Gérard Larcher, president of the French Senate, met representatives of AFP's joint unions (CGT, CFDT, SNJ, FO and SUD) for around an hour to discuss plans to change the company's statutes and turn it into a publicly-funded state entity.
M. Larcher, who had previously met with AFP CEO Pierre Louette, said he was concerned to hear all the varying points of view on AFP's future, in order to "see if we can move forward in a positive fashion, by listening to one another."
The union reps all stressed the dangers of AFP being made into a state entity and a de facto joint stock company.../...
M. Larcher said that on account of the Parliament's "heavy legislative workload," the plan to change AFP's statutes was not likely to come before it at the start of next year. He proposed to "set up parliamentary hearings before the draft law is submitted."
He also noted that a parliamentary mission to be organised in the lower house by Michèle Tabarot, president of the National Assembly's Cultural Affairs Committee, was due to hold its first auditions in the near future. M. Larcher said he intended to consult the speaker of the lower house, Bernard Accoyer, to try and ensure that the work of the two chambers "does not give rise to divergences".
.../... After coordinated work by the two chambers, joint conclusions should be drawn up leading to new hearings, he added. It was important to decide whether the proposed changes to the 1957 statutes required a full legislative process, or whether the job could be done simply via decrees.
"The aim is to have a stronger AFP at the end of the day," he concluded.
For the union representatives, M. Larcher's proposals go in the right direction, and are in line with the views of the many leading citizens, both on the right and left, who have already signed the "petition for the independance and survival of AFP" (over 20,000 signatures to date).
Paris, November 6, 2009.