Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The FT has an article this morning from "the joint founders of Cercle d'outre-Manche, the French London-based think-tank", i.e. some French France-bashers.

It fits with that same narrative...

What France can learn from its nemesis

In three months' time, France will face a crossroads. As voters choose their next president, they should demand that candidates move from platitudes to an adult debate about putting France back on a sustainable economic growth path that will create jobs and wealth.

As usual, the (false) point is made that France is not growing, or not creating jobs, and is not on a sustainable path.

This debate can be informed by looking at France's nemesis across the Channel. With 2.5m fewer inhabitants than France, the UK generates €76bn ($98bn) more annual gross domestic product. This is equal to €2,400 more per head. Twenty five years ago, the UK's GDP per head was 75 per cent that of France. Why is it relevant for France to benchmark itself against Britain?

So the UK has caught up with France, on one measure. Good for them, but how does that imply that what France did and is doing is flawed?

Apart from similar populations and GDPs, both have the same percentage of GDP coming from industry (Britain 26 per cent; France 25 per cent) and service (74 per cent; 72 per cent). Both have a 1,000-year history of centralised nation states, were once colonial powers and are now nuclear ones and, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, punch above their weight internationally. Both have an inclusive social model with free access to education and health to all.

Purely comparable social models, of course. Are your kids in a private (or a French) school in London, or in a public-sector one?

Each has its favourite bogeyman. For Britain it is Europe, because it imposes too many restrictions and is inward-looking. For France, the "market" (aka, ultra-liberal Anglo-Saxon capitalism) is evil because it destroys protections and is too open.

I won't comment on the (imaginary) reasons why Europe is feared in the UK, but I'll note that the authors conflate "markets" with "ultra-liberal Anglo-Saxon capitalism" after having explained that the UK has an "inclusive" social model.

How did Britain go from being the sick man of Europe to a high growth, high employment country? Four million more people work in Britain than in France and they work longer.

As noted here in French (comment 10), here are the numbers of hourse worked, per worker, on average:

France: 37,4
Eurozone: 37,3
Sweden: 36,3
Denmark: 35,9
Germany: 35,8
UK: 35,6
Netherlands: 32,0

Simply because there are lots more part time jobs in the UK. More people work, but they work less (and, also, are much less productive)

Margaret Thatcher's government broke down many rigidities and reintroduced market practices in the economy. With Tony Blair at the helm and Gordon Brown at the purse, market fluidity has been introduced in almost all aspects of the economy. Where it has not - for example, in the National Health Service - public spending has failed to make a difference. Benchmarking, reforms and service delivery have become the mantra of public policy.

Public spending is bad, bad, bad. Too bad that this is precisely what Blair and Brown have done, as the graphs posted above on government spending and number of government jobs show...

But no, anything that works is due to markets, and market rhetoric, not Keynesian spending...

[skipping some bits about how UK politicians and economists are better than their French counterparts]

The minimum wage has risen 40 per cent since its introduction and is now at roughly the same level as in France.

The big difference, however, is that 1.3m Britons are paid the minimum wage compared with 2.9m in France, because it is set by economic partners at an economically sustainable level in the UK and by politicians at a politically determined level in France.

So the "same level" (in economies with similar structures, similar GDP and similar sizes) is "economically sustainable" in the UK but "politically determined" in France. Sigh, you can never win with these people

Britain's acceptance of the world as it is means seeing globalisation as an opportunity . Britain embraces competition which entails benchmarking, a focus on areas of comparative advantage and constant experimentation and change to deliver jobs, growth and wealth. Employment creates growth more than growth creates jobs, so hiring people has been made easier. People do not worry about whether they will find a job, but think of which job they will choose.


There must be a recognition that business is the engine of growth and wealth creation. Markets must be made truly efficient with an adequate set of regulations. Britain has shown that work is a better way of creating wealth than leisure.

I cut most of the rest, because it is truly mind numbing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 09:11:10 AM EST

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