A French Perspective

Warning: you may find this raises your blood pressure!

1. Educated and successful French businessmen predominantly see Brexit as a disaster befalling the United Kingdom. Too small to influence geopolitics, too confused to carve out a strong and dynamic economy.

2. They largely adhere to a “Macron view” of a fully-integrated core (single budget, defence force, diplomatic group), embracing France, Germany, Netherlands and the Benelux countries. Outer circles embracing other existing members but not with the same benefits.

3. They react with horror to the Macron admission just as they do the actions of the Gilets Jaunes that if the French population was given a “Yes/No” referendum on EU membership now, they’d probably vote to leave.

4. The decades old culture of entitlement has created a customer service level in restaurants, bars and shops that is in the bottom quartile of G20 countries. Those exceptions are powerful reminders that endeavour and kindness are not “prisoners” of bureaucracy.

5. Commercial and lifestyle imperatives are discernibly relaxing Sunday closing hours.

6. The ability to buy and eat highly affordable, diverse and wonderful food and wine with the possible exception of Italy remains unrivalled in the Western world.

7. Thriving small and mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurs offer France the greatest hope for future prosperity so long as the State will get out of their way (taxes, labour regulation, incentives).

8. France would benefit from a more confident global marketing initiative to sustain its’ position as the top global tourism destination (think the “Great Britain” campaign). One that vividly told amazing stories of local culture, success and experiences alongside regional diversity.

9. France doesn’t lack amazing minds and hard workers, what it does lack is an environment, which truly celebrates entrepreneurialism and the creation of opportunities. Specifically, exemplars and organisations that are feted for distributing wealth, not just hoarding wealth.

10. You learn more about the real France today by what you see, not what you hear or you read. It is a beguiling country, immersed in a complex battle around the creation and distribution of wealth and accountability (individual vs State). The evolution of societal norms, its’ geopolitical relevance and the beliefs that underpin its’ past success and a brighter future.

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