of course, as always in the Senate, the tone was polite. But the battle between the opposition senators and the minister of Culture, Franck Riester has been a long and continued late into the night. The High assembly, where the executive power are obliged to deal with the majority of the right and the left forces, began on Monday the first reading of the text surrounding the restoration of the cathedral of Notre-Dame. Almost all of the groups have warned the government against a “law of exception” and a project that would be carried out drum beating.
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The text already adopted by the national Assembly ratifies the opening of a national drive to manage the donations of individuals, businesses, or communities that have immediately sprung up after the fire that destroyed it on April 15, the frame, and the arrow of this iconic landmark. It provides for an increase of the tax reduction applicable to individual donations (increased to 75% in the limit of 1000€). Against the advice of the government, the Senate provided that it shall apply with effect from 15 April, in order not to penalize early contributors, whereas the original text had fixed the period of 16 April to 31 December.
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The part of the bill, the most controversial, concerns the creation by orders of a public institution, intended to ensure the conduct of studies and work. Just as controversial, the article empowering the government to derogate from certain rules (urban planning, environment, construction, heritage preservation, public order) has been deleted by the senators from the review commission, with the concurrence of practically all the groups. “Yes, we will restore Notre-Dame de Paris. The president has set a goal, 5 years, it is a time to be ambitious, pro-active (…). In this task, which awaits us, we do not confondrons never, for all speed and haste,” said the minister of Culture, Franck Riester.
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“It is a law to rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris, Our Lady of the Élysée palace”
The head of State reaffirmed Friday that calendar which irritates the senators very nearly all the benches. “It is a law to rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris, Our Lady of the Élysée palace”, has attacked the socialist senator from Paris, David Assouline. “I was particularly shocked that Unesco has not even been approached since the beginning”, he added. The rapporteur LR Alain Schmitz has deemed it “absurd to be trapped within the period of 5 years, if it should lead to compromising on the quality of the site”. “You wanted to go fast, why not? Provided that this remains a goal and not a necessity, said the president, a centrist of the commission of Culture Catherine Morin-Desailly. The project can last what it should last”. “Patience, you override the emergency (…), the perseverance you switch performance”, has accused the leader of the senators LR Bruno Retailleau, while the communist Pierre Ouzoulias, curator of the heritage, civil mentioned a “dispossession” of competent authorities “for the benefit of a device controlled from the highest summit of the State”.
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The senators inscribed in the text a reference to France’s international commitments in the field of heritage, which needed to “preserve the authenticity and integrity of the monument during its restoration. It will have to be faithful to the “last visual state known as” the monument prior to the loss, including the arrow, had recorded the senators, against the advice of the government, specifying the use of materials different from those of origin must be justified. This point has met with opposition from the PS, for which he “would prohibit any architectural gesture later”. It has revived the debate that had followed the announcement of an international architectural competition to restore the arrow.
“The State cannot afford to eliminate existing rules without taking the risk of questioning”
Late in the evening, Franck Riester sought the restoration of article 9, deleted in committee. It is a question of whether the executive will be able to evade regulations applicable to this type of work: the standards governing the construction, those for the licensing of the work, the development of planning documents, urban planning, heritage conservation, archaeology, highways, the transportation, those defining the public order and protecting the public domain. And, lastly, the rules concerning the environmental assessment and the protection of the environment.
“I hope that no-name architect does not come to scratch Notre-Dame de Paris, because we are custodian of this monument, and we must pass it on to other generations”
Out of the question for a large majority of senators, the rapporteur Alain Schmitz in the lead. “Such exemptions will not fail to cast doubts on the exemplary nature of the construction of Notre-Dame”, he justified, adding that the freedoms sought by the government constitute “a real danger to the credibility of our legislation”. “The State cannot afford to eliminate existing rules without taking the risk of questioning”, he also warned. “You don’t even know where you are going to go. We do not know a thing, it is that there is this injunction: it is five years. And for the rest, we don’t know”, has also criticised David Assouline. “Thank god, or rather Marianne thank you, the word presidential is not law,” launched the senator LR Olivier Paccaud by denouncing the “staging” of the Elysium. “Culture is not a productivism, culture is not a stakhanovisme. A reconstruction, this is not a speed race!”, a-t-he explained. “Your text is a bit baroque for a gothic cathedral,” joked his colleague Jerome Bacher. Senator PS Angèle Préville, she has a wish: “I form the vow that no name of an architect, known or not, does not come to scratch Notre-Dame de Paris, because we are custodian of this monument, and we must pass it on to other generations”.
A 1h16, the Senate refused the restoration of the article, and a few minutes later, adopted the new version of the text. “This act is outstanding, but it is more exception, since it has been rewritten by the Senate,” said David Assouline.