Sunday, 25 February 2007

Presidentielle 2007 - Brits for France

The Five Propositions - Les Cinq Propositions

You may have heard about Segolene Royal’s 100 propositions, the fruit of a process of consulting the people who, of course, were quick to ask her for what they wanted. Even Christiane, a life long socialist, is shocked by some of the policy ideas, such as the “Sécurité Sociale Professionnelle” under which, if you were made redundant, you would have the right to 90% of your salary until you find another job. (One could ask “why would you bother”?) When you do find another job, you would have the right to the same salary and other accumulated rights such as pensions. This idea was originally proposed by the CGT union and has been taken seriously and adopted in different forms by the leading candidates of the left, centre and right.

I have been thinking that when Sego consulted the people, British expats, were not represented. This may well be because they can’t speak French, nor can they vote, but nevertheless, in the interests of social cohesion (la Lutte Contre l’Exclusion), Égalité and in the spirit of La Solidarité Européen, we should have been asked for our views. I have decided that the only way to redress this situation is to form a political pressure group and contribute to the debate.
It would take too long to prepare 100 propositions and, like Segolene’s, nobody would read them anyway, so I will restrict myself to the local Brits’ “five most wanted” and then use my influence to get them heard by the people that matter. Since my last communication from the Chateau des Anglais, I have also decided to adopt a more modern style and suppress my natural authoritarian instincts as Lord of Autoire and Bretenoux. In this way I hope to get more support from the common people.

Proposition 1
France has a problem of economic growth, which at 2% is the lowest in the EU apart from Portugal. If foreign businesses do not find France an attractive place to invest in, this is certainly not true of Europeans in general and Brits in particular. So:- “All capital imported, by expatriates now resident in France, and spent in France, will attract a government grant of 90% of the sum imported and spent”. The grant will be paid annually through the tax system and should be very easy to administer. In this way foreign money will be encouraged into France which will help to re-launch the economy and finance other policies.

Proposition 2
The French wine industry is not doing very well, which is rather surprising because you can only buy French wines here, but it needs a boost and the government should intervene so:-
“All French wines bought for local consumption will attract a subsidy of 75%”. This could have been complex to administer but, fortunately, there is already an existing mechanism, so I propose to introduce a modification to the Carte Vitale. You would present this at your supermarket checkout, where the tills would be equipped to register your purchase with the Sécurité Sociale, which would then reimburse you in the normal way, directly into your bank account. If you were worried that you might suddenly have a lot of visitors, or go through a stressful time thereby causing your consumption of wine to increase, the insurance companies could offer an “Assurance Vinicole” which would reimburse the 25% not paid by the Sécu. This policy should be a real vote winner, popular with both locals and expats.

Proposition 3
To help solve the problem of unemployment, and also to encourage more French youngsters (who may find the prospect of the administration of a business in the French system somewhat daunting) to aspire to become artisans I propose:-
“Work done, on an expatriate’s principal residence by local registered artisans will attract a 100% subsidy”. This will be paid directly to the artisan, via the existing system used to collect social charges. In this way artisans will be paid soon after they prepare their invoices and expats will be saved the trouble of checking invoices months later in a foreign language. This policy is designed to attract more foreign money into France, again helping economic growth. I believe a secret unofficial pilot version of this scheme is already in operation here, since sometimes we never get bills for work done.

Proposition 4
“After two years residency in France, expats would have the right to buy their favourite imported foreign delicacies (such as HP Sauce, Branston Pickle, Hobnobs, Marmite and 450mm wide tinfoil) at a VAT rate of zero”. To make this policy more palatable to locals it would be conditional on expats a) being retired and therefore not taking jobs from French people and b) on a reciprocal agreement being set up with other EU countries on a nation by nation basis. I know that there are many French people living in London who miss their Ricoré, paté de tête, rillettes and fritons very much, so they would be sure to vote for presidential candidates who adopted this proposition.

Proposition 5
And finally a policy, which will not be generally popular, but could be sold as being; good for the environment, good for the health of the nation, as well as making a start on reducing the hole in the finances of the Sécurité Sociale.
“A tax will be introduced on all carrier bags used in pharmacies”.

I believe that this contribution to the presidential campaign is built on the solid foundations of the French Model of Social Democracy, a tradition with its roots in the revolution of 1789. But it is also looking to the future, since it addresses the needs of both France and its growing expat community. When these propositions are adopted, they will not only have far reaching effects on growth and employment in France, but will also promote Solidarité and Fraternité between our communities.


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