French Report Tackles Globalization

A former French Foreign Affairs Minister says France must step up its fight against globalization

France should work for a "much more offensive policy of protection, solidarity and regulation" at an EU level in order to better face globalisation, according to a report by former French foreign affairs minister Hubert Vedrine.

It should also have the right to protect key or "strategic" sectors of its economy, Mr Vedrine writes in the 63-page document.

"I see globalisation neither as a chance, nor as blight, simply as a fact to which one has to adapt", the former minister is quoted as saying by Le Figaro.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy in July asked Mr Vedrine to draft a report on how the country should respond to the challenges of globalisation.

The report comes at a time when the European Commission is trying to promote more openness and a positive view of globalisation, as well as less national champions.

But if the principles in the report are followed, it is set to be a blow to the commission's willingness to embrace globalisation.

"We still haven't really worked out how to be political about globalisation – except, in most cases, by opposing it. And that's our problem", EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said at a symposium on globalisation on 3 September.

"Imposing punitive measures raises a cheer for politicians. It may provide some temporary relief. It is often both justified and right. But if it is inhibiting European companies from pursuing rational production strategies (…) it can also be counterproductive", he added.

The French are traditionally hostile to globalisation, due to a number of reasons – an attachment to the protective state, to national identity and a language which they judge threatened by "the anglophone tide" and Americanisation.

There is also a persistent moral disgust for market economy and profit, reads the report.

Recent figures even indicate a certain "globalophobia", says Mr Vedrine, as two different polls this year showed that 74% of French are worried by globalisation and believe it will have a negative effect on salaried employees.

However, the French are not the only ones who view globalisation with some fear.

While 18% of them favour it, only 17 percent of Spanish and Americans and 15 percent of British citizens view the phenomenon positively, according to a poll published by the Financial times last spring.

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