Macron and the end of abundance

In the first meeting of the French cabinet after the summer break, France's President Emmanuel Macron warned of an "end to abundance" and called for more frugality. In view of major upheavals, environmental disasters and armed conflicts, the carefree times are over, he said. Commentators take issue with his choice of terms.

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La Tribune de Genève (CH) /

Curious statements

Macron's change of attitude is significant, La Tribune de Genève underlines:

“To tell the truth, nobody knows what will happen. It depends on Putin's decisions regarding gas supplies. ... It also depends on the number of nuclear reactors [the French energy company] EDF can get back into operation before winter. ... And it depends in no small measure on how severe the winter is. ... Last week Macron spoke of 'a great upheaval' that marks our times: the 'end of abundance' and a 'carefree' attitude. These are curious statements coming from the mouth of the man who recently mocked the Amish environmental model, and they highlight how shaken we are in the face of the crisis and climate change.”

El País (ES) /

Finally acknowledging the facts

Political scientist Jorge Riechmann argues in El País that the focus should be on changing the system:

“How can one speak of abundance in societies where chronic inequality is worsening and the one percent at the top of the pyramid is hoarding all the income and wealth? And link this call to make sacrifices to a pointless war? ... Nonetheless, we who are aware of the eco-social tragedy should thank Emmanuel Macron for partially breaking the discursive consensus of the elites that denies reality. ... Energy-saving is indeed falling short of what we need it to be, and of course this points to the need for a change of system.”

The Conversation (FR) /

Develop new lifestyle scenarios

The benefits of moderate consumption need to be demonstrated more clearly, writes Pierre Galio of the French ecological change agency Ademe in The Conversation:

“Achieving a certain level of consumption that guarantees a decent standard of living remains a very common aspiration among the French. Year after year, for almost 40 years, they have expressed a preference for bolstering purchasing power over enjoying more leisure time. Moreover, advocating frugality risks increasing the rifts within the population. So it's important to explain the impact and benefits of frugality, as well as the changes necessary to develop alternative scenarios of future lifestyles and collective visions.” (GR) /

A foreign word in Greece

Protagon describes how Macron's statements are being received in Greece:

“The country has been through several years of economic crisis and a tough budget adjustment. 'Abundance' is a foreign word for the vast majority of Greeks - certainly for the economically weaker, but also for a large part of the middle class. The same goes for 'security' and 'carefree'. One would expect Greece's exit from supervision [by the EU on 20 August] to mean a return to these forgotten landmarks. But the circumstances are unlikely to allow this.”