• France edition
 
Belgium: blame France for Depardieu move
The mayor of Estampuis, Belgium, holds a picture of Gérard Depardieu posing with council members. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Belgium: blame France for Depardieu move

Published: 17 Dec 2012 16:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Dec 2012 16:54 GMT+01:00

Belgium's foreign minister said Monday that France was solely to blame after its top actor Gérard Depardieu threatened to give up his passport following a move to seek tax exile in the neighbouring country.

Didier Reynders said his country must not be made a "scapegoat" for Depardieu's move, which the French prime minister suggested was an unpatriotic act.

"There have been no measures taken by Belgium to attract any French national," he said on RTL radio. "There has been an evolution in the French tax system which may have had consequences."

"One must look at things for which citizens are leaving their own country, even if these are tax reasons," he added.

Reynders earlier said many Belgian sports celebrities had sought tax exile in Monaco and that Belgian authorities had accepted that. He also noted that many Belgians shopped in France due to lower value added tax.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault – who called Depardieu "pathetic" for seeking tax exile in Belgium – the 63-year-old star said he had been treated unfairly after paying millions of euros in taxes.

Depardieu has joined some of France's wealthiest business figures in Belgium following moves by President François Hollande's Socialist government to tax annual incomes above one million euros ($1.3 million) at 75 percent.

Unlike France, Belgium does not impose a wealth tax and has not had one since 1830. Its income and inheritance taxes are also lower.

In his letter, Depardieu, who has extensive business interests including wine estates and three Paris restaurants, accused the Socialists of driving France's most talented figures out of the country.

He said that over 45 years of working and running businesses in France he had paid 145 million euros into state coffers.

Ayrault's attack came after it emerged that Depardieu had taken up residence in Nechin, a tiny village just over the border in Belgium, which is a favoured spot for wealthy French nationals avoiding tax.

"I find it quite pathetic," Ayrault had said. "Everyone loves him as an artist, but paying your taxes is an act of solidarity and patriotism."

The affair was seized on by the right-wing UMP party of Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, whose leader Jean-Francois Copé said the president – who famously said he did not "like the rich" – was destroying the country.

"What I regret above all is how the Socialist government is running the country into the ground," Copé said on Monday, denouncing the "tax bludgeoning which is hitting all French citizens."

"He is in the process of taking our country backwards."

France's richest man Bernard Arnault came under fire in September when it emerged that he had applied for Belgian citizenship. Arnault, the boss of luxury conglomerate LVMH, denied he was seeking to become a tax exile, saying he wanted Belgian nationality "for personal reasons".

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

2012-12-18 23:33:13 by Eric
Obama is also destroying America as fast as he can as well. I hope the French can save what is left of France after Hollande. Obama has 4 more years to finish what the civil war, WWI, WWII couldn't do, destroy America.
Today's headlines
Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

Eurostar: Major train delays after two incidents
Multiple incident snarl Eurostar traffic during Easter rush. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Eurostar: Major train delays after two incidents

Hundreds of travelers on Eurostar trains between Paris and London saw hours of delays and cancellations on Thursday night due to back-to-back technical and fatal incidents. Service was supposed to be back to normal on Friday. READ () »

Police finish DNA sweep in hunt for school rapist
Police have finished an unprecedented DNA collection in the hunt for a rapist. Photo: Xavier Leoty/AFP

Police finish DNA sweep in hunt for school rapist

All 527 male students and staff at a private school in France have turned over their DNA as part of an unprecedented hunt for whoever raped a girl in a campus bathroom. One student who'd refused relented under prosecutors' pressure. READ () »

‘France needs to change its response to crime’
France prison's have hit a new record for overcrowding. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

‘France needs to change its response to crime’

This month France had more prisoners behind bars than ever before in its history, according to statistics unveiled on Thursday. An expert on the country's penal system told The Local that Sarkozy-era sentencing laws are largely to blame. READ () »

Burgundy 'will be ruined by wind farms'
Will Burgundy's worldwide reputation suffer because of windfarms? Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Burgundy 'will be ruined by wind farms'

The famous Burgundy region of France is synonymous with its vineyards but its image will soon be ruined, campaigners say, by the planned construction of new wind turbines. They say their chances of gaining UNESCO world heritage status are threatened. READ () »

VIDEO: Inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Here is a video look inside Paris's first-ever hotel just for cats. Photo: Lisa Winderberg/Flickr

VIDEO: Inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats

It was only a matter of time before the world’s most visited city extended its luxury lodging options to pets as well. Here's a look inside Paris’s first ever hotel just for cats, which naturally comes complete with a "gourmet" food menu and a games room. READ () »

French government's austerity denial 'a joke'
Some €50 billion cuts and freezes in benefits are not austerity, the French government says. That's a joke, say analysts. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

French government's austerity denial 'a joke'

After announcing a raft of spending cuts and benefits freezes this week the French government was at pains to stress that the country was not undergoing “austerity” as it faces a rebellion among its ranks. Analysts dismissed ministers' efforts as "a joke". READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se