A Week in France / July 28: French policy “inadequate and obsolete”

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski for flickr

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski for flickr

Every Sunday, La Jeune Politique looks back on the events that made the news in the past week, giving you the chance to catch up on the articles you missed and more.

Friday, July 12

France has legalized the sale of medications on the Internet. As of now, only 36 sellers have received express authorization from the Minister of Health, but more are to receive the go-ahead in the future. Online business is, however, experiencing a slow beginning, as many customers still feel the need to go to a pharmacist to buy their drugs.

Tuesday, July 16

A parliamentary report released by the commission assigned to inquire into the French steel industry claims that Europe’s industrial policy is “naïve” and requires protectionist measures. The commission provided 26 proposals to rescue the steel industry in France. Described by Le Figaro as “scathing,” the report calls the current French industrial policy “inadequate and obsolete,” while describing the standard European competition policy as unproductive and based on a “naïve confidence in the virtues of a large global market.”

Wednesday, July 17

At the National Assembly, Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing Cécile Duflot was moved to tears after a UMP deputy questioned a polemic tweet from her partner. Xavier Cantat, Duflot’s husband and an environmental activist, confessed on Twitter that he was glad to boycott the Bastille Day parade.

The parliamentary commission of inquiry looked into Jérôme Cahuzac’s period as France’s budget minister and decided to reconvene Cahuzac. The new call came after Pierre Moscovici, the Minister of Finance, confirmed the validity of a meeting that Cahuzac had not mentioned in his first hearing. More here.

Friday, July 19

In a draft report, the Cour des Comptes denounced the French student insurance group, La Mutuelle des étudiants (LMDE), for inefficiency and “very unsatisfactory” service. The student insurance group received an average satisfaction score of 2.33 out of 5 in tests run by the Court, the lowest score of any student health insurance company. This number is particularly striking given LMDE’s self-produced customer service survey, which claimed an 88% satisfaction rate.

Members of the National Assembly voted on a project to designate Lyon as a metropolis. The project will combine greater Lyon with the city proper as well as a large area of the Rhone region. The resulting merge will grant Lyon a budget of about 3 billion euros to fund an extended housing and social work system. The Senate had already approved the project in June prior to the National Assembly’s vote.

Saturday, July 20

Nearly 250 youth in the town of Trappes skirmished with city police. The attacks were launched in protest of the arrest of a Muslim woman for wearing a niqab, or veil that fully covers the face with a slit for the eyes. The garments were made illegal under former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration in 2011.

Sunday, July 21

Mayor of Cholet Gilles Bourdouleix lost his nerve in the face of a field occupation, which has put his Union des démocrates et indépendents (UDI) party membership in jeopardy. The episode began on Sunday night after a group of gypsy travelers settled on a plot of land in Cholet. When Mayor Bourdouleix arrived on the scene, he quickly got himself into a heated interaction with some of the travelers. Exasperated by the Nazi salutes and the accusations of racism coming from the group, the mayor suddenly blurted out, “Maybe Hitler did not kill enough gypsies.”

Monday, July 22

A French court has sentenced a 19-year-old rioter to six months in prison, making him the first person to be convicted in connection with this week’s civil unrest in Trappes and other western suburbs of Paris.

Tuesday, July 23

In the wake of the “Social Conference” that took place in Paris last month, President François Hollande announced new measures to tackle unemployment in France, including the proposition to fund 100,000 training schemes for young people by 2014. 30,000 of the 100,000 are to be created by the end of 2013, while the remaining 70,000 are to be funded the following year.

The French food giant Danone and the American coffee chain Starbucks announced that they were joining forces to launch a new line of Greek yogurt. Named “Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon”, the new Greek yogurt products will make their first appearance next spring in North American Starbucks locations, which amount to more than 10,000. They are expected to hit supermarkets shelves in 2015, followed by a global expansion.


A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times published an article entitled “The Best Hope for France’s Young? Get Out”, relaying a French controversy triggered by a column published by Libération in 2012. That original column invited young French to leave their country and its “gerontocracy” to find jobs and fresh ideas elsewhere. La Jeune Politique’s Marc Goëtzmann responds here.

The week ahead on La Jeune Politique

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back. Back to a French court, that is, to face charges of aggravated pimping. Cahuzac is too: back to the National Assembly for a second audition. Ditto for Pasqua, who was acquitted of corruption charges in the UN’s Oil for Food campaign. Also, France’s famous Club Med to be bought by Chinese fund, GE to cut 600 jobs in the country, and France banning Mercedes cars for not respecting yet-unapplied norms. And of course, the latest news as it develops.

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