MACRON AND FRANCE: BAILING OUT A COUNTRY
MACRON AND FRANCE: BAILING OUT A COUNTRY
Written for JESPIONNE
Emelie Rose Beauvoir
Western European countries have been especially hard hurt by the current public health crisis sweeping across the globe. While my home country of France has not been hit as hard as its neighbors Italy and Spain; the virus has still placed an immense burden on the nation’s healthcare system and economy. The main question that I find myself asking is, “How will the Paris government and Macron in particular economically support the French nation during this crisis?
Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, a former socialist until forming his own centrist-populist movement, has been generally viewed as a progressive leader. During the COVID-19 crisis hopes have been high that Macron will provide economic support and stability to not only large corporations but also to the working class, small-business sector, and other potentially endangered demographics within the French work-force.
Te’re guided still by our long-term ambition, so we’ll do everything we can to preserve the work that’s been deployed so far and make sure everything doesn’t crumble.”
- Paul François Fournier, head of innovation at France’s state-owned bank, Bpifrance.
In order to truly understand the solutions being proposed/enacted by Mr. Macron and the Paris government, we must first understand the problems they are currently facing. During the height of pandemic the French government announced a lockdown/control plan to try and minimize the transmission of the virus. On March 17, a lockdown was announced that suspended all businesses deemed non-essential until May 11, and required that anyone wanting to leave the confines of their home must request a permission slip. Aside from the obvious economic burdens, social inequality especially among working-class, front line workers, quickly set hold. The resulting social unrest quickly placed an ever greater burden on France’s already damaged economy. Other sectors of the French economy have suffered as well. Artists and filmmakers have taken a particularly nasty punch from the pandemic as restrictions have placed massive obstacles for cultural productions including film productions.
When faced with these harsh economic realities, the question that remains is what can the French government do to re-bolster this quickly sinking ship. All eyes have been on President Macron as the French population hopes that his progressive fiscal and social policies will be able to pull the nation back from the brink. I am happy to say that Mr. Macron and his colleagues in Paris have been able to identify and even partially enact some promising solutions that could not only save certain of the French economy, but the economic future of the nation itself.
The solutions to France’s economic woes are complex, however, Mr. Macron seems to have identified and even begun enacting some of them. According to Financial Post authors, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Johnny Cotton, President Macron is offering bailouts for workers involved in the cultural sector. “French president Emmanuel Macron promised guaranteed stipends for out-of-work actors and money for filmmakers whose productions have been canceled, as part of a bailout for an arts industry shut down by the coronavirus.” While actions like these may only help a small sector of the economy, it is important to remember that the French economy as a whole can benefit from aid packages even if they are targeted at specific demographics. Another action President Macron has taken to try and revitalize the faltering French economy has been boosting the amount of Euros placed in the COVID-19 emergency fund.
According to RFI, “The package earmarks one billion euros for emergency aid to more than four million households, including special assistance of 150 euros per family receiving welfare benefits as well of 100 euros per child for the same families and those already on housing benefit.” The increase in funding available to the COVID-19 emergency fund will not only help stabilize the economy but will also give economically marginalized French citizens some desperately needed breathing room. However, as with any solution there is usually an obstacle. The obstacles to Mr. Macron’s plans for revitalizing the French economy will almost certainly be both domestic and foreign. Increased pressure from both inside the French nation and from other nations will almost certainly present unique challenges to the French President’s plans to bail out his suffering nation.
3. Princess O’Rourke (1943)
Directed and written by Norman Kresna in his directorial debut, Princess O’Rourke is a romantic comedy that stars Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings, and Charles Coburn. Olivia de Havilland plays Princess Maria, whose uncle (played by Coburn) wants her to marry and produce heirs for their Ruritania country. However, there aren’t many royals that interest Maria, so her uncle suggests that she fly to San
Francisco to think her options over. Afraid of flying, Maria takes a sleeping pill before her flight, but the members of the plane crew sense her nervousness and secretly give her pills. However, bad weather reroutes the plane to go back to New York, and Maria is left in the care of the pilot, Eddie O’Rourke (played by Cummings). When Maria meets Edward, sparks fly, but questions what her royal lineage could do to their budding romance.
Two days after President Macron extended confinement until 11 May, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government had agreed to boost a 45-billion-euro fund to support the economy through the epidemic to 110 billion euros.
The measures are to be included in a revised budget bill which will have to be approved by parliament. They include eight billion euros for the healthcare system, including four billion to pay for face masks.
Healthcare staff in areas most affected by the Covid-19 epidemic are to receive a bonus of 1,500 euros as well as higher pay than usual for working extra hours. The package earmarks one billion euros for emergency aid to more than four million households, including special assistance of 150 euros per family receiving welfare benefits as well of 100 euros per child for the same families and those already on housing benefit.
Twenty-four billion euros in total for laid-off workers in the private sector, as well as seven billion for small businesses and independent workers, rounded out the measures affecting those out of work because of the lockdown.
The prime minister said the measures were based on a revised economic forecast for 2020 anticipating an 8 percent loss of gross domestic product (GDP), a deficit of 9 percent and debt of 115 percent of GDP.
.“This revised budget bill will also oblige us to revise our macro-economic forecast in a period of high uncertainty,” Philippe said after a cabinet meeting.
“Once the health crisis is under control, we must extend this plan with ambitious measures to ensure a strong and rapid renewal of the economy.”
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The primary domestic obstacles will probably emerge from President Macron’s recent loss of an absolute majority in the French parliament. A number of members of Macron’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) party defected to create a new socially and environmentally driven political movement known as EDS (Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity). The loss of a parliamentarian majority will almost certainly make any actions Mr. Macron more difficult to see through to fruition. International obstacles to Mr. Macron’s economic plans will probably present themselves in the form of opposition from other EU states. President Macron has spoken out about the potential pitfalls is European Union member states do not band together to combat the current crisis and support the economies of the Union’s most vulnerable member states. Opposition from countries such as Germany and the Netherlands may hinder not only Macron’s international plans but also his domestic policies.
What can people like you and I do to support France in its efforts to bolster it’s vulnerable economy? I believe one of the main things we can do is become educated on the issue so that we can begin to have meaningful conversations. A number of French media and news outlets carry reports in English so educating yourself about this current situation is achievable and imperative. I also recommend my readers to contact the State Department and the European Union and encourage them to support Mr. Macron’s efforts to save the French economy during this pandemic. While each of us individually may only be able to make a miniscule impact, it is when we come together as a whole that change can truly be accomplished.
RFI French Media Outlet
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September 1 st, 2020