President Macron’s new Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has outlined their administration’s key priorities, saying they will give France back “its confidence, courage and conquering spirit”.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the government’s plans for the country while addressing the French parliament last week. It was a wide-ranging programme, so here we highlight 12 measures of particular interest for new residents and home buyers.
High speed internet will be guaranteed across the country within five years
Planning permission procedures will be simplified from this autumn and where demand for houses outstrips supply, power to allow building will be taken from town halls and given to public bodies. Of a different type of accommodation, 15,000 new prison places will be built!
High speed internet
There have been great developments on providing universal high speed internet across the country in recent years. The Prime Minister says this will be guaranteed everywhere over the next five years.
Cigarettes to rise nearly 50%
The government is aiming to reduce the number of smokers in France – where currently 80,000 people die from smoking-related diseases each year – so that children born today will be the first generation of non-smokers. The current price for a packet of cigarettes is €7 (the price is the same wherever you buy them unlike the variation in prices in the UK) but this will be gradually increased over the next couple of years to €10 per packet.
All children will need to be vaccinated from next year. A controversial subject, this one, but the thinking in France is that this will mean an end to many diseases such as German measles and chicken pox.
French residents will benefit from free glasses, hearing aids and general dental healthcare.
Free dental health, hearing aids and glasses
For the present five-year term of office, the Prime Minister announced that French residents will benefit from free glasses, hearing aids and general dental healthcare. The French healthcare system remains one of the finest in the world and this change is hugely welcomed by the French people. Moreover, benefits for disabled adults and the elderly and infirm will increase too. France has a large elderly population and this reform again is hugely welcomed.
State of emergency
France has suffered from various terrorist attacks resulting in a state of emergency which remains in force today. This will end on the 1st November although new anti-terrorism laws are going to be introduced.
France will also increase defend spending to 2% of GDP by 2025. This is the minimum recommended by NATO, of which both the UK and France are part. France has a slightly larger standing army, but has been spending around 1.78% of GDP on its military compared to the UK with 2.21%.
The baccalaureat will be reformed over the next four years, The exam, roughly equivalent to British A levels, is taken by most French students of 17 to 18 years of age. There will also be reform of France’s top universities (currently France’s has just one university in the QS 100 Top University rankings, while the UK has 18).
There is going to be a new national service as mentioned by President Macron when he was campaigning for election. Details are not available yet, but the consultation will finish by late 2017, with the promise “to prepare our children for this world that awaits, for this great and commendable, fair and strong France we aspire our country to be2”. Stirring words from Mr Philippe, but this is another controversial subject so we will watch this one with great interest.
As a thank you, all young people will get a Culture Pass, to allow them to enjoy the “cohesion and freedom” that comes from access to French books and works of art.
Carbon neutral by 2050
This has hit the news – France will banish all petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and all plastics will be recycled by the year 2025. President Macron is determined to make France totally carbon neutral by the year 2050.
Tax cuts for low paid and companies
The lowest paid workers will have their deductions cut so that those on minimum wage (currently about €1,480 a month) will enjoy greater spending power. Corporate tax will gradually be cut from 33.3% to 25% by the year 2022, the aim being to encourage new businesses to set up in France rather than abroad.
This is roughly equivalent to British council tax. President Macron promised to reform this tax before he was elected and the plan is to consult with local authorities so that in general people pay far less in contribution which should result in increased spending power.
The aim here is to reduce the public debt by somehow tackling the French “addiction to public spending”. Quite how that will work out is anyone’s guess: a problem of course which affects many countries today.
As with any new government during the honeymoon period, promises which bring benefit to the country abound but it will take time to see if they all come to fruition. Having said that however, France remains a country which cares for its people and the changes we see here are largely beneficial to everyone.