AAPA meets Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire

On Monday, June 25 the AAPA met with the French minister of economics and finance, Bruno Le Maire. Le Maire received the organization in his offices at the Ministry of Finance. The Minister gave a broad overview of French president Macron’s plans for France and Europe. Le Maire said Europe must impose itself as a counterweight, between China and the US. « We have European values that are different and unique, » he said.

Le Maire took questions for a full hour. We discussed European sanctions on American imports and the mounting trade war, Macron’s reform plans for France and the current international climate tinged with populism.

-Eleanor Beardsley

Huge success for the 2018 AAPA Gala

Hats off to Canada! They hosted a fabulous party for our press association on June 20 at Canadian Ambassador Isabelle Hudon's gorgeous residence and garden.

We had a record turnout of 130 members and guests.

Pascal Lamy remains optismistic about the future of trade


Pascal Lamy, who was director-general of the World Trade Organization for two terms from 2005 to 2013, talked to 25 members of the AAPA at a breakfast meeting at Chez Françoise in late May. The meeting came just as US President Donald Trump was about to introduce tariffs on his European allies for aluminum and steel and as the US threatened sanctions on European firms doing business in Iran. In this ever turbulent period, and despite a fractious G7 meeting in Canada that followed, Mr. Lamy said that he remained optimistic that Trump wouldn't upend the international order on trade  - at least not yet - because it simply doesn't make economic sense from any party involved.

-Sara Miller Llana


French Bill Gates Says Giving is the Way of the Future

Twenty years ago as an enthusiastic entrepreneur,  Alexandre Mars, confidently predicted the success of the Internet and the mobile telephone. Today, as a middle-aged philanthropist (having profited himself from his predictions), he is forecasting that corporate giving is the next big thing.

Mars spoke to the AAPA on Friday May 18 at a breakfast gathering at Strategies & Corp in Paris.

He now spends most of his time and all of his profits on the Epic Foundation, the non-profit he started to scale up a portfolio of international NGOs in countries such as Africa and India in such areas as healthcare, preventing violence against women, and preserving the environment. No one escapes his reach – individuals, families, companies, corporations - when it comes to raising money for Epic...

"Giving has to be easy and painless," Mars says. "You can do something as small as donating the odd-cents on your pay stub every week to pledging shares of your company."

He's convinced that investors, employees and the general public will be looking at more than corporate financial pictures when making choices in the future. Corporate social activities will count, too. "People want to know how a company is engaged, he says. And for employees, it’s not about whether you have an office with a view. It's what you and the company you work for are doing for the world."

-Shellie Karabell


Le Monde boss Jérôme Fenoglio tells AAPA how his paper has managed to thrive in the current grim media landscape

Plans for an English edition of Le Monde, combating fake news, and how the leading French daily is - finally - doing rather nicely in a changed and ever-changing media landscape: these and many other topics were covered when Le Monde editor Jérôme Fenoglio hosted the AAPA.
The event was held on March 27 at the newspaper's premises in the 13th arrondissement, where the imposing building's grand entrance hall has been shut for security reasons since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in early 2015 (access is by side doors).
Mr Fenoglio leads a team of 450 journalists who together produce one of the world’s great daily newspapers. He joined the paper in 1991, and worked in a variety of positions there before being appointed editor in 2015.
He was also questioned by AAPA members on  media ownership and state subsidies to the press, the prospects for “legacy” newspapers in a digital world, and his take on the brave new world that Macron is bent on building in France.

‘Sociologist of emotions’ Eva Illouz on #MeToo and French versus ‘Anglo-Saxon’ sexual mores

The US-educated Franco-Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz spoke to the Anglo-American Press Association for two hours on February 21st at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, where she teaches.

Illouz is a leading expert in the study of feminism and male-female relationships. She explained how the #MeToo movement sparked by accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein is unique, describing it as “the reverberating light of a star that exploded in the 1960s,” that is to say, the feminist movement.

Illouz does not think #MeToo marks the end of sexual harassment, but that “men are going to think about the future consequences of their actions, which is something they did not do before.”

French sexual mores are less strict than those in Anglo-Saxon countries, in part because the Catholic aristocrats’ practice of remaining in marriage while having lovers “trickled down,” and because of a tradition of libertinage that is absent in the US.

French women tend to see their own sexual attractiveness as a source of power, for historical reasons, Illouz said. Since the court of Louis XIV, French women have used sexuality as a means of gaining power. And French women drew up the code of gallantry that dictated to men how they should seduce women.

Asked whether US President Donald Trump behaves like a French aristocrat, Illouz said that Trump’s relations with women were “really about the crude exchange of money for sex and beauty.”

Illouz also teaches at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has lectured at prestigious universities around the world, including Oxford, Princeton and Yale. She appears regularly in publications such as Ha’aretz and Le Monde newspapers. In Germany, where her work is particularly well known, Die Zeit newspaper called Illouz one of the twelve people most likely to “shape the thought of tomorrow.”

