Why Macron is (already) returning to Marseille

Why Macron is (already) returning to Marseille (photo from September 2, 2021)

POLITICS – Five weeks after his highly publicized visit, Emmanuel Macron is back in Marseille this Friday, October 15 to take stock of the ambitious plan intended to give new impetus to France’s second city, in particular by renovating its dilapidated schools.

While he had devoted nearly three days to it at the beginning of September, the Head of State will spend only twenty hours in Marseille this time. He will first participate in a meeting on the theme of access to employment and integration, before a dinner with the main elected officials devoted to a “review of the commitments” of the “Marseille en grand” plan. On Saturday, he is due to make announcements at the 127th National Congress of Firefighters, which has been held there since Wednesday.

By presenting “Marseille en grand” on September 2, Emmanuel Macron had promised to return in October and then in February 2022, before the April presidential election, to ensure its implementation. “You have heard a lot of speeches and a lot of checks. I don’t know if we are going to be successful. I want these promises to become facts ”, had pleaded the president while addressing the personalities of the city.

“Unprecedented” renovation program

“I expect it to be a fruitful visit”, declared this week the socialist mayor of Marseille, Benoît Payan, who had alerted the president to the enormous needs of one of the poorest cities in France that he has been running for a long time. year.

In the entourage of the president, we welcome “the progress of the main projects”, even if some progress more easily than others. The most prominent is that of schools, with an “unprecedented” renovation program, according to Benoît Payan, who unveiled a plan at 1.2 billion euros on Monday. Either “the largest project that the city of Marseille has initiated since the 1960s ″. Some 814 million euros will be allocated in particular to the 174 schools (out of 472) the most dilapidated for heavy renovations or reconstructions.

In September, Emmanuel Macron refused to set the total amount of state aid for this program. This costing “is not completely completed”, says one in his entourage, specifying that it will be one of the subjects on the menu of the dinner which will bring together Benoît Payan, the president of the Aix-Marseille metropolis Martine Vassal ( LR), a representative of the PACA region, the prefect, the new delegated prefect responsible for the execution of the plan, the rector … But also the Minister of Cohesion of the Territories Jacqueline Gourault, his counterpart of the Interior Gérald Darmanin , who will participate in the congress of firefighters, and the first president of the Court of Auditors Pierre Moscovici.

Metropolitan reform

Discussions over the meal will also focus on the other priorities of “Marseille en grand”, in which the State is prepared to invest 1.5 billion euros, excluding school renovation. It aims in particular to finance transport projects (metro, tram) in order to open up the working-class neighborhoods in the north of the city, the most deprived and affected by the violence resulting from drug trafficking.

In September, Emmanuel Macron criticized the governance problems of the powerful metropolis, blamed for the delays in this sector for which it is responsible. It is “a system that cannot finance itself”, he lamented, calling for deep reform. Discussions have accelerated in recent days, Prime Minister Jean Castex having received Ms. Vassal and Mr. Payan on Monday.

“I hope that we will have convinced him of our desire to reform this metropolis as well as possible (…) and that he will consequently release the necessary funding for mobility”, commented Martine Vassal. Respecting the tradition of presidents of attending their congress once during the term of office, Emmanuel Macron will meet on Saturday the officials of the 250,000 firefighters in France, 80% of whom are volunteers.

He will be able to assert the agreement reached between deputies and senators on a bill to better promote volunteer firefighters which provides in particular for more advantageous financial subsidies or easier access to social housing. But the firefighters intend to ask for more for the volunteers, especially in retirement compensation, they said.

For professionals, the deputies voted on Wednesday in committee to remove the wage premium on the fire premium which will result in an increase of 53 euros per month on their payslip.

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