Breakingviews

Burkinis oust economics in French identity tussle

August 26, 2016

A ferocious debate over bans on full-body swimwear sounds like pre-election posturing, but is more than that. France is less and less able to hang its identity on a unique economic and social model. As a result, the battleground is shifting to its deep-seated secular tradition.

Theresa May may have saved EDF from itself

July 29, 2016

The state-owned French utility’s 12 bln pound investment in nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point could unravel after the UK’s new prime minister initiated a surprise review of the high-risk, high-cost project. Pulling the plug would do UK taxpayers and EDF shareholders a big favour.

Attack in Nice keeps border issue front and centre

July 15, 2016

Over 80 tragic deaths on Bastille Day at the hands of a truck driver will play into fears about frontier security. The killer's French-Tunisian dual nationality won't deflect that much. With Brexit negotiations and national elections to come, free movement is under threat.

Danone investors get creamed by WhiteWave deal

July 7, 2016

The French group is paying a too-full $12.5 bln for U.S. dairy group WhiteWave. Danone can get away with this because expanding away from Europe looks attