France. Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was completely acquitted in January of the indictment of false bribery charges in 2004 against party colleague Nicolas Sarkozy, who later became president. Three co-defendants in the so-called Clearstream affair were sentenced to prison, essentially conditional, and in one case fined. de Villepin later formed a new party, the Republic Solidaire (Solidarity Republic), which was expected to stand against Sarkozy and the ruling party Union for a People’s Movement (UMP) in the 2012 presidential election.
According to COUNTRYAAH, France has a population of 66.99 million (2019). Sarkozy’s ruling party UMP lost big in the regional elections in March. The Socialist Party in alliance with Communists and environmentalists prevailed in 22 regions and the Left along with nationalists prevailed in Corsica. The UMP won only in Alsace and two of the overseas regions.
On orders from Sarkozy, during the summer, demolitions of about 300 Roma camps in France began. More than a thousand Roma from Bulgaria and Romania were sent back to their home country. The mass rejections triggered protests and the European Commission asked the government to declare. In September, the EU came up with sharply worded criticism of France, after government officials had assured that the measures were not directed at the Roma – something which was then disproved by official documents. France also received stinging criticism for its treatment of the Roma.
The government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 years, and for maximum pensions from 65 to 67, caused repeated one-day strikes and demonstrations during the year.
The protests culminated over a couple of weeks in October when up to three million people attended. Workers at all the country’s oil depots strike with widespread fuel shortages as a result. Air traffic and train traffic were affected. Road traffic was disrupted when truck drivers blocked roads and the teaching of many schools was disrupted when high schoolers also participated in the protests. Many said they understood the need for a pension reform because of large deficits in the system, but protested that the government was pushing it through without dialogue. Dissatisfaction was also expressed over Sarkozy’s policies in general. The president’s popularity figures were at the bottom.
The government nevertheless maintained its line and the bill was adopted by both chambers of Parliament. After the constitutional review of the law, at the request of the opposition, it came into force in November. Afterwards, Sarkozy carried out an expected government reform. Michele Alliot-Marie became new foreign minister and Alain Juppé new defense minister. Prime Minister François Fillon remained in office.
France became the first in Europe to legislate against a comprehensive Muslim veil, burka or niqab, in public place. The bill was part of an ongoing intensive debate on French identity and French values. Critics felt that the ban violated religious freedom and stigmatized an already vulnerable group. However, the proposal was voted on by a large majority in both chambers of Parliament, and in October the Constitutional Court had approved it.
Jérôme Kerviel, former stock trader at the big bank Société Générale, was sentenced in October to three years in prison for computer intrusion, forgery and infidelity against the principal. Kerviel was also sentenced to compensate the bank for damages caused by wild speculative securities trading. However, the bank made clear that it was not expected to recover the full amount: the losses revealed in 2008 amounted to EUR 4.9 billion.
Paris is France’s absolute largest business and work center. This applies first and foremost to the service activities serving the entire country and an international clientele.
The industry originated in the 1600’s and 1700’s, where it mainly manufactured luxury goods for the court and the nobility. From the mid-1800’s. the industry grew strongly, partly due to the large supply of labor and partly to the large local market and good transport links to the other French market. The food industry, the clothing industry, the metal and machine industries – and eventually the automotive and aircraft manufacturing and chemical industries became the most important industries.
From the 1960’s, Paris’s industry has experienced a sharp decline in employment. Manufacturing in Ile-de-France still employed about 1.5 million in the 1960’s, but in 1999 only 626,000, partly because of the general decline in industrial employment and partly because many factories have been out-competed by provincial companies, while others with support from the state and EU regional funds have moved to the province. However, headquarters and development departments have often remained in Paris. The closure in 1992 by Renaults car factory in Boulogne-Billancourt, which had been the strongest bastion of the labor movement, was perceived as a symbol of the end of the industrial age. The most dynamic parts of the remaining industry are the electronics and pharmaceuticals, which require a highly skilled workforce. The graphic industry is, as in most major cities, also significant.
The service sector has become the completely dominant source of employment and is steadily growing. A significant part of the service activities is primarily aimed at an international clientele; it is so large that Paris can be described as a world city. Thus, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are visited every year by 6-8 million. guests, while Notre Dame Church and Eurodisney each receive approximately 14 million guests (2014). With about 20 million. visitor tourists and business travelers annually, of which approximately half from abroad, the hotel and restaurant industry is significant. Paris is one of the world’s leading congress and trade fairs, and some industries, such as fashion (haute couture), are absolutely leading. OECD, UNESCO and approximately 400 other international organizations are headquartered in Paris, as are several multinational companies, including American, has their European headquarters here.
Much of French goods imports and exports go through corporate headquarters or wholesale companies in Paris. France’s export of services is second to the largest in the United States and comes, for example, from consulting engineers and research institutes in Paris. By contrast, the city’s international finance function is relatively weak.
Another part of the service sector primarily serves the entire population and business of France. Public and private governance is strongly centralized in France, and the capital function is therefore of great importance with, for example, the central administration and the head offices of the energy, transport and communication companies as well as business and labor market organizations. Sorbonne is one of the world’s oldest universities, and Paris has since 1968 had 17 universities and other higher educational institutions which total 1/3of the French students are attached. More than half of the country’s scientists work in Paris. Nationwide areas for which Paris is the center also include wholesale trade, long-distance freight, freight, train and aircraft, major banks and insurance companies, consultants and other business services, broadcasters and the vast majority of France’s magazine and book publishers.