France Country Report
• Despite a significant decline in popularity since the 2017 election, President Emmanuel Macron’s administration will continue pursuing a firmly pro-business agenda, focusing on lowering taxes and increasing the flexibility of the labour market.
• The Yellow Vest movement – a wide-ranging grassroots protest group that emerged at end-2018 and has since been orchestrating large demonstrations on consecutive Saturdays across France – is starting to lose impetus. Although protests are likely to continue in the one-month outlook, a lack of leaders and clearly defined objectives will eventually hamper the movement’s progress. The associated risks to individuals, property, and travel will decline accordingly.
• Economic activity during the first half of 2019 will be supported by a more relaxed fiscal policy and accommodative monetary conditions. However, a cooling labour market and decelerating external demand will limit growth prospects. A disorderly Brexit, an intensification of the Yellow Vest protests and a stronger-than-projected slowdown in global activity are the main risks to our growth forecast in 2019. We expect GDP growth to slow from 1.5% in 2018 to around 1.1% in 2019.
• A slowing economy and the measures introduced in response to the Yellow Vest protests (which included an increase in tax credits for workers earning the minimum wage, among other measures) will take the fiscal deficit above the EU limit of 3%. The fiscal shortfall is, however, projected to resume its downward trajectory in 2020.
• The risk of Islamist terrorist attacks in France is persistently high. Low-capability, lone-actor attacks involving vehicles, blades, and/or firearms are far more likely to succeed than sophisticated plots, as they require a minimal amount of organisation and little, if any, communication between different parties. Islamist militants will prioritise indiscriminate attacks against congregations of civilians, or targeted assaults on security personnel.
Industrial action in France is frequent and well organised and often hampers business operations. The transport sector is frequently affected, with the most significant delays and cancellations in the one-year outlook likely to occur in the rail and aviation industries, as well as potential road blockades by truck drivers, rail workers, and other protest groups. In response to controversial government reforms, trade unionists could also attempt to target oil refineries and depots with blockades. Transport infrastructure in the capital will be greatly improved by the "New Greater Paris" project, due to be completed by 2030.
There is a high likelihood of attacks by Islamist militants using blades, firearms, or vehicles, as seen in the July 2016 Nice attack. Co-ordinated, marauding attacks such as those in Paris in November 2015 are less likely and would be rapidly neutralised given the greater preparedness of security forces. As 18,000 individuals are suspected of having been radicalised (4,000 of whom are under close surveillance), security forces are overstretched and unable to comprehensively mitigate the heightened threat despite having been granted greater powers and additional funding in 2015. Attacks against Muslim individuals and assets have been steadily increasing and tend to spike following jihadist attacks.
War risks on French soil are minimal given the country’s favourable relations with its neighbours. Despite significant cuts to the defence budget, France is likely to maintain a strong military presence, and capacity to intervene, in its former African colonies. The stated goals of French intervention centre on preventing humanitarian disaster, disrupting terrorist networks, restoring territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and consolidating political processes leading to democratic elections. France will continue to play a prominent role in the fight against global terrorism and is a key player in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The risk of flooding is relatively high; 5 to 7 percent of France's territory is located in flood zones. In November 1999, flooding in areas of Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales departments left some 30 people dead. Strong winter storms, such as Xynthia in February 2010, also occasionally strike the country. This storm brought violent winds and very high tides, which generated unprecedented flooding, leaving some 40 people dead, principally in the Vendée, Charente-Maritime, and des Côtes d'Armor departments. In October 2015, floods in the southeast of the country killed at least 18 people. More recently, in February 2017, the French Meteorological Institute - Météo France - issued red alerts for several departments, including Charente, Charente-Maritime, and Gironde, due to severe wind.
France has a temperate climate with four main climatic regions.
In the west, the climate is oceanic and humid, with mild winters and relatively cool summers.
The climate in Alsace, Lorraine, along the Rhone corridor, and in mountainous regions (Alps, Pyrenees, Central Massif) is semi-continental with harsh winters and hot summers.
In the north (Paris and Central Region), winters are cold and summers hot.
The south of France enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz