Frugal Hollande takes train to Brussels summit

French President François Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy jumped on a train to travel from Paris to Brussels for an EU summit on Wednesday, their entourages told AFP.

Frugal Hollande takes train to Brussels summit
Margaux Hermite

The two leaders, fresh from a meeting in Paris to coordinate positions ahead of the summit over the debt crisis, decided to take the high-speed train to cover the 300 kilometres (186 miles) rather than fly.

Under tight security, the pair travelled from Hollande’s office in central Paris to the Gare du Nord station and were due in Brussels later on Wednesday after the approximately 90-minute trip.

The travelling methods of Hollande, who dubbed himself “Mr Normal” during his recent presidential campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy, contrast sharply with his predecessor.

Sarkozy and his team of advisers would use two aircraft to get to Brussels from Paris, an Airbus A330-223 specially equipped for his use and dubbed “Air Sarko One” and a Falcon 7X.

The closely watched summit of the 27 EU leaders was expected to deal with ways of bolstering growth in the eurozone amid fears that debt-wracked Greece may be forced out of the club.

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French ‘more wealthy than Americans and Germans’, new study reveals

A new global wealth report has revealed that while there are far more millionaires in the United States than in France, the French are actually more wealthy than Americans on average.

French 'more wealthy than Americans and Germans', new study reveals
The US and French flags hang outside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington. AFP

Credit Suisse' annual global wealth report revealed that the number of dollar millionaires across the world grew to nearly 47 million last year and they now own close to half the world's wealth.

The United States still leads the world in total number of millionaires. The US added 675,000 new millionaires over the past year, bringing its total to a staggering 18.6 million.

In France the number is far fewer, albeit the number of millionaires in the country has jumped by 93 percent between 2010 and 2019.

France now has just over 2 million millionaires.

The ranking for wealth per adult reveals that Switzerland comes out top ($564,650) followed by Hong Kong ($489, 260) and the United States ($432, 370).

But a different ranking that looks at median wealth per adult tells a different story.

Credit Suisse notes: “The ranking by median wealth per adult favours places with lower levels of wealth inequality and produces a slightly different table. Australia (USD181,360) overtakes Hong Kong SAR (USD 146,890) to gain second place, but remains below Switzerland (USD 227,890).

“New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom retain similar positions in the top ten, but lower-than-average inequality raises Belgium (USD 117,090) to fourth place, Japan (USD 110,410) to sixth, Ireland (USD 104,840) to eighth, and France (USD 101,940) to ninth.”

Well below France comes the United States where the median wealth for adults is $65,900 and Germany ($35 313).

Median wealth is the amount that divides the wealth distribution into two equal groups: half the adults have wealth above the median, and the other half below.

France has lower levels of wealth inequality to the United States but the main reason given for the difference in median wealth between the US and France is the huge levels debt incurred by Americans.

While in Germany there is far lower levels of home ownership compared to France which explains why the median level of wealth is lover across the Rhine river.

Credit Suisse estimates that one percent of the richest Germans own 30 percent of the country's total wealth, compared  to France and Italy where the richest one percent own 22 percent of the country's wealth.