The recovery in France faced with the threat of a fifth wave of Covid

Audio 04:24

A vial of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.

(illustrative image) © REUTERS / Dado Ruvic

By: Anne Verdaguer Follow

4 min

One year after the announcement of a massive aid plan of 100 billion euros for the French economy, President Emmanuel Macron will speak this Tuesday evening, to talk about the evolution of the health crisis but also economic recovery and pending reforms, 5 months before the presidential election.

The main threat to the French economy today is the prospect of a fifth wave due to Covid-19.

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Emmanuel Macron will speak in a very favorable and even unexpected economic context a few months ago. The recovery plan helped to quickly restart the French economy after the shock of the health crisis. According to the

Coeuré

emergency measures assessment

report

submitted two weeks ago to the government, the 70 billion euros that will be committed by the end of the year have mainly benefited SMEs, more than 9,000 companies have been able to obtain assistance, whether in the form of short-time working or a loan guaranteed by the State. 

For Mathieu Plane, economist at OFCE, the French Observatory of Economic Conjunctures, “

most of the productive fabric has been preserved, the level of bankruptcy is low contrary to all forecasts, and this will undoubtedly be one of the levers for French economic growth estimated this year at 6%; it is one of the strongest in the euro zone, while the year 2020 was an unprecedented shock with a loss of 8% of GDP.

"

Proof therefore that the economy has held up well.

The

France 2030 plan

presented last month adds a stone to this recovery, it aims to support strategic sectors over the next ten years.

The last indicator of this recovery, the level of unemployment, which is today equivalent to that before the health crisis.

And this has another effect: the shortage of manpower in certain sectors, construction and catering in particular, "

which will raise other questions in the long term, which are those of wage dynamics and working conditions.

», Explains Mathieu Plane.

Whatever the cost has therefore had positive results

But what hangs over this end of the five-year term is the fifth wave of Covid. The sanitary pass has been extended until July 31 and if it extends to places that were not concerned until now, this could put a brake on this recovery, which has yet to settle in the region. duration. The best weapon of economic recovery is actually vaccination and the question of the third dose at the end of the year for the most sensitive people. 

The other essential question is that of public and private debts.

The economy has been propped up at all costs, and some are worried about the staggering cost of these expenses, who will reimburse and how?

The same goes for companies, whose solvency will be truly tested when repaying, in particular loans guaranteed by the State (which today represent 140 billion euros).

Another unknown: the purchasing power of the French with the specter of inflation that could settle in the long term.

The government has announced an additional boost with the middle class allowance of 100 euros, but the French could be more reluctant to spend.

It is, however, an essential element for the recovery to settle on the right track. 

Last point, the

pension reform

which, as we remember, caused an outcry from the unions, it was postponed with the Covid crisis and in his last speech, last July, the Head of State conditioned the resumption of discussions to the development of the health crisis. Emmanuel Macron is keen on its implementation, even if it has already been greatly modified compared to the initial ambition. But that will take much longer than the five months which separates it from the presidential election, because the negotiations promise to be very long. And it is also a safe bet that the Head of State will not risk a social blockage of the country at the same time when the economy is rebounding. 

It will also be necessary to examine the contours and the true ambition of this reform: will it be purely budgetary to restore the accounts?

Or will the government maintain the initial ambition which was that of a universal system, this will in any case be one of the important themes of the upcoming presidential campaign, like the reform of unemployment insurance which is expected to come into full effect on December 1.

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  • Economy

  • France

  • Emmanuel Macron

  • Coronavirus

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