In his first New Year’s address to the French people Sunday, just before the New Year was rung in, the French president, Emmanuel Macon, said that he will continue to pursue the reform agenda that he introduced in 2017 in 2018.
Transformations, such as those initiated at school, at work, on the climate "will continue with the same force in 2018," he said, adding that he will not stop "acting" despite the "discordant" voices.
Addressing the problem of unemployment, he said that France needs to put work at the “heart of our society” because France can only be strong through work.
He added that he would strive tirelessly to provide that work. The goal, he said, is to enable everyone to "earn more, to train those who are unemployed, and enable people to develop skills and learning. He also stressed the importance of "lifelong learning to cope with the big changes" that France is facing.
"I believe in success, but what are these successes if they are only for a few?" he said, stressing the need for a social project and the sharing of success.
"Without this humanistic [program], our country will not stand united," he warned, citing the problems of "nations [that] are breaking down" where only a few people are successful.
A roof for all
He also reiterated his commitment "to provide a roof" to "all those who are today homeless.”
"There are still situations that are not acceptable (...) We will continue the effort necessary to succeed in fully respecting the commitment I myself made to you [to end homelessness," he continued.
Macron also stressed his support for the European project and called on all citizens of Europe to “reinvigorate European ambitions”.
“My fellow European citizens,” he said, “2018 is a very special year and I will need you this year," appealing to them to not to give in to “nationalists” nor “skeptics".
Speaking about immigration, the President defended his “humanitarian and efficiency" that is encapsulated in draft law on the right to asylum.
"We must welcome women and men who are fleeing their country because they are threatened because of their origin, their religion, and their political beliefs. This is called the right of asylum. It is a moral, political position and I will not give up anything [on this].
"We will continue to welcome these women and men because France is their homeland," he said.
But, he added, "we cannot welcome everyone and we cannot do it without rules."
"When someone who arrives in our territory does not fall under the right of asylum and has no chance of obtaining French nationality, we cannot let them stay here in an “irregular” situation of that is good for no one.
"It takes simple rules, that are respected and rigoursly [enforced]," continued the head of state.
"I will strive for our country to stand on this line of humanity and efficiency," he concluded.
Finally, Macron also addressed France's role on the international stage. It will be a “decisive” year, Macron predicted. On the international stage, France will continue to take “determined action” in the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Levant and the Sahel.
He went on to pay tribute to those who, even now, are on the field of battle as well as their comrades who have fallen in 2017.
But as combat in some regions winds down, new challenges emerge. “We must win the peace,” he said.