Contents page 1 — “France can’t afford to stand still” page 2 — “I think the core of the Agenda for convincing” page 3 — “The country can’t afford to stand still” On a page

The French economist Jean Pisani-Ferry read was 2017 in the election campaign team of the current President, Emmanuel Macron. As the chief adviser to the then presidential candidate Pisani-Ferry was for essential parts of the program responsible. Already in 2014, as the Macron was still Minister of economy, had Pisani-Ferry prepared for him a Europe policy paper. The Economist called for, among other things, the flexibilisation of the labour market in France, as well as a loosening of the 35-hour week. Pisani-Ferry is working today, among other things, at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

TIME ONLINE: For weeks, the movements of the so-called yellow West keep France in a breath. What’s with all the people on the streets?

Jean Pisani-Ferry: There are mainly workers, members of the lower middle class, people who live in the province, away from the big cities.

TIME ONLINE: What drives you?

Pisani-Ferry: you protest against the fact that life for them is getting harder. An example: The tax benefits for Diesel have been removed, but many of these people have bought because of this the perks of a Diesel and have to rely on your car as a means of transport. You have the impression that you have to fight to get to financially.

TIME ONLINE: Is that so?

Pisani-Ferry: I have looked at the development of Income more precisely: Between 2000 and 2017, the economy has grown by about eight percent, the household income has also risen by eight per cent. This sounds at first glance as if everything was in order. But the number of households has increased, due to the aging of society and because there are more single. If you take this into account, then the income has not increased in the past ten years. The people don’t believe that will change any time soon, because the career advancement opportunities are lacking.

TIME ONLINE: Why has escalated the conflict so quickly?

Pisani-Ferry: A large part of the population has the impression that they do not penetrate within the political system with their concerns, because they are not represented in the Parliament. The party of the President of Emmanuel Macron controlled the vast majority of the seats in the national Assembly. The members are mainly people from the big cities.

TIME ONLINE: How powerful is the movement?

Pisani-Ferry: in terms of Numbers it is not very large. We are talking of perhaps 100,000 to 200,000 people attend the demonstrations in what is for French conditions very little. But the support in the population is enormous. The outbreaks of violence are rejected by the large majority of the French people, but about 70 percent support, according to surveys of the protests.