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|Head Of State:||President Jaques Chirac
(RPR; since May 1995)
|Head of Government:||Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
(PS; since June 1997)
|Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry:||Dominique Strauss-Kahn (PS)|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs:||Hubert Vedrine (PS)|
|Minister of Trade:||Jaques Dondoux (PS)|
|Minister of Town and Country Planning and Environment:||Dominique Voynet (Verts)|
|Minister of Justice:||Elisabeth Guigou (PS)|
|Minister of Employment and Solidarity:||Martine Aubry (PS)|
|Minister of Defence:||Alin Richard (PS)|
|Political Director:||Gerard Errera|
Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the President on the suggestion of the Prime Minister
Legislative Branch: Bicameral Parliament, which consists of the Senate (321 seats) and the National Assembly (577 seats)
Political Parties forming the Government: Partie Socialiste (PS); Partie Communiste Francais (PCF); Verts
Rassemblement pour la Rebublique (RPR)
|Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (1998):||(1997) $1.3 trillion|
|GDP per Capita:||$24,544 (US dollars)|
|Economic Growth Rate:||3.2%|
|Current Account Surplus||35.0 US$ billion|
|Foreign Direct Investment||NA|
|Budget Deficit (1997)||2.7% of GDP|
|Government Debt (1997)||NA|
|Foreign Aid as a % of GDP||0.45 (ODA % of GNP)|
|Total export value||3 major exports (1998): passenger cars, spare parts & equipment for vehicles, components for aircraft|
Issues for France
The 35 hour work-week initiative for reducing unemployment which was adopted in 1998 has not reached full implementation as of yet (the policy takes effect on January 1, 2000 for larger businesses). The policy has had little effect on the 21% unemployment rate among youth. Last year, the French government developed a project aimed at providing 350,000 public sector jobs for youth. To date, this project has been successful but is still in its infant state and has only attracted a limited number of company participants. Martine Aubry, the employment and social affairs minister once predicted that the 35 hour work-week would help create more than 1 million jobs. Initial results have been far more modest. Only 24,000 jobs have been created or saved as a result of the program. In its latest report on France, the OECD said that the 35-hour work week offers “considerable risks” and “uncertain dividends”.
Talks have begun on extending the 35 hour work-week policy to the previously exempt 4.5 million public sector workers who enjoy extensive perquisites such as near-total job security, longer holidays, larger pensions and better health coverage. The implementation of this ambitious plan to cut the work hours of public workers by 10% without a reduction in salary will prove to be extremely difficult.
Previously at the EU Summit in Cologne on June 3rd and 4th, the governments signed an “employment and jobs pact” which contains guidelines for curbing unemployment and stimulating job-creation. President Chirac will build upon this effort in Köln to develop more strategies and elicit even greater co-operation on this pressing social and economic problem.
France is attempting to modernize its relations with Africa not only in the political and military sphere, but also in terms of encouraging democratization and strengthening the rule of law. In June of 1998, President Chirac visited four southern African countries. France continues to emphasize good government and well-targeted resources as important tenets to any effective development strategy. In 1998, the French government devoted 180 million francs to its RECAMP project which aims at strengthening African peacekeeping capacities
France's leading position among donor countries is an important instrument for strengthening its ties with other Francophonie member states and augmenting French influence in the developing world, particularly in Africa. In order to counteract US efforts to increase its influence in the region, the French government will continue to assume a principal role in Summit talks on assistance to the poor. These discussions are certain to include the timely issue of debt forgiveness, a subject which France has worked to keep high on the international agenda in past years. As a major creditor nation, France will try to encourage burden sharing by other members of the G8..
France, along with Germany and Italy remains unreceptive to the idea of military engagement. In a speech delivered to the National Assembly on April 27th, Prime Minister Jospin stated that ground intervention meant “risking a Balkan-wide conflagration” and “jeopardizing relations with Russia”, whose assistance is vital for a political settlement to the crisis. Therefore, France will attempt to discourage British calls for the deployment of ground troops and will continue to encourage a multilateral approach to the crisis in Kosovo. It is hoped that a diplomatic breakthrough leading to a ceasefire might be achieved at the G-8 Summit.
Prepared by Suzanne Murphy and Thalia Lidakis, University of Toronto G8 Research Group, June 1999
||This Information System is provided by the University of Toronto Library and the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.|
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