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Feminism, schools and capitalism: The 9 French ministers releasing books this autumn

At least nine French government ministers have upcoming book releases. Simultaneously fulfilling both literary and political ambitions, they join a long list of published authors in the corridors of power.

Feminism, schools and capitalism: The 9 French ministers releasing books this autumn
Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

As the five-year mandate of France’s government draws to a close, ministers have been setting pen to paper – and not just on official documents. 

Here’s a look at the new releases:

Prolific writer and Citizenship Minister Marlène Schiappa is set to bring out her latest novel on October 6th. Sa façon d’être à moi (His way of being to me) will interrogate timely political questions, ranging from workplace harassment to environmental policy and greenwashing. 

Schiappa was a writer before she became a politician. She founded Maman travaillea blog for working mothers, in 2008, and has authored numerous essays and novels exploring questions of contemporary feminism. She has also never denied claims published in newspaper L’Express that she previously wrote erotic novels under a pseudonym. 

READ ALSO La rentrée littéraire: When France goes book crazy

Keeping with the theme of feminism: Élisabeth Moreno, the Gender Equality Minister, and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the Industry Minister, are reportedly  collaborating to produce a passionate argument for gender equality. 

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has penned a 112-page pamphlet titled École ouverte (Open School). Published on September 9th, the short work reflects upon the French government’s management of the pandemic, defending the controversial decision to keep France’s schools open for as long as possible. 

According to UNESCO figures, France’s schools were fully or partially shuttered for just 12 weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, representing the shortest school closures in the European Union. 

Blanquer’s Minister Delegate for Youth and Engagement, Sarah El Haïry, has also been hard at work putting together a new book. Set to be released on October 20th, the semi-autobiographical Envie de France (Desire of France) will explore El Haïry’s vision of citizenship, including reflections upon her own Franco-Moroccan heritage. 

Housing Minister Emmanuelle Wargon is also merging the personal and the political. Her 432-page memoir-manifesto explores themes of solidarity, fraternity, and political struggle. Advocating perseverance in the face of crisis, Bienvenue en politique, à ceux qui sont tentés de renoncer (Welcome to politics, to those who are tempted to give up) will be released on September 22nd. 

Meanwhile, Olivia Grégoire, Minister of State for the Social, Inclusive and Responsible Economy, has written an essay outlining her vision for a citizen-focused capitalism. Et après ? Pour un capitalisme citoyen (And afterwards? For a citizen capitalism) will be released on October 21st, and rumour has it, according to Le Parisien, the preface may be penned by none other than President Emmanuel Macron himself. 

Le Parisien also reports that Grégoire’s boss, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, is working on his 14th book, although neither the subject nor the publication date has yet been revealed.

This would mark Le Maire’s fourth book since his arrival at the Finance Ministry in May 2017. His latest work, L’Ange et la Bête: Mémoires provisoires (The Angel and the Beast: Provisional Memoires), was released just this January, sparking a literary stir through its personal revelations, as well as its poetic description of Emmanuel Macron’s piercing blue gaze (click here for an extract).

Adrien Taquet, the Children and Families Minister, is also said to be working on a text, but details remain unknown.

Literary ambition is nothing new for France’s politicians, who have published everything from political manifestos to romantic novels and erotica.

Former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe co-wrote an an erotic detective novel titled Dans l’Ombre (In the Shadows), while former President Valéry Giscard D’Estaing sparked rumours of an affair with Princess Diana following the publication of his 1994 romantic novel Le Passage (The Passing). 

One book that few claim to have read, however, is an unpublished romance novel reportedly written by a young Emmanuel Macron about the love of his life, Brigitte.

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ENVIRONMENT

French energy firms urge ‘immediate’ cut in consumption to avoid shortages this winter

France's top three energy providers are imploring the public to reduce their energy consumption this summer in order to save resources and avoid shortages this winter as cuts to Russian gas and oil begin to bite.

French energy firms urge 'immediate' cut in consumption to avoid shortages this winter

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of the three top French energy companies came together to urge the French public to reduce their energy consumption.

The heads of TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie published an open letter in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday calling on the French to “immediately” reduce their consumption of petrol/gasoline, diesel, oil, electricity and gas in order to help stave off the shortages and soaring prices that could threaten “social cohesion” in France this winter.

The letter begs people to begin “acting this summer,” on cutting energy and fuel usage, adding that this “will allow us to be better prepared to face next winter and in particular to preserve our gas reserves.”

Why is there a risk of shortage this winter?

In light of the war in Ukraine, deliveries of Russian gas to France and other European nations via pipeline have been significantly decreased. Thus France, like the rest of Europe, is attempting to fill its gas reserves in preparation for this upcoming winter. The goal is to have French gas reserves at 100 percent by this fall

As Americans prepare for ‘driving season’ (when many families use their cars to go on vacation) and China begins to relax some of its lockdown measures, the world oil market is looking at high demand that may not be in line with current production capabilities. 

France is a relatively small consumer of Russian gas, but does depend heavily on domestic nuclear plants for energy – production of nuclear energy is however threatened by two things; droughts that mean shortages of water for cooling purposes at plants and maintenance issues that have lead to several plants being temporarily shut down for safety

Concern for adequate energy resources has been on the minds of energy providers for several years, according to the manager of France’s Electricity Transmission Network (RTE).

France has been anticipating that the winters of 2018 to 2024 would be “delicate” as this is a pivotal period for energy transition after several coal-powered plants were closed. France’s oldest nuclear plant, Fessenheim, was also shut down and disconnected from the French grid in 2020.

As of late May, almost half of France’s nuclear reactors were offline due to planned closures, as well as issues related to corrosion.  

What is the real risk of shortage this winter?

“There is no risk of shortage in the short term,” assured France’s Ministry of Environment in May, as there are up to “90 days worth of strategic stocks, as well as commercial stocks, which can both be distributed throughout the country as needed.” 

Experts like Professor Jan Horst Keppler, from Paris-Dauphine University, also do not anticipate a widespread shortage, though, “potential spot shortages are possible.”

Horst Keppler clarified that it is not possible in many cases to substitute one quality of oil for another, which could mean that some refineries may experience “spot shortages.” Therefore, he urged that consumers and providers will have to pay close attention to “the availability of gasoline, diesel and heating oil” even more so “than the availability of crude oil.”

Other European countries, however, are sounding the alarm. Germany, for example, will return to coal-powered energy in order to meet demands this winter. 

What are the energy companies doing to combat risk of shortage?

According to their statement, the heads of France’s top energy providers accept their “responsibility to act on the supply side” by implementing short term plans such as “diversifying gas supplies, proactively filling storage facilities, speeding up liquified natural gas (LNG) imports, and reactivating ‘mothballed’ facilities.”

Additionally, the leaders hope to launch a “major energy efficiency program” and a “national hunt for waste.”

In addition to ensuring adequate energy stocks for the winter, the three leaders also urge the French public to consider reducing consumption as a means for increasing household purchasing power in the fight against rising cost of living, as well as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also said that reducing energy “immediately” will show solidarity with other European nations at greater risk, particularly those in Eastern and Central Europe. 

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