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The executive in slippery terrain for its first territorial conference

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archives – CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT – | Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and government spokesman Christophe Castaner at the military parade on the Champs-Elysées on July 14, 2017

The executive meets on Monday in the Senate its first National Conference of Territories, in a climate of skepticism of local authorities, worried about their finances, notably on the delicate issue of the tax reduction of housing.

A speech by Edouard Philippe in the morning at the opening, another by Emmanuel Macron in the afternoon: the tandem wants to take care of this moment which brings together the representatives of all territories: regions, départements, metropoles, communes. ..

Announced by Emmanuel Macron during the campaign, this half-yearly meeting must lead to a “pact” between the State and local authorities, in particular to define the objectives of control and reduction of expenditure.

A “forum for dialogue” with the Prime Minister and sixteen representatives of local authorities, followed by a luncheon in the presence of the Head of State, must contribute to the consultation process displayed by the government.

In a Senate that is a forum for local authorities and elected officials, the party is set to be tight: the executive has just accelerated the pace of tax cuts for 2018, but also savings, which will have to exceed 20 billion d euros.

“We will not let anything pass that is not calculated, planned”, warned Sunday the president LR of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, in the JDD, warning against a “pact of confidence” which would be only a “market of Dupes “if it were built” only in accordance with the budgetary constraints of Bercy “.

The main bone of contention concerns the abolition of the tax on housing for 80% of the taxpayers, one of the flagship measures of Mr. Macron’s presidential program, which is to be put in place gradually between 2018 and 2020.

However, this same housing tax is one of the main financial breasts of the communes. Of the 20 billion euros that it currently brings to the “communal block” every year, 8.5 billion will no longer arrive in the caisses, according to the figures of the Minister of Public Accounts, Gerald Darmanin.

“I remain firmly opposed to this measure because the tax on housing is first and foremost a direct link between the community and its inhabitants”, recalls in an interview to the Parisian on Monday, François Baroin, president of the Association of Mayors of France.

– 10 billion savings –

Emmanuel Macron promised to compensate for the shortfall “to the euro near”. A commitment that arouses strong fears among the mayors, who fear not to see the promise respected or pursued in time.

To obtain guarantees, Gérard Larcher and others are calling for a multi-year finance bill devoted to local authorities.

During the campaign, candidate Macron announced other measures that directly affect communities. Firstly, the abolition of about 70,000 posts in the territorial public service and 10 billion euros in savings for the communities over five years out of the 60 billion planned at the national level.

Files that the new executive still needs to clarify.

“Over the last three years, communities have achieved 34% savings on all national spending, while 80% of the debt is the responsibility of the State”, explains François Baroin : “So we have already tightened our belts a lot, I say too much is too much!”

Another project drawn up by Mr Macron before the Parliament and Mr Philippe during his general policy statement: a “Girondin pact” of decentralization, not imposed but “incited” by the State.

Objective: to reduce to two, against three at present (communes, intermunicipal / metropolitan / department) administrative levels below the regions.

The county councils, already passed near the death certificate during the quinquennium Holland, feel particularly in the viewfinder.

After the major reforms of the previous quinquennium (major regions, redefinition of competencies, non-cumulation of mandates …), local elected representatives plead for an institutional break.

Territorial fracture, school rhythms, digital coverage of territories with the resumption of the promise of high-speed broadband throughout France by 2022 …: other themes should be addressed at the conference by the representatives of the mayors of France (AMF), the departments (ADF) and Regions of France with members of the government.

The future of the financing of the RSA, on which the Hollande Executive had failed to reach an agreement at the end of the five-year period, should also be mentioned.

During his campaign, Emmanuel Macron wished that the payment of the RSA be recentralized at the level of the State, without affecting the powers of the departments in matters of integration.

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