Overcharged by the recent increase in the price of fuel, the major concern of the French is still purchasing power. However, to guarantee this, our industries and our economy must feed on research and its innovations. However, the territorial and health crises have had the merit of pointing the finger at our dependence on other countries in the energy, food and technological fields. And for this reconquest of sovereignty, highlighted in the programs, R&D and innovation are essential levers. On the subject, a few candidates are conspicuous by their absence, Marine Le Pen, Philippe Poutou and Nathalie Artaud. Focus on some major proposals that emerge from the programs of the 12 candidates for the 2022 presidential election.
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Presidential: the research funding effort is not unanimous
While the European Council had set investment in public and private research at 3% of GDP (Lisbon strategy), France reached only 2.19% in 2019, against 3.1% for Germany. And for good reason, public research is perceived as a basket pierced by the last three presidents. As a result, the strategy of the past years relied entirely on private research and the creation of structures of excellence.
In the 2022 elections, only five candidates out of twelve, Anne Hidalgo, Fabien Roussel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Éric Zemmour, were in favor of an increase of up to 3% of GDP. Among them, two make a quantified proposal with an immediate recruitment of 15,000 researchers and a national equipment plan for Fabien Roussel and 10,000 teacher-researchers for Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Two additional competitors are more timid. Yannick Jadot will only increase the share of public research (1% of GDP in 2025). And Valérie Pécresse, meanwhile, will allocate only one additional billion for basic research and strategic innovations.
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Research tax credit: a clear divide between right and left
the research tax credit (CIR), which is a rather liberal measure, fiscally encourages companies to do R&D. Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron have thus financed private research for 4 billion euros. The candidates, on the left as on the right, observe that these credits are often misused. Some large groups, in fact, use it more often to reduce tax than to do R&D. Moreover, the State cannot decide its strategic orientation.
So much so that Fabien Roussel and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are for its outright removal. Anne Hidalgo, on the other hand, wants to reform it for the benefit of the social and solidarity economy. Yannick Jadot, for his part, would use it to decarbonise, relocate the economy and preserve biodiversity. For Jean Lassale, calls for tenders should replace them for pharmaceutical research on orphan diseases.
Right-wing candidates, like Valérie Pécresse, prefer to strengthen the CIR for SMEs. Éric Zemmour supports this idea, but he wants to go further by creating a one-stop shop for access to aid to finance private R&D for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
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Reviewed and corrected R&D operation
The crises we are going through are an alarming finding. Our industrial fabric is completely moth-eaten and does not optimally reap the fruits of our research. Before being able to use R&D as a lever to regain a certain autonomy, it would first have to go through a reorganization. And there, the strategies diverge. Fabien Roussel and Jean-Luc Mélenchon submit the idea of public industrial hubs, particularly in the medicine and energy sectors. Research would be “oriented” and transferred to French and European industries. This left-wing proposal notably underlies nationalizations. For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the operation of research would become more flexible with the removal of the National Research Agency (ANR) and structures linked to the Investments for the Future Program. It plans to reallocate the equivalent funds to the units in the form of recurring appropriations. Yannick Jadot approves and will put an end to the quantitative evaluations. He also wants to restore the production taxes abolished in 2021 in order to supply a support fund for change and industrial innovation with the regional councils. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan opts for the creation of an investment and relocation fund for “Label Tricolore” products. It would be endowed with 5 billion euros per year and steered by the Fund deposits and Consignment which will promote productive investment, employment and research in peripheral and rural areas in particular.
The example of a public energy center by Fabien Roussel
It will bring together all the major public and private companies, including Total Energies, research centers including the CEA and a powerful public energy service, organized around EDF and Engie, which will be renationalised.
Nuclear energy: a “pacified” debate
Regaining energy autonomy requires, among other things, nuclear power while waiting, not Godot, but the maturity of renewable energies. If this presidential campaign has often been described as sluggish and inconsistent, the change in posture on nuclear is however quite remarkable. Indeed, the speeches of the past years were very divisive. Would the threat of a Russian nuclear bomb put the risks of the power stations into perspective? The fact is, these presidential elections initiated for the first time in France a real scientific and technological discussion with the citizen. The campaign even turned into an auction room for a while with an outbid on European pressurized reactors (EPR), 6 for Emmanuel Macron, 3 for Marine Le Pen and no less than 14 for Éric Zemmour. The account is good ?
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3 different points of view on the future of nuclear power in France
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan wants the complete nationalization of EDF (electricity and energy are strategic assets of the nation) and the return to the CEA of control of nuclear research and technology. Its objective is to maintain nuclear power at 70% of minimum electricity production and launch a development plan for the Thorium sector over 30 years.
Yannick Jadot wants to get out of nuclear power. The current reactors will be closed as they become obsolete, including around ten by 2035, while guaranteeing the safety of the facilities and the continuity of electricity supplies. It will support innovation to find solutions for waste management and develop a sector of excellence in the dismantling professions.
Éric Zemmour proposes to relaunch research in the nuclear of the future, such as 4th generation reactors (ASTRID program) and nuclear fusion (international ITER project)
Research, a lever for food and technological autonomy
For food autonomy, the consensus is undeniable. Support for agriculture in its transition through research will involve varietal selection, robotics and digital technology.
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For technology, on the other hand, the candidates were not very talkative and rather evasive. What about ambitions in digital, cybersecurity, aeronautics, space research and artificial intelligence? An exception, Emmanuel Macron, who after having set up the Quantum plan on Saclay, proposes a “European metaverse” which would notably have the ambition of not letting Facebook-Meta monopolize this futuristic leisure. Valérie Pécresse prefers to accelerate the “digital shift” in the health sector and will submit the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) to a “High Council for Economic and Digital Sovereignty”. Finally, it proposes to reserve 50% of Cloud hosting tenders in the public sector to European players.
Until now, defense was not a real subject until Putin landed in the east… The presidential candidates therefore took up the subject. Anne Hidalgo will revise the military programming law for 2019-2025 upwards. Emmanuel Macron wishes to pursue the objective of 2% of GDP in military expenditure and will invest in innovations such as electromagnetic trains, underwater drones, nanosatellites for space surveillance… Fabien Roussel has also declined his public poles for the industries of armament. He wants to stop “toxic exports”.
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Reassured? If you want to know more about how your taxes will be spent over the next 5 years, check out the complete works in their original translation. Don’t forget, the first round is Sunday, April 10!
And the environment in all this?
Could the war in Ukraine and COVID have erased climate change? Not really, even if the priorities have been changed and the homeopathic measures. One thing is certain, in the letters of intent of the applicants, the protection and the exploitation of the ocean seem to have a consensus. A way to drown out the rest?
[Extraits des programmes de campagne]
Hidalgo: “I would provide more human and engineering resources to public bodies that play a key role in adapting to climate change (water agencies, ONF, Météo-France, Cerema, Ademe, etc.)” .
Marine Le Pen: “I want to create a French Sovereign Fund, FSF, [pour, entre autres,] financing ecological transformation. »
Fabien Roussel:[la recherche]must concern all the modes of carbon-free energy production (renewable, nuclear fission or fusion), as well as their interaction with the network (storage, management, etc.)”.
Éric Zemmour: “I want to create a real industrial and research sector in the recycling of plastics in order to reach the objective of 50% of volumes recycled by 2025. And make France a pioneer in low-carbon aviation by equipping it with the first 100% biokerosene aircraft before 2030”.
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Presidential 2022: what is the place of research and innovation in the programs?…
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