-Lara Marlowe



Dear Members,

A short note to wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year (and belatedly posting this message on our website a tad later than it was sent out by email).
As you will all likely know by now, members elected me president of the association at the annual general meeting in December.
Thank you again for your confidence in me, and in the new Secretary General Cathy Nolan as well as the new committee line-up, which features some new faces alongside the veteran officers.
And thank you again to the outgoing leadership for their hard work over the past year. If I have done as well as they did by this time next year, I will regard my term in office as a success.
The committee and I will do our best to provide you with a varied range of guests and a lively set of social events, including of course the increasingly popular Happy Hour on the last Friday of every month, over the next 12 months.
The AAPA year kicked off with a flurry of guests - Mediapart's Edwy Plenel on January 9, CGT leader Philippe Martinez on January 11, Xavier Niel on January 24, and Benjamin Griveaux on February 12.
We look forward to seeing you at the many other events that are in the pipeline for the coming months.
Please also consider joining the AAPA Facebook group. It's a closed group that only AAPA members can join, so what you post there is seen only by members.

Bonne année 2018

Rory Mulholland

Benjamin Griveaux provides insider’s view of the Macron administration

Brexit, Germany, European parliamentary elections, the economy, Islam in France, and Corsican nationalism were among the many topics government spokesman and cabinet member Benjamin Griveaux discussed with the AAPA at a meeting on February 12.
Griveaux was spokesman for Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign and over lunch with 28 members of the Association, he recounted the foundation of Macron’s En marche! movement.
He said the president’s most salient characteristic is that “he never considers anything is acquis” - permanently acquired. “He’s not satisfied with the status quo. If you tell him that something is impossible, he says it isn’t.”
As a candidate, Macron organised a country-wide grande marche to determine what the French people wanted from the future.
“If I had to summarise it in one sentence, people told us they were prevented, by glass ceilings, by obstacles, by barriers,” Griveaux said. “We no longer had a republic of progress, of meritocracy, of fulfilment through work.”
Griveaux said that “reintroducing the notion of risk in French political life” was “the most disruptive thing President Macron accomplished.”
US President Donald Trump has invited Macron for a state visit to Washington in late April. Trump said in January he might keep the US in the Paris climate accord because of his warm relationship with Macron.
Griveaux said the two leaders will certainly discuss the climate accord and multilateralism – in particular in the Middle East – when Macron goes to Washington. “They will probably talk about the status of Jerusalem”.
Pressed on the nature of the relationship between the US and French leaders, Griveaux said: “I don’t think he’s buddies with Trump. When you’re a head of state, it’s not about feelings.”

-Lara Marlowe

Macron is no revolutionary but has given France a much-need makeover, says telecom tycoon Xavier Niel

President Emmanuel Macron has not revolutionised France but he has given the country a much-needed image makeover, telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel told the AAPA during a meeting on January 24.

Niel met with the association at Station F, a huge start-up incubator housed in a former railway depot near the Seine river which Macron inaugurated a month after coming to power last year. Station F's manager Roxanne Varza was also present.

Speaking on the day that Macron took to the stage in Davos declaring "France is back", Niel said: "France has not changed.

"What really changed is the fact of having a young, dynamic president, who is not from any political party. He has given France a pro-startup, pro-entrepreneur image abroad that we did not really have before."

Station F, which has taken in 1,000 start-ups, is a symbol of the "start-up nation" that Macron wants France to become.

Niel, who like Macron is something of an outlier in his field, made a fortune by producing France's first combo phone-TV-internet service.

He said Macron's reduction of taxes on capital gains and dividends have made France more attractive for investors, making it easier for start-ups to secure funding.

Adding to France's lure are US President Donald Trump anti-immigration policies, Britain's decision to leave the European Union and the struggles of Angela Merkel to form a coalition.

"England maybe does not appear very stable under Theresa May, Germany doesn't maybe seem much fun with a leader who is starting to get on in years, and the United States under Donald Trump doesn't seem very welcoming to strangers," said Niel. "In the midst of all that, we're doing quite nicely."

Varza said one quarter of Station F's start-ups were foreign, with the US and Britain the countries most represented among non-French companies.

Niel said he was confident France would soon overtake Britain to become Europe's technology capital.

He did not see France's crusade to get US digital giants such as Facebook and Google to pay more taxes as a deterrent.

Niel predicted that the threat of legislation forcing companies to pay taxes in the EU country where they create value -- rather than countries with low tax rates -- would convince the companies to pay more locally.

-Clare Byrne

CGT union leader Martinez vows to keep up the fight against Macron reforms

Philippe Martinez, the leader of the hardline CGT union, conceded during his January 11 meeting with the AAPA that he had failed to prevent President Macron’s labour law reform.  But he vowed to continue fighting tooth and nail to prevent France becoming more like Britain - in his eyes a land of zero-hours contracts, diminishing workers’ rights, and official contempt for the unemployed.

Asked if he thought that Mr Macron was hoping to emulate Margaret Thatcher in her epic battle with Britain’s unions in the 1980s, Mr Martinez replied: "His aim is to eliminate the unions.... He takes his inspiration from that model (Thatcher's model)... His is a policy of repression of unions." But he recognised that the CGT, faced with falling membership, will have to ‘modernise a little, given that the world of work has changed” with the advent of Uber type firms and the digital economy.

-Rory Mulholland