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Yes, Thierry Breton did reduce the debt in 2007

Health crisis and war in Ukraine have not brought happiness to the French economy. Debt has piled up, and now is the time to turn it around. In any case, this is what the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, believes, highlighting his desire not to “prevent future generations from doing what they have to do”.

The goal: “to return to normality. And according to him, it’s not that complicated. “We managed to do it when I was Minister of Finance. Sorry to say, yes I lowered the debt. We can do it, it hasn’t been very painful either, ”he told France Info.

The one who was a tenant of Bercy between 2005 and 2007 was also pleased to have done so without austerity. That is to say without having recourse to a restrictive budgetary policy where tax receipts increase while public expenditure is limited. In this case, several levers can be used: raising interest rates, freezing wages, increasing taxes and/or social security contributions, reducing public spending. It is in this that the recovery of the economy currently scares many French people, who think that it is the taxpayer who will have to pay.

Is Thierry Breton telling the truth about his management of the country’s economy fifteen years ago? 20 minutes make the point.


Indeed, during the passage of Thierry Breton to the Economy and Finances, the debt has indeed decreased. The year 2006 is also at the time the first where a reduction in the debt of the State has been observed for ten years. And between 2006 and 2007, figures published by INSEE indicate a rise in debt from 67.3 to 64.5% of GDP. This debt ratio was still nearly four points higher than the threshold limit set at 60% by the European Stability Pact.

This decrease in debt comes in parallel with Thierry Breton’s plan announced in May 2006. Concretely, he first restructured the operation of the France Trésor agency – a service responsible for managing the State’s debt and cash. The latter used to end the year with a cash cushion of between 30 and 40 billion euros. By reorganizing this service, in order to allow it to manage its capital inflows and outflows in real time, this has enabled some savings.

But what Thierry Breton also did not mention at the microphone of France Info is that he benefited from significant cash inflows. The former minister can notably say thank you and the sale of Alstom and ADP titles that year, but also and above all to the privatization of the motorways The Vinci, Eiffage and Abertis groups then share the French network by buying the shares of the State for 15 billion euros, and rid the State of the 20 billion euros of debt carried by these motorway companies.

If this maneuver did reduce the debt at the time, it has since been criticized. Some call it a “political error”. Others believe that the State would have made more profits by continuing to operate the road network.

Source: 20minutes

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