From the steam train to the Airbus, cinema or radioactivity, France has been the origin of multiple industrial achievements. L’Elysee has put together a video in order to underline that “France is back on its feet and is reinventing itself,” as the final words of the film state. The clip has however been widely mocked by French pundits and commentators as “out-of-date” and “pedantic”.
The video is part of a plan: 34 state-aided projects, from futuristic fast trains to electric-powered satellites, to create 475,000 jobs and 45 billion euros in revenues in the next ten years. This would, according to Paris, make up for some of the 750,000 jobs lost by French industry over the past decade.
The so-called “industrial renaissance” is also a communication strategy to lift the government’s public image. François Hollande has become the most unpopular president in decades -Left-leaning newspaper Libération called his first communication strategy “mediocre, even counter-productive”-. His socialist government was recently forced to cut its 2014 growth forecast, unemployment has hit records (more than 3 million jobless) and both investment and consumption are quite damaged.
So the government wants to take the reins of the economy without complex. However, the private sector would have initiated and will run 80 per cent of those 34 projects, official sources point out.
“The state is now assuming its role after 20 years of being ashamed to do so (…) The state’s role is not to take the place of private initiatives, but it’s job is to define a framework, to accompany, to stimulate,” Mr. Hollande’s key Elysée adviser, Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde.
A reinvention that won’t follow other countries’ recipes. Mr Hollande has insisted that France’s industrial policy is “neither liberal nor ‘dirigiste’ nor German nor Anglo-Saxon; it is French and pragmatic.”