France: the sick man of Europe?
World Finance speaks to Gaspard Koenig, President of the think-tank GenerationLibre, to ask whether France deserves its economic reputation as the 'sick man of Europe'
In regards to its economy, France has been called the ‘sick man of Europe’. But does it deserve such a reputation when compared to economies such as Italy and Greece? World Finance speaks to Gaspard Koenig, President of the think-tank GenerationLibre, to hear his views.
World Finance: France is known as the ‘sick man of Europe’. But is this fair, considering the state of economies such as Italy and Greece?
Gaspard Koenig: It’s a situation many countries went through. The UK was branded the sick man of Europe in the 70s, and Germany in the 2000s.
France is the man that is the most problematic to Europe. Greece represents one percent of European GDP, so we can still come together and help Greece out. The problem is that France’s economy is structurally embedded in the European system, and in a way I think a model for many Mediterranean countries.
The day when France starts reforming itself, I think the rest will follow.
World Finance: But with inflation down to just 0.4 percent – way below the European Central Bank’s target – and France not likely to meet its EU deficit target until 2017, many are blaming French president Francois Hollande’s administration.
Gaspard Koenig: Structurally, Francois Hollande has only pursued the economic policies of his predecessor. There is very little difference between Francois Holland and Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy’s public investment was up to €2.3bn a year, and Francois Holland’s is €2.2bn.
They cannot think in terms of major structural reforms. They haven’t for decades.
World Finance: But still as the world’s fifth-largest economy and Europe’s second, France – despite its ailments – is still a force to be reckoned with. And with a new economy minister in place, the world is watching to see if reform is genuinely on the cards.