I have been talking to fellow French ex-pats in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltics, all part of the new constituency for which I am running as a member of the French Parliament. There is one common feeling: career politicians based in Paris are overly divided by political lines that are no longer relevant.
The recent approach of the new French President to financial services illustrates this. Financial services should have played a big part of the French economy. After all, the French education system is second to none when it comes to its elite schools producing excellent engineers who can quickly master the complexities of international finance. Yet France is behind the UK in terms of financial services.
Many of the financial services companies which are run by the French in London generate about 10 to 20 jobs. This provides the British treasury with corporate tax, income tax, and National Insurance Contributions. And then there are all the jobs that come with having a huge French community in the UK such as restaurants, wine and cheese merchants, and of course schools and health services. Why are the French so keen on losing this money? It is madness for French politicians to treat the French people in financial services as the “enemy”.
The new 75% income tax rate proposed by the Socialist Party will also have a negative effect on the French workforce. It sends a message against making higher gains, which discourages those who might aspire to work harder to achieve those gains.
If this new law also affects dividends, then for many French entrepreneurs this will kill the result of their hard work and the benefit of the risks they took. Whatever the end result, it will push the French in financial services out of France even more.
What a waste when we know that at the same time the British have realised that high taxation reduces the gains made by the state. This has led the British government, not without some political courage, to lower the income tax rate from the higher 50% levels put in place by Labour.
The election of an independent French député for Northern Europe offers a chance for our community abroad to bring the message home: financial services are good and can create jobs and wealth for France.
It also gives a chance to have local representation for matters that affect all the French, regardless of their social class or wealth. The French are tired of old political lines however it is hard for them yet to appreciate the full strength of this new position.
If the French vote for a voice that would represent them without political bias, then the possibilities are endless. For example, I believe this new approach would allow the French to ask Boris Johnson to contribute to the creation of the missing French schools in London, since he is quite rightly keen to bring French financial talent to the City of London.
It would also perhaps give us a chance to bring French politicians to visit countries like England and Sweden and learn new ideas to solve old problems. The French have to quickly decide how to vote amongst 20 candidates! Let us hope they will gauge the importance of this new election in time and by the 3 June.