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French prepare to stave off attacks from Britain


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From The Times -

French prepare themselves to resist all advances from perfidious Albion

From Charles Bremner in Paris

ANYTHING but the British might be the motto for Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, when he announces today how he will fulfil his pledge to bring down France’s chronic high unemployment without recourse to the dreaded modèle Anglo-Saxon.

L’Albion Perfide has loomed large over France this week as M de Villepin has staked his name on his plan to restore confidence in 100 days, after the rejection of the European constitutional treaty in the referendum on May 29.

President Chirac’s appointed Prime Minister has promised to pull off what employers and foreign experts regard as the impossible: creating jobs but keeping the protective French social model that helps to generate the country’s chronic 10 per cent unemployment.

With characteristic bravado, the poet-Prime Minister has promised to try something new. Above all, he says, this will not be modelled on Britain, whose prosperity is depicted in France as the product of poverty-line wages, social injustice and medieval public services. Instead, M de Villepin wants to copy the Danish model, which has become the Paris fashion this early summer.

This is a system, called “flexicurity”, in which the workers accept very flexible hire-and-fire rules in return for extensive welfare benefits. It also requires a tax rate even higher than that in France. M de Villepin, a diplomat who has never held elected office, has run into a predictable hurdle before he unveils his scheme to Parliament. Trade union leaders told him on Monday that they would call strikes if he even hinted at touching the sacred French labour laws. A poll by Libération yesterday showed that 63 per cent of the French did not believe that M de Villepin could bring down unemployment.

Seen from Paris, Britain appears to be attacking on all fronts. “After the celebrations of the entente cordiale, the time of frank mesentente has returned,” le Figaro said, reflecting the view that, by voting “no”, France and the Netherlands had handed Europe over to Tony Blair and his model.

All France needs now is for London to win the 2012 Olympics when the venue is decided next month, le Figaro said. “If that happens, some will not miss the chance of seeing it as a new consecration of the British model.” After the technical report on the fitness of the candidate venues, France Inter, the equivalent of BBC Radio 4, reported that L’Albion Perfide had not just killed the constitution but was threatening to block the French path again with the Olympics.

Mr Blair was blamed for delivering the coup de grâce to the constitution with his decision to suspend the planned British referendum. This was a snub to a Franco-German plea for mercy, according to the French. France-Soir predicted “open war with the Franco-German couple” under the headline: “London divides to rule.”

Le Monde predicted that Mr Blair would use the British presidency of the EU from July 1 “to shape Europe to his own taste,” meaning the Anglo-Saxon model with its deregulation and labour flexibility. “Opposite a Jacques Chirac and a Gerhard Schröder (the German Chancellor) united in misfortune, Tony Blair is moving on to the attack,” it added.

The Chancellor, facing difficult re-election in September, and the discredited French President are meeting in Paris on Friday to prepare for the EU summit next week. This partly means settling a strategy to contain Britain.

They aim to rally other EU states, including many supporters of les Anglo-Saxons from the east, in order to put pressure on Mr Blair to relinquish the 21-year-old British rebate on its contribution to the EU budget. French diplomats recognise that this serves the usual purpose of uniting the EU against Britain and deflecting the heat over the constitution.

With a domestic political crisis after the referendum, France believes that Mr Blair will nevertheless use the British presidency to walk all over Old Europe. “It is obvious that the European storm is giving Tony Blair an unhoped-for chance to fulfil a dream on the scale of his ambitions: leading a Europe repainted in the colours of Blairism,” les Echos, the business daily, said yesterday.

Another lament to Anglo-Saxon ascendancy came from Alain Juppé, M Chirac’s former Prime Minister. “We have to be lucid enough to recognise that we are in the fog,” he wrote in his weblog. “Our capacity for taking the initiative has been reduced. The Franco-German motor is broken down. The Liberal-Atlanticist vision of Europe has the wind in its sails.”


Labour force 2.87 million

Employment rate 75.1 per cent in 2003

Rate of population growth 0.34 per cent

Unemployment rate for under-25s lowest in Europe

GDP per capita £17,600 in 2004

Nearly 40 per cent of full-time employees fall into top tax bracket of 63 per cent. This funds world’s most generous benefits


Labour force 29.78 million

Employment rate 74.9 per cent

Rate of population growth 0.28 per cent

Overall unemployment rate 4.8 per cent in 2004

GDP per capita £16,230 in 2004

The highest tax bracket in the UK is 40 per cent for those earning more than £36,145

www.timesonline.co.uk . . .

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Britain is not Anglo-Saxon. Indeed the Germanic Anglo-Saxon ethic group makes up the majority of the population, but they only make up 1 of the 4 member states in Anglo-Saxon, the others (Scotland, Wales, North Ireland and also Cornwall) are all Celtic.

It would be like calling the US a white country and ignoring the presence of large African and Native American populations who've been there for as long or longer.

Edited by Talon S.
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