” with a historic trifecta – “the end of abundance, the end of recklessness, the end of taking things for granted.” A gloomy prospect, with no signs of blue sky or clouds with silver linings anywhere.

The “end of abundance” is the end of access to raw materials and products “on a scale that seemed endless,” acknowledged Mr. Macron. The pandemic and the Ukrainian conflict have severely impacted international trade and ended prospects of carefree globalization.

It is also the end of easy access to water, made scarce by global warming, and also of “easy financial liquidity,” he added. Negative interest rates are now a thing of the past. “We will have to accept the consequences in terms of public finance,” Mr. Macron. The days of “whatever it takes” are past.

…Mr. Macron called on the French people to “accept paying the price of liberty”. He continued that the cost of this freedom “may involve sacrifices” and “efforts.” However, he avoided specifying these. “The government is not imposing any restrictions,” reassured Mr. Véran, at the end of the meeting, denying any “desire to force the French to reduce their consumption” of energy. For the present.

According to Mr. Macron, this “cost” of freedom is part of the context of an “end of insouciance,” with the return of war to Europe “six months ago to the day.” But also of an “end to assumptions,” the vision of the model of liberal democracy flourishing everywhere. On the contrary, Mr. Macron is concerned by the “rise of illiberal regimes” and the “strengthening of authoritarian regimes.”

The Guardian:

…Macron said France and the French felt they were living through a series of crises, “each worse than the last”.

“What we are currently living through is a kind of major tipping point or a great upheaval … we are living the end of what could have seemed an era of abundance … the end of the abundance of products of technologies that seemed always available … the end of the abundance of land and materials including water,” he said.

He thanked “our firemen, elected representatives and farmers who faced the fires and protection”.

Macron added that France, Europe and the world had perhaps been too “insouciant” about threats to democracy and human rights and the “rise of illiberal regimes and strengthening of authoritarian regimes.”

“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. Faced with this, we have a duty, duties, the first of which is to speak frankly and clearly without doom-mongering,” he said…

Infowars:

“What we are living through is a time of great upheaval,” Macron said during a press conference Wednesday.

“Firstly, because we are witnessing – and not since just this summer, but for the past few years – the end of what we might have seen as abundance.”

“And for those who enjoyed it, it is also the end of a carefree time.”

“Our freedom, the liberty to which we have grown accustomed to in our lives has a price,” he continued, “and sometimes when we have to defend it, we have to make certain sacrifices as we fight to defend it.”

Macron was specifically warning of even higher energy costs this winter for Europeans who have already been suffering as a consequence of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

“In the coming weeks his government will have to decide whether to renew price caps on electricity and gas that expire at the end of the year, and maintain a fuel rebate, which together have helped keep French inflation lower than many European peers but weigh heavily on public finances,” Reuters reported Wednesday.

EURACTIV reported Macron’s government is calling for a ban on private jet use and will encourage, but not mandate energy conservation by the public.

…The statement marks a shift from Macron’s previous rhetoric. In 2020, the leader mocked those who preferred the “Amish ecological model” and the “oil lamp” at a gathering with some of the largest French tech companies.

Now his tone is very different as he spoke of “the end of carelessness” and the arrival of a “great turning point.”

Such a shift can also be felt among other high-level officials of Macron’s majority. Transport Minister, Clément Beaune, recently said he would push for an EU-wide ban on private jet use.

…Reducing energy consumption has become a priority in the EU and France since the war in Ukraine pushed leaders to cut energy supplies from Russia.

As the French brace for a difficult winter amid rising gas prices and reduced capacity, the president was speaking with honesty and transparency, calling on the nation to be united, government spokesperson Olivier Véran said about the president’s speech.

Véran said the government did not want to force the French to reduce their consumption, but accompany them towards “virtuous attitudes”.

Before the summer, Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher repeatedly called on the French to not set their air conditioning below 26°C over the summer and not set their heating above 19°C over the coming winter.

Though these are still recommendations, EU member states agreed at the end of July to a 15% decrease in gas consumption between August and March 2023.

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