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France's "Mille-Feuille" Regulations



(p. A1) France has long been known for its open hostility to corporations and its suspicion of personal wealth. Taxes were high, regulations were baffling and "It's not possible" was the default answer to any question -- if a company could even find the right person to ask.

Now, the country is in the midst of a sweeping attempt at national rebranding. Labor laws are being changed to make hiring and firing easier. New legislation has slashed a "wealth tax" that was said to drive millionaires out of the country.


. . .


(p. A5) "When you grow up in France, none of the heroes you learn about are entrepreneurs," said Brigitte Granville, a professor of economics at Queen Mary University of London, who was raised in France. "When someone gets rich in France, people immediately ask, 'What did he do to make this money? He must be a nasty person.'"


. . .


Now, a new crop of French leaders, most notably the free market-supporting president, Emmanuel Macron, are vigorously trying to shed this anticapitalist reputation. During his campaign, he visited London, home to as many as 400,000 French expatriates, urging them to return to France and "innovate."


. . .


France's economic makeover has inspired some derision outside of the country, too. It has the faint smell of desperation to people like Nicolas Mackel, the chief executive of Luxembourg for Finance, a public-private partnership that promotes the country as a business hub.


. . .


"You'll accuse me of bashing the French," he said over tea recently, "but earlier this year, they announced that they would have regulators who speak English. We didn't need to do that because our regulators already speak English and always have."

For France, English-speaking government officials would be little more than a promising start. The country has so many bewildering layers of regulations that its system is known, unaffectionately, as mille-feuille, a reference to a densely layered pastry.



For the full story, see:

DAVID SEGAL. "Paris Tries On A Fresh Look: Less Red Tape." The New York Times (Mon., DEC. 11, 2017): A1 & A5.

(Note: ellipses added.)


(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 10, 2017, and has the title "As Brexit Looms, Paris Tries a Business Makeover.")






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