Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the minister who “does not adore routine”, becomes that of crises in spite of herself

06:00, October 21, 2022

Even the last wave of Covid was for her: on October 9, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was forced to isolate herself, while continuing to manage the shortage of fuels linked to strikes in several French refineries. One more file in the pile of the Minister of Energy Transition, a pure “techno”, whose political transformation is accelerating with the years and the crises that she must face on behalf of the government. First in 2020, when she negotiated on behalf of France the supply of masks and vaccines during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when she was Secretary of State to the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire.

It is said of her that she is the minister of impossible missions », from his teams to Minister Marlène Schiappa. The two women estimated the same course: from civil society, walkers engaged in the first upheavals, promoted to ministers during the first five-year term. His colleague in charge of the Social and Solidarity Economy and Associative Life, Marlène Schiappa, has nothing but compliments: “ It has become a seasoned policy in a few years. It’s true that she often has “impossible missions” to carry out and she does it brilliantly! »

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From now on, she is the face of the plan of ” sobriety » government sauce, presented as the first lever of action against the energy crisis. Since taking up her post at the Ecological Transition in May, she has had around 45 appearances in the media. But it remains relatively unknown to the general public: in September, an Ifop barometer for Paris Match place it in 39th place in its ranking, with 51% of those questioned saying that they did not know it well enough to decide.

A radically nuanced minister

So Agnès Pannier-Runacher occupies the field, and connects the TV sets and trips. The practice at home is usual: nearly 300 trips on the counter when she deals with Industry. It comes to her from her first professional life, at Caisse des Dépôts, when she was Deputy CEO of its subsidiary, Compagnie des Alpes. ” She was already going a lot on the ground, I think she tried all the parks: it was not the enarque who landed and looked down on all this “, observes a manager of the Caisse des Dépôts who met her at the time.

For the minister, this seems natural: “ I have always done this in my professional life, my boss at the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Rose-Marie Van Lerberghe called it “management by walking. No reference to En Marche”she jokes. It is by going into the field, talking with people that we get the maximum amount of information, that we understand, in a very carnal and very emotional way, the issues. If you don’t go through this stage, you risk being far too disembodied and abstract. You have to understand what is at stake for people to work for you… »

Obviously I don’t hear the same thing at all on the ground in the mining area and in the Parisian microcosmshe explains again. We must be aware of these major gaps in perception, and at the same time, we must avoid falling into demagoguery and emotion. It’s not easy, because as soon as you have a nuanced position, we try to make you say that you said white or that you said black. “She claims the” nuance as the strongest radicality “, an idea that does not come from her, but from the philosopher Raymond Aron. ” Yes, I’m taking sides, yes I’m getting involved, but not just anyhow and I’m used to saying that indignation does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. »

Outrage does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Nuance again or false modesty, when she minimizes being ” the minister of impossible missions » or that of « seizures “. When you dig, what attracts him is the rapid resolution of concrete problems: “ Complicated moments are those when we manage to transform things, to have the most impact. “For example, she will gladly evoke her years at the AP-HP, ” a great mission “, not exempt from episodes of tension. “ The first two crises I managed, I was 28 years old at AP-HP, and 34 years old at Caisse des Dépôts when there was the financial crisis… It was probably in those two experiences that I I felt the most like sticking my head out the window of a fast-moving TGV. »

She recounts lightly this recurring dream she had during the financial crisis: I was in a round room where there were no doors. “She also has no trouble admitting that she took” lots of slaps “. “ I had a very strong feeling of guilt because we couldn’t manage everything. “To say that she was ready for the Covid pandemic would be going too far, especially since this period was the experience of a new world, that of politics. ” I only have four years of hindsight in the political world, it was an accelerated learning process “, she concedes.

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More revolutionary than one might think, she sees moments of crisis as ” opportunities “. ” I don’t think you have to want the crisis for the sake of the crisis “, she tempers immediately, “ but I find it interesting to try to force yourself to look at the positive of each moment, and the way in which the crisis reveals a need for change, to find a new balance that is more satisfactory for the collective. »

Indispensable income for the government?

The concrete, the ground, the real, Agnès Pannier-Runacher makes it her leitmotif: “ But doing politics means changing the world, and for that, it really has to change! What explains that there is a loss of confidence in politicians? What we are told is that politicians have made speeches for years that have not materialized on the ground. » « She has this spirit of being on a mission. It is his sense of the general interest: we go there, but we go there with courage », Notes his former colleague from Caisse des Dépôts. ” Politics was not necessarily natural for her, it’s a story of encounters… “, Analyzes this accustomed to the political world, who considers her transition successful: “ It is essential at the present time. On the political spectrum, as a standard bearer, to defend the government’s positions in the media…»

I assume to achieve this real equality including measures that may seem contrary to leftist software

What it is doing with the Energy Transition, more than a dossier, a ” fight “. “ I do not live the fights through a role that I played, but through the results that I obtain “, she summarizes. ” But the difficulty of politics is temporality and constancy in action. “Constant, she claims to be, having always voted on the left. She is involved in Territories of Progress, the movement of Olivier Dussopt, presented as the left leg of Renaissance, the party of the presidential majority. So yes, she is” always and absolutely on the left, she asserts. With an asterisk, however: I claim it precisely on what is the real. And I assume to achieve this real equality including measures that may seem contrary to leftist software. »

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When is the confrontation with the ballot box? Never elected, her engagement with En Marche was her first, and when she started out in public life, she openly admitted to having ” a rather weak political culture “. She considered for a time the possibility of running in the legislative elections last May, but gave up. But she says she is very present in Lens, where she lives with her companion, the former PS deputy from Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Nicolas Bays, who was also her chief of staff between 2020 and 2021. Agnès Pannier-Runacher leave the door ajar: I want to take up the fight against social determinism, against the inequality of destiny that I see at home in Lens, and which are insults to the Republic and to the pride that I place in my country. »

No time to develop this subject which fascinates her, it is necessary to end the conversation, which has already lasted much more than the quarter of an hour negotiated… It is necessary for her to defend the bill on the acceleration of the production of renewable energies , or weigh in the negotiations between Esso, Total and their union representatives, dozens of calls and messages to advance the negotiations according to his collaborators. And when we evoke, almost to make the conversation, this daily life at 100 kilometers per hour, she answers: ” Ah, but you know, like everyone else. A woman’s response in a hurry, which resonates with what she said a few minutes earlier: ” In fact, I don’t think I like routine. »

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