Fourth, France is also suffering from a huge export deficit. In 2011, its trade deficit was €73 billion. Compared to neighboring Germany’s surplus of €150 billion, France is in seriously bad shape.
Finally, public expenditure has run out of control. Each year, the French state spends €1 trillion on public services. The French tax burden is 56.3%, which makes it the second highest in the world, after Sweden. Instead of lowering taxes to stimulate the economy, President Hollande is doing exactly the opposite. Last year, he announced that he would raise France’s top income tax rate from 48% to 75% for incomes above €1 million. Last December, France’s Constitutional Court annulled this measure, but in response to Hollande’s plans, many wealthy French have already fled the country.
Hollande’s plans to bash the rich have, however, failed to make him popular with the traditional Socialist electorate. A poll last December showed that only a third of French laborers still back him. After barely nine months in office, Hollande has lost popularity at an even faster rate than his predecessor, Sarkozy; perhaps he, too, will turn out to be among the many French currently on anti-depressants.
Originally published at the Gatestone Institute under the title, “France, The Sick Man of Europe.”
About the Author: Peter Martino is a European affairs columnist for the Gatestone Institute.
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