French economy bounces back thanks to ‘swift and effective’ Covid response

The OECD has issued a new report on the French economy, finding that government support during the pandemic has helped the economy rebound quickly, but investment is still need in certain areas.

OECD head Mathias Cormann addresses a press conference about a new OECD economic study about France. It found that the government responded well to the pandemic.
OECD head Mathias Cormann addresses a press conference about a new OECD economic study about France. It found that the government responded well to the pandemic. (Photo by Eric PIERMONT / AFP)

The latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) survey of France has revealed some encouraging conclusions. 

While the economy contracted by 8 percent in 2020, the study predicted GDP growth of 6.8 percent in 2021 and 4.2 percent in 2022.

A graph shows that French economy is predicted to bounce back
A strong mix of government policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the French economy to bounce back. (Source: OECD)

“France’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been swift and effective, enabling it to emerge from the health crisis with jobs and household incomes well protected and its economic capacity largely preserved,” said OECD Secretary-General, Mathias Cormann, at the unveiling of the survey. 

READ ALSO French economy shows strong growth with reopening of tourism and leisure

“A rigorous implementation of the government’s Recovery and Investment Plans will help to turn the rebound into lasting sustained growth, building a greener, more digital and more resilient economy.”

The report warned however that while it was important not to withdraw financial support for households and businesses, it would be worth targeting this spending more efficiently. Money should go to ‘viable’ businesses and sectors to encourage investment, it said. 

Among all the OECD member nations, which are composed of high-income countries described by one economist as a ‘rich men’s club’, France has the highest public spending as a share of GDP.

French public spending as a percentage of GDP is higher in France than in other developed nations. (Source: OECD)

The organisation said that French businesses had been slow in adopting digital technologies and that this was harming productivity. 

It also noted that France needed to invest more in professional training to address labour market shortages and in incentives to encourage transition to a greener economy. 

Member comments

  1. OECD also said French debt is unsustainable, pension age must increase and public expenditure brought down. Amazingly, it actually suggested France should follow the British model.

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‘Affaire Mila’: Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

A French court convicted six people on Tuesday for harassing a teen online over her anti-Islam videos in a case that sparked debate about free speech and the right to insult religions.

'Affaire Mila': Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

The girl, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection due to threats to her life after videos in which she insulted Islam went viral in January 2020 and November the same year.

The court handed sentences ranging from a three-month suspended prison term to four months with an electronic bracelet to the two men and four women, aged 19 to 39.

The six were ordered to pay damages of €3,000 ($3,200) each to Mila.

“Their conviction was necessary,” said Mila’s lawyer Richard Malka, but added that he felt no satisfaction at seeing them sentenced.

READ MORE: What is the ‘Affaire Mila’ and what does it say about France and Islam?

“My only satisfaction would be if Mila were able to lead a normal life… and that is not the case,” Malka said.

In the first viral video posted on Instagram in January 2020, Mila responded to personal abuse from a boy who she says insulted her about her sexuality “in the name of Allah”.

She launched into an expletive-laden rant against Islam along with other explicit comments about Allah deemed highly offensive to practising Muslims.

She published a second video with similar content in November of the same year, after a jihadist killing of French high-school teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown students controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Mila’s lawyer says she received over 100,000 extremely virulent messages in response to the videos, with one person writing that Mila deserved “to have her throat cut”, while others threatened sexual assault.

In July 2021, a French court convicted 11 people for harassment and handed suspended sentences, with some ordered to pay damages of 1,500 euros.

The case has received widespread public attention because it touches on hotly contested issues in France, from cyber harassment to the right to blaspheme, and attitudes to religious minorities.