Thursday, September 27, 2007

Environmental Grenelle

Six working groups of the so-called "Grenelle of the Environment" have presented their preliminary recommendations, and the results are at first sight not very impressive. Reduce the speed limit, insulate homes, search for alternatives to pesticides (but don't be too quick to accept the most promising alternative, genetically modified organisms), etc. The more controversial agendas--nuclear power, waste treatment, etc.--remain controversial. Would Juppé have succeeded where Borloo appears to have failed? Not at all sure--but Borloo seems to have been keeping a very low profile, whereas Juppé was supposed to have been a virtual co-prime minister.

Embezzlement or Bamboozlement?

Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac, the head of the UIMM (metal industry trade group), is accused of embezzling 5 million euros from his group's treasury over the past 5 years. But Arrêt sur Images smells a rat. Why, the editors ask, have media owned by Dassault and Lagardère given publicity to the suspicion that the money actually went to metal industry unions? Is the government using the investigation to establish a "hold" on the unions in order to ensure their docility in the face of the current reforms? Why has the response of the unions been so muted?

Well, this would be hardball politics indeed. Is @sI too suspicious? In Germany it has been established that large side-payments were made to unions at Siemens and VW to quell potential labor trouble. It's not impossible that similar tactics were employed in France. Nothing is proven. It's useful to be reminded, however, that any number of agendas may be involved in what one reads about this case.


Copé Under Fire

Jean-François Copé, the head of the UMP group at the National Assembly, whose extracurricular legal work for Gide Loyrette Nouel was previously reported on here, has come under fire from members of his own party, among others. In addition to his parliamentary job, his position as deputy, and his outside legal work, he is also a mayor and président d'agglomération. "Now there's a guy who really understood the president's message: travailler plus pour gagner plus," commented François Goulard, UMP deputy and former minister of research. Patrick Devedjian, the party head, said that "there is a need to be more rigorous regarding the combination of a mandate as deputy with outside professional activity."

Copé defended himself by saying that it was "useful for a deputy to maintain a certain number of ties to realities on the ground." To judge by the picture to the left, he's also a Marlboro Man in his spare time.

Some 100 deputies exercise outside professional activities, according to Copé, who testified before Édouard Balladur's constitutional reform commission.