Indeed, this institution has also contributed original and functional proposals to the debate about carbon neutrality and the goal of "zero net artificialization" for reducing CO2 emissions from cars. 2019 stands as a pivotal year for France Stratégie for its establishment of committees of public evaluation, among them the evaluation of the Pacte Law, and the National Strategy for the Prevention and Fight against Poverty. We will now look back on these different themes with Gilles de Margerie, General Commissioner of France Stratégie, and Cédric Audenis, Deputy Commissioner.
What are your thoughts about France Strategie’s development over the past year?
Gilles de Margerie: The year 2019 has been fruitful for our capacity to provide useful material both to decision-makers and to stimulate public debate, with a series of analyses, prospective studies, and proposals that had the public and media resonance we had aspired to. In particular, two publications captured widespread attention: the analysis note on CO2 emissions from cars, which indicates that these have not been falling for twenty years and proposes that the bonus/malus, created to encourage the purchase of clean vehicles, be indexed to the weight of the cars. Moreover,a major report was issued on the common agricultural policy as a lever for the agro-ecological transition intending to strengthen its environmental ambition with an unchanged budget. These proposals have encouraged constructive reflections on these two subjects.
What place did evaluation considerations have in your overall work in 2019?
Cédric Audenis: 2019 was a pivotal year for the development of evaluation processes for France Stratégie. We began the year with a new report from the Cnepi (Commission nationale d’évaluation des politiques d’innovation) on the evaluation of the research tax credit, which confirms that it generates R&D roughly equivalent to the amount of public aid. A second report was then published in October on the reform of the taxation of capital, a report that was eagerly awaited! This was a complex exercise, for we did not yet have enough data for a comprehensive response to various demands. Yet France Strategie succeeded in adding to the specialized literature.
In the Autumn, two new evaluation committees were set up at France Stratégie: the committee for the evaluation of the Pacte Act (law on business growth and transformation), and the committee for the evaluation of the national strategy for the prevention and fight against poverty, chaired by Louis Schweitzer. These two committees will enhance the methodology for the subject, inviting a larger comparison of government directives.
What are the "major debates" of the past year in which France Stratégie has participated?
G. de M.: We have enriched the public debate on ecological transition, including but not limited to climate change. I am thinking, for example, of the report on the value of action for the climate or the report on soil artificialization commissioned by the government to supplement the biodiversity plan. We have also continued the analysis of the allocation of public resources, especially the allocation of national education resources at the territorial level or, more generally, the allocation of public jobs. This analysis shows that rural areas are not losing out in terms of local public services, but that metropolises are indeed the big winners in terms of national or supra-regional public employment. This opens the way for wider reflections on the possibility of developing public services with a "broad territorial vocation" in medium-sized cities.
C. A.: We have also devoted many resources to issuing jobs forecasts as far as 2030, to be conducted with the DARES, and published in 2020. This is a major modelling exercise, the aim of which is to identify and prevent recruitment difficulties that could hinder growth in ten years' time.
In fact, potential growth, productivity... What about "economic" topics in 2019?
C. A.: In 2019, we naturally contributed to the report of the Conseil national de productivité. France Stratégie acts as its general rapporteur, and also conducted studies to improve the knowledge of the subject. At the end of the year, we published a study on zombie companies using an original database to test the generally accepted hypothesis that the slowdown in productivity can be caused by companies are likely to go bankrupt. This study showed that this phenomenon rarely occurs as an explanation for the slowdown in French productivity gains, and that France is in this respect by no means unique.
How will France Stratégie adapt to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges raised by the Covid-19 health crisis?
G. de M.: Our objective remains the same: to contribute to the debate and provide decision-makers with useful tools for understanding and public action. The work carried out in 2019 has revealed the need to reflect on the articulation of a series of public policies on the theme of sustainability. By revealing the fragilities and flaws of our development model, the health crisis leads us to orient a series of seminars launched last February on these issues. Today, we have a duty of collective imagination: we need to rethink this model in a more sustainable way to prepare for the future. Our work programme is therefore changing to focus on preparing for the post-crisis period, with some work being deepened and accelerated. The "Sustainabilities" seminar has thus adapted, with the opening of a contributory space where reflection, opinions and proposals for preparing the world "after" can be compared, discussed and be mutually enriching.