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France scales back economic support for Covid-hit businesses as aid bill hits €240 billion

France is scaling back its economic support to businesses hit by the pandemic, with the country's public accounts minister announcing a more targeted regime of aid.

France scales back economic support for Covid-hit businesses as aid bill hits €240 billion
Public accounts minister Olivier Dussopt. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

The French government has extended €240 billion in financial aid to businesses hammered by the pandemic since March 2020, mainly in the form of state-guaranteed loans, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced Monday.

President Emmanuel Macron vowed to protect French companies and their employees “whatever the cost” after many were forced to close during three nationwide lockdowns since the outbreak began.

“The bill for ‘whatever the cost’ stands at €80 billion in subsidies, and €160 billion in loans,” Le Maire told France Inter radio.

The public accounts minister Olivier Dussopt has warned: “It’s the end of whatever it takes”.

The government wants to “look at what is really being lost, rather than just what is being said”.

He added that not all industries or regions were suffering equally, and that even within some Covid-hit sectors, there were businesses that were thriving.

READ ALSO Home-grown holidaymakers and health passports ‘have saved summer tourism’

“We are ready to help the sectors that really need it,” Dussopt told Radio J ahead of a meeting with leaders from industries still suffering from the pandemic, including tourism, small businesses and culture.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, the French government has run a generous package of economic aid for businesses, including furlough schemes for employees and grants for small businesses and the self-employed.

There have also been extra incentives for businesses to switch to online services such as ‘click and collect’ schemes for independent retailers.

Dussopt said that any future aid “will be a necessarily transitional, very sector-focused approach”.

As an example, he cited the restaurant trade: “In some regions, the number of visitors is the same as before, it is even higher than in July and August 2020, which were months that were not affected.”

Companies must also take responsibility for their own operations and for finding solutions to their problems, he said.

Instead of simply complaining about the difficulty they face hiring, he said, employers “have an interest in making the careers they offer more attractive” – by increasing salaries, for example.

The hospitality sector has reported staff shortages and difficulties in hiring since bars and restaurants reopened, with many former employees having either found wrk elsewhere or deciding to tur their back on an industry of anti-social hours and low pay. 

Economic growth is forecast at six percent this year, with the government hoping for four percent in 2022.

The minister said the government’s deficit peaked at 9.2 percent in 2020 and would come in “below nine percent” for 2021.

That was “despite the cost of the crisis, despite the cost of the recovery plan”, he said, adding “we can aim for a target of around five percent” in 2022, depending on actual growth.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

French schools, renting property and vocabulary: 6 essential articles for life in France

From how to quit your job in France to choosing the best French school for your kids and learning all the vocabulary of France's cost of living crisis - here are six essential articles for life in France.

French schools, renting property and vocabulary: 6 essential articles for life in France

In the last two years, many people across the world have either considered leaving or have left their jobs amid the “Great Resignation” (or La Grande démission, en Français). 

If you have thought about quitting your French job, or perhaps you simply want to understand the procedure for resigning in France, we’ve put together a guide that should answer all of your questions. 

EXPLAINED: What you should know if you want to quit your job in France

Next, the French government is recommending that everyone become familiar with this website, and you’ll really to know how to use it if you will be living in France during the winter of 2022-2023. 

Ecowatt is the government’s ‘energy forecasting’ website. It will provide you with daily updates and give you an idea as to whether the electrical grid is under stress due to energy shortages. The Local put together an article on how to sign up for alerts, which will help you keep track of whether your area is at risk for short, localised power cuts this winter.

‘Ecowatt’: How you should use France’s new energy forecasting website?

Amid potential energy shortages this winter and the cost of living crisis, foreigners living with France have been faced with learning a whole new set of French vocabulary words.

It can be difficult to keep up to date with the French news – even for native-French speakers. To help you follow along and stay informed, The Local has compiled a list of French terms you are likely to hear when the government or media discusses inflation, along with their English translations.

The French words you need to understand France’s cost of living crisis

Parenting in a country you did grow up in comes with unique challenges and joys. One thing anglophone parents tend to wonder about is whether or not they should send their children to international schools (where English might be more widely spoken) or opt for local French schools.

The Local spoke with some anglophone parents, and compared the advantages and disadvantages of the various options in order to help you make the best decision for your family. 

What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Many foreigners living in France prefer renting to buying. When looking for that perfect home or apartment, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost – renting in France depends largely on where you live. Renting in a rural or suburban environment will differ greatly from renting in a big city. Nevertheless – renters across France are faced with the same question: furnished or unfurnished? 

The two options differ in terms of price, convenience, and sometimes availability. You can read The Local’s guide to renting property in France.

Renting property in France: Should I go for furnished or unfurnished?

The 2024 Olympic Games are already on the horizon, even though they might seem far away. The city of Paris and its surrounding suburbs have already begun extensive preparations to host athletes, their families, and the thousands of fans who will come to enjoy the Games.

If you live in France and you are considering attending the games, The Local has put together what you need to know in order to secure your tickets.

How to get tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics

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