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Country Report France September 2017

Country Report France September 2017

  • September 2017
  • ID: 2557251
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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Outlook for 2017-21

  • La République en marche (LRM), the party of the president, Emmanuel Macron, has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament) with its centrist ally, Mouvement démocrate (MoDem).
  • Mr Macron is thus well placed to implement his reform agenda, which includes liberalising the labour market, building a more flexible, Nordic-style social welfare system and re-energising the Franco-German partnership.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects significant legislative progress, despite resistance to reforms from the public and the trade unions. However, long-standing labour market and tax system rigidities will be slow to improve.
  • We forecast comparatively strong growth of 1.7% in 2017-18, easing to an annual average of 1.5% in 2019-21. Private consumption will remain the main driver, and net exports will continue to weigh on the headline figure.
  • The official budget deficit target for 2017 is 2.7% of GDP, compared with 3.4% of GDP in 2016. The new administration will prioritise deficit reduction, but we forecast that the deficit will nonetheless exceed 3% of GDP again this year.
  • We expect EU harmonised consumer price inflation to pick up from 0.3% in 2016 to 1.1% in 2017, and to stabilise at about 1.4% in 2018-21.
  • Export growth will bounce back in 2017 as the euro zone strengthens, but the external environment will continue to present downside risks. A turn towards protectionism in the US and a hard landing in China are causes for concern.


  • The government unveiled its labour market reform bill on August 31st. The bill increases flexibility for employers, enables greater negotiation at the firm (vs industry) level and scales back currently high levels of worker protection.
  • Opposition to the reform has been fragmented. The Confédération générale du travail (CGT), the second-largest union, held protests on September 12th, but the two other major unions-the Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT) and Force Ouvrière (FO)-refused to lend their support.
  • On a visit to central Europe in late August Mr Macron gained initial support for reforming the EU's labour market rules for posted workers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He pointedly omitted visiting Hungary and Poland.
  • Private-sector employment rose by 0.5% quarter on quarter and 1.5% year on year in April-June, according to INSEE (the national statistics office). However, temporary employment continued to grow faster than permanent positions.
  • In the first half of 2017 the growth of retail trade values outstripped that of retail trade volumes, reversing the trend in place since 2010. This suggests that retailers are finding that they can raise prices without choking off demand.

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