We are all aware of the various endeavours being made by the British Government to improve the UK’s economy: managing the State budget; encouraging the activities of budding entrepreneurs; asking banks to lend more money to businesses; etc. The emphasis is very much on how Britain can pick itself up in competition with other nations, and how the status of the British Pound can be raised. As our media charts the progress of the French presidential elections, however, the British are starting to realise the extent to which the attitudes in France towards the current economic crisis differ to that in Britain.
Augustin Paluel-Marmont (Co-founder of Michel et Augustin) says that it is difficult for small firms in France to make the jump to becoming medium-sized, and that they are frequently bought up by foreign companies. He is less concerned, however, about the strength of the French economy in isolation. Rather, he supports the success of the European Union as a whole, believing that entrepreneurs in Europe should focus on the European market rather than simply that of their own native country.
Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet (Co-founder of Priceminister), also supports the European single currency, emphasising, “My company is very Europe-minded… I think that is a good thing for the French economy.” He adds, “I think the euro is something that is needed. I’m really very disappointed with the English behaviour on that… You can’t build a new world by being selfish. You have to share values, currencies and you have to build things together.”
Henri de Castries (Chairman and Chief Executive of Axa) is optimistic that the Eurozone will ultimately thrive, once its member states have learnt how to pull together into “a more co-ordinated game”. Expressing concern about the French national debt, and the fact “public spending is too high”, he proposes a structural reform in order to keep money “in the hands of those who know how to invest it, rather than having it taken by the state for additional unproductive spending.” It seems he would prefer for the French Government to have a laissez-faire attitude towards its internal market – and for it to instead concentrate its efforts on co-operating with its neighbours in the Eurozone to make Europe succeed as a whole.