ECONOMY Main articles: Economy of France and Energy in France Further information: List of French companies and Economic history of France The first completed Airbus A380 at the “A380 Reveal” event in Toulouse on 18 January 2005. Airbus is a symbol of the globalisation of the French and European economy. A member of the G8 group of leading industrialised countries, it is ranked as the fifth largest economy by nominal GDP. France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc (₣) in early 2002. France's economy combines extensive private enterprise (nearly 2.5 million companies registered) with substantial (though declining) government intervention (see dirigisme). The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunications firms. It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s. The government is slowly selling off holdings in France Télécom, Air France, as well as the insurance, banking, and defence industries.
France has an important aerospaceindustry led by the European consortiumAirbus, and has its ownnationalspaceport, the CentreSpatialGuyanais. France relies heavily on nuclearpower ( Golfechreactor ). According to the WTO, in 2009 France was the world's sixth- largest exporter and the fifth-largestimporter of manufacturedgoods. In 2008, France was the third-largestrecipient of foreign direct investmentamong OECD countries at $117.9 billion, ranking behind Luxembourg (where foreign direct investment was essentially monetary transfers to bankslocated in thatcountry) and the United States ($316.1 billion), butabove the United Kingdom ($96.9 billion), Germany ($24.9 billion), or Japan ($24.4 billion). In the sameyear, French companies invested $220 billion outside of France, ranking France as the secondmost important outward direct investor in the OECD, behind the United States ($311.8 billion), and ahead of the United Kingdom ($111.4 billion), Japan ($128 billion) and Germany ($156.5 billion).
France is the smallestemitter of carbondioxideamong the sevenmostindustrialized countries in the world, due to its heavy investment in nuclearpower. As a result of largeinvestments in nucleartechnology, most of the electricity produced in the country is generated by 59 nuclearpowerplants (78% in 2006, up fromonly 8% in 1973, 24% in 1980, and 75% in 1990). In thiscontext, renewableenergies (see the power cooperative Enercoop) are havingdifficultiestaking off the ground.Largetracts of fertile land, the application of moderntechnology, and EU subsidieshavecombined to make France the leading agriculturalproducer and exporter in Europe. Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as an internationallyrecognizedfoodstuff and wineindustry are primary French agriculturalexports. EU agriculturesubsidies to France havedecreasedfor the last years, butstillamounted to $8 billion in 2007. Since the end of the Second World War the government madeefforts to integrate more and more with Germany, botheconomically and politically. Today the two countries formwhat is oftenreferred to as the “core” countries in favour of greaterintegration of the European Union.
LABOURMARKET La Défense, Paris is the heart of the French economy. The French GDP per capita is similar the GDP per capita of other comparable European countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom,. GDP per capita is determined by (i) productivity per hourworked, which in France is the highest of the G8 countries in 2005, according to the OECD, (ii) the number of hoursworked, which is one the lowest of developed countries, and (iii) the employment rate. France has one of the lowest 15–64 yearsemploymentrates of the OECD countries: in 2004, only 68.8% of the French populationaged 15–64 yearswere in employment, compared to 80.0% in Japan, 78.9% in the UK, 77.2% in the US, and 71.0% in Germany.
This gap is due to the very low employmentrates at bothageextremes: the employment rate of people aged 55–64 was 38,3% in 2007, compared to 46,6% in the EU15; for the 15–24 yearsold, the employment rate was 31,5% in 2007, compared to 37,2% in EU25. These low employmentrates are explained by the high minimum wageswhichprevent low productivityworkers – such as young people – fromeasilyentering the labour market, ineffectiveuniversitycurriculathatfail to preparestudentsadequatelyfor the labour market, and, concerning the olderworkers, restrictivelegislation on work and incentivesfor premature retirement. The unemployment rate has recentlydecreasedfrom 9.0% in 2006 to 7.2% in 2008 butremainsone of the highest in Europe.In June 2009, the unemployment rate for France was9.4%.Shorterworkinghours and the reluctance to reform the labour market are mentioned as weakspots of the French economy in the view of the right, when the leftmentions the lack of government policiesfostering social justice.
Manyliberaleconomists, including French economists[who?]havestressedrepeatedly over the yearsthat the mainissue of the French economy is an issue of structuralreforms, in order to increase the size of the workingpopulation in the overallpopulation, reduce the taxes' level and the administrativeburden. Keynesianeconomistshavedifferentanswers to the unemploymentissue, and theirtheories led to the 35-hour workweeklaw in the early 2000s, whichturned out to befailure in reducingunemployment. Afterwards, between 2004 and 2008, the Government made some supply-orientedreforms to combat unemploymentbutmet with fierceresistance, especially with the contrat nouvelle embauche and the contrat première embauchewhichbothwereeventuallyrepealed. The current Government is experiencing the Revenu de solidaritéactive.
GOVERNMENT Logo of the French Republic The French Republic is a unitarysemi-presidentialrepublic with strong democratictraditions. The constitution of the Fifth Republic wasapproved by referendum on 28 September 1958. It greatlystrengthened the authority of the executive in relation to parliament. The executive branchitself has twoleaders: the President of the Republic, currentlyNicolas Sarkozy, who is head of state and is electeddirectly by universaladultsuffragefor a 5-year term (formerly 7 years), and the Government, led by the president-appointedPrime Minister, currentlyFrançois Fillon.
The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and a Senate. The National Assemblydeputiesrepresentlocalconstituencies and are directlyelectedfor 5-year terms. The Assembly has the power to dismiss the cabinet, and thus the majority in the Assemblydetermines the choice of government. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms (originally 9-year terms), and onehalf of the seats are submitted to electionevery 3 yearsstarting in September 2008. The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreementbetween the twochambers, the National Assembly has the finalsay, exceptforconstitutionallaws and loisorganiques (lawsthat are directlyprovidedfor by the constitution) in some cases. The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.Frenchpolitics are characterised by twopoliticallyopposedgroupings: oneleft-wing, centredaround the French Socialist Party, and the other right-wing, centredpreviouslyaround the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) and now its successor the Unionfor a PopularMovement (UMP). The executive branch is currentlycomposedmostly of the UMP.
MONEY France issued the single European currency, the euro, in 2002, together with 16 other EU member states it forms the Eurozone. Hereshown a French side of euro coin. Serena Scarlata 3.B.P