In response to: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ma ... 021-10-12/I don't say much about living here in France, not least because Britain is doing so badly right now. Suffice to say that over here there are no queues, no shortages, no obvious problems and no obvious stress. The Covid situation seems relaxed here with few restrictions, and the hospitals aren't under pressure.
Gas prices went up 12% but are now capped for the winter. It is not allowed in France to turn off supplies of gas or electric, or to evict tenants, in the winter. In short, nothing much to report!
But President Macron has always talked about resilience in France, and so this announcement of a new €30 billion of investment in future key technologies and localised manufacturing of critical products, on top of the €100 billion EU investment in Green technologies and transitioning to a low carbon economy (from what is already a low carbon economy to most people!) all boost France's future economy and it's resilience.
This approach isn't new. France has 80 days worth of gas storage, for example, compared to Britain's 5 days. France produces all it's own electricity; 70% nuclear, 15% hydro, and 8% wind and solar, and sells a surplus to Britain and Germany.
France produces a net surplus of food in almost every category, and exports or trades the surplus, helped by the fact that it has 2.5 times as much land as Britain per head of population.
With 30% forest and much of it under management, it produces most of it's own timber for construction, manufacturing and fuel.
It spends almost double what Britain spends on it's healthcare and more than double on old people's and social care.
France produces it's own warships, planes, cars, trucks and buses, it's own steel and concrete and chemicals.
And the French Gov't has always held onto a stake in it's key industries - it never sold off all it's assets as Thatcher did in Britain in the 1980's. Which is why French companies, including govt owned ones, now run transport, water, electricity, waste management and many other major service companies in Britain!
Underlying all this are three fundamental differences in approach that are, I think, instructive:
- The first is that in France, business is there to provide for the wellbeing of their people, rather than in Britain where people are just considered to be a resource for businesses to make more privatised profits (As a friend says, not 'citizens' but 'consumers' or 'workers'.)
- Secondly, the huge difference between Tory Austerity and sink-or-swim policies, and France's social support policies.
I don't understand the Tory Victorian addiction to Austerity, which guts an economy of investment at the most critical time. It has NEVER worked, it is economically illiterate and has destroyed the social fabric of Britain. And yet Sunak is doing it all over again! It isn't 'creative destruction', it is just destruction. But France (and most EU countries) support businesses and people through hard times, then tax them a little more through good times. The result is stability, job security and resilience, as has been proven by the almost zero impact of the pandemic and the fast recovery to EU growth.
-Thirdly, the French seem to take the long view. They seem happy to invest for 10 or 20 years in the future, even taking a broader view of the benefits, such as resilience, stability and security, beyond the financial profits. They like stability and security rather than the quick buck.
For the last 30 years, much of this stuff hasn't mattered much. Both countries were doing OK, with similar GDP and economic figures. As someone who has lived in both countries, it was mostly hard to tell the differences.
But not now, not in a crisis. It turns out that Britain was blagging it, running up the credit cards, not servicing the car, pawning the furniture, starving the kids, dropping off the grandparents outside the Work House! With nothing left to sell, and no-one who wants to employ Britain for anything anymore, there is nowhere to go but down. Covid and Brexit have now dealt a serious blow to Britain, and the cracks are showing everyone that it is just a hollow shell of it's former self.
Confidence is everything and, as Boris trashes any idea of honesty, diplomacy and international cooperation, and as the traders line up to dump the £ down the toilet, and as key industries grind to a halt for a lack of energy, Britain looks more and more like a loser.
But I think France looks increasingly like a winner. If you can leave any remaining loyalty and patriotism aside for a moment, what do you think?