Thank you, Mr President.
Dear Bruno Studer, Chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education,
Rapporteur of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education, dear Anne Brugnera,
Madam Rapporteur of the Finance Committee, dear Marie-Ange Magne,
Ladies and gentlemen of the Assembly,
On the evening of April 15, the country held its breath, and with it, the whole world.
Seeing the arrow collapse, one thought crossed all of us: the possibility that we were witnessing the total destruction of Notre-Dame de Paris.
We had convinced ourselves that, because this cathedral was there before us, it would necessarily be there after us.
If she’d gone through eight centuries to us, she’d still know how to go through the next.
What held us in front of the images of Our Lady ablaze, what reached us, saddened us, terrified us, was to see this rushed certainty, and to ignore what would happen.
It was to see this part of France consumed, and not to know whether, yes or no, the flames would engulf it.
It was to see that part of us go away, without our being able to hold it back.
I can’t help it.
So, very quickly, the French wanted to act.
And our fear of fire was matched only by the extraordinary mobilization that followed.
Mobilization of women and men, who, sometimes at the risk of their lives, stopped the burning and saved the works.
They are the fire-fighters of Paris, helped and strengthened by their colleagues of the other departments of Ile-de-France, the police officers, but also the agents of the Ministry of Culture, the City of Paris and the diocese. I want to sincerely thank them for their commitment.
If the vaults are still very fragile, the building is now saved. We owe it to their professionalism, dedication and courage.
Mobilization of experts, institutions, companies, whose pledges and proposals for assistance in skills have multiplied.
Above all, it is a popular mobilization.
Hundreds of thousands of donations from individuals have flowed from all over France and around the world.
Even today, they continue to reach us.
We had to create a framework to welcome them.
To accompany, encourage and frame this surge of generosity.
To match this exceptional fervour with an exceptional device.
This is the meaning of the bill for the conservation and restoration of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and establishing a national subscription for this purpose.
Yes, we will rebuild Our Lady.
The President of the Republic has set a goal.
Five years is an ambitious, voluntarist time frame that will motivate the troops and mobilize all the teams involved, in the service of Notre-Dame.
In this task that awaits us, we will not confuse speed and precipitation.
We must offer Our Lady a restoration to the height of her splendour, to the height of what she symbolizes.
On a number of points, there is an urgent need to intervene.
On others, we will have to take the time to reflect.
The current situation of Our Lady imposes these two temporalities on us.
This legislation manages to reconcile them.
So yes, we want to move quickly.
We were accused of going very fast.
But it was the surge of generosity that went very fast!
It was the donations for Our Lady that quickly abounded!
And we had to be able to answer it just as quickly!
That is what we have done.
Now, we must reaffirm the purpose of the dedicated national subscription, launched by the President of the Republic and placed under his high authority.
And lay down, by law, the main principles and rules applicable to it.
We must be able to provide security guarantees to hundreds of thousands of donors, French or foreign.
I want to thank them very sincerely for their generosity.
They will not be betrayed: their gifts will go to Our Lady.
Only and entirely to Notre-Dame, to its conservation, its restoration, its maintenance, in the short, medium and long term.
Some people suggest that we already have too much money raised, more than it takes to restore the cathedral.
But while we have already received some donations, others are still waiting for concrete results.
In addition, the total cost of the work has not yet been quantified.
For the time being, work is only focused on securing the building – which, I want to repeat, remains fragile at the vault.
Allow me to thank, very sincerely, for their dedication and their reactivity, the companies which, from Monday evening, with the services of the Ministry of Culture, have undertaken a colossal, exceptional work to safeguard the essential. Thank you to them and all their teams.
Only then will we go to the diagnostic phase and then to the restoration itself.
Under these conditions, it is totally premature to say that we would have surpluses to manage.
To operate this national subscription, in addition to direct payments to the State, we can count, since April 16, on the mobilization of three foundations recognized of public utility:
- the Fondation de France,
- the Heritage Foundation,
- and the Notre-Dame Foundation.
And that of the National Monuments Centre, operator of the Ministry of Culture.
I want to thank them.
I would like to remind you that Notre-Dame de Paris is a historic monument belonging to the State.
This is why the State is ultimately the recipient of donations.
I would also like to remind you that the text of the law we are about to debate will not, of course, infringe the principles of the laws of 1905 and 1907, that is, neither the principle of secularism, nor the division of prerogatives and responsibilities between the State, owner of the cathedral, and the Catholic Church, who is its assignee.
All donations will be made through the national subscription, with the exception of those specifically intended to finance the restoration of religious property belonging to the diocese or, more generally, the needs of the exercise of worship.
These are not cultural goods, but religious goods.
Agreements may be concluded between the State and each of the three recognized foundations of public utility – as well as with certain donors.
The precise modalities of the agreement remain to be determined.
Amendments that we are going to examine have been the subject of them: they should make it possible to advance the text on this point.
I am thinking in particular of the amendment which provides that the conventions shall lay down the procedures for the payment of funds by foundations recognized as being of public utility or by donors.
I am in favour of its adoption, and I salute the group La République en Marche, behind Cathy Racon-Bouzon and Raphaël Gérard, as well as the group MoDem behind Sophie Mette, who have worked hard on the subject.
In addition, in order to be transparent about the use of the funds raised, a monitoring committee will be set up.
It will bring together the First President of the Court of Auditors and the chairmen of the committees responsible for finance and culture of the Senate and the National Assembly.
This audit must be carried out in cooperation and without prejudice to those of the Court of Auditors.
Local and regional authorities and their groupings will also be able to participate in the financing of the works, beyond their scope of territorial competence.
Article 4 removes any uncertainty arising from the usual rules of jurisdiction or the condition of local interest.
The Minister of Action and Public Accounts, Gérald Darmanin, will have the opportunity to repeat that community spending in favour of Notre-Dame will be considered capital spending.
They will therefore not be taken into account when calculating the annual ceiling for operating expenditure of 1.2%.
For individuals, the law introduces a specific tax system to accompany their donations.
I would like to commend the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, and the Minister of Action and Public Accounts, Gérald Darmanin, for the close work we have done.
Within the limit of EUR 1000, the draft law increases from 66 % to 75 % the rate of reduction of income tax in respect of donations and payments made by individuals to the public treasury, the National Monuments Centre, and the three recognized foundations of public utility.
This device, I remind you, only concerns individuals.
It was designed to cover donations from the largest number of French people.
It is precisely limited:
- Time-limited with a tax benefit for donations made between April 16 and December 31, 2019.
- and limited in amounts, with a donation ceiling eligible for the tax reduction set at 1000 euros.
These limits do not prevent giving beyond this date, or above this ceiling.
But in this case, the tax advantage associated with the donation will be that of ordinary law.
I want to thank the members of the finance committee.
You have made it possible to improve this text by introducing, through Article 5a, a requirement for transparency with regard to the monitoring of the subscription and the application of the related tax system.
The Government will report to Parliament in a report, which will examine the share and amount of donations made under the national subscription resulting in a tax reduction.
That is a good thing. And we could consider going further.
Thank you, rapporteur, dear Marie-Ange Magne; rapporteur general, dear Joël Giraud; dear Bénédicte Peyrol, and dear Gilles Carrez, for their work.
More generally, I would like to thank all the members of the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Cultural Affairs and its rapporteur, Anne Brugnera, who has done an outstanding job.
I know the work she has done to educate, clarify and coordinate all the stakeholders.
I know his commitment to culture.
The committee work has been very fruitful, thanks to all of you.
On all these subjects, I said, we will go quickly…
But we won’t rush.
Restoration will not be done in haste.
It must be at the height, as I said and I repeat, of the splendour of Notre-Dame de Paris.
We will be able to take into account the opinions of heritage professionals, curators, architects, historians, academics, and all those involved in the maintenance, conservation and restoration of our monuments.
We will listen to them.
And we can trust them.
There must be time for reflection, so that we can make all the choices that are necessary, and to make them in due course.
I want to anticipate them, as far as possible, in the legislation, to avoid having to come back to you tomorrow.
That is the meaning of clauses 8 and 9 of the bill.
We are thinking about the optimal organization to carry out this project with regard to the objectives set.
The choice of organization has not yet been made.
We are giving ourselves the opportunity to create a new public institution for that purpose.
In any case, however, I want to say to you three crucial points:
- The mastery of this project will be carried out, according to the rules of art, by the chief architects of the historic monuments. The Government will defend an amendment that allows to clarify the text of law on this point.
- The National Heritage and Architecture Commission will be regularly consulted on the progress of the work and the restoration choices, as is the case in a project of this magnitude.
- And, whatever the choice of organization is chosen, it must make it possible to take into account the legitimate interests of the main stakeholders interested in restoration, particularly the City of Paris and the diocese.
Ladies and gentlemen of the House,
If no operation of restoration of a historical monument had yet given rise to such a legislative adaptation, it is because we are facing a situation totally unprecedented in our History.
The project ahead is exceptional, ambitious and unique.
In order to achieve this, we want to give ourselves the opportunity to relax certain provisions, essentially procedural.
Hence the enabling article 9.
But it goes without saying that the flexibilities to the laws in force will be strictly proportionate to the needs of the yard.
There is no question of using the restoration of Notre Dame to trample on French and European heritage, environmental or urban planning law.
That was never the intention of the Government.
We will have an opportunity to come back to this in the debate that will follow.
I want to say it again and again: as Minister of Culture, I will be tirelessly the guarantor of the protection of heritage.
And I am committed to engaging all the ministers involved.
The interdepartmental work in the coming weeks will allow us to define, together, the flexibilities and adaptations to be expected.
There are specific rules that apply to the restoration of built heritage and furniture, formalized in the Heritage Code, and that also correspond to France’s excellence in this field.
This excellence is recognized around the world.
So of course those rules will apply.
I will be the guarantor: this is my commitment.
At every moment, and as you yourself have recalled, we will insist on preserving the historical, artistic and architectural interest of the monument.
We will have an opportunity to look at the amendment that clarifies the legislation on this point, with the rest of the amendments, in a few moments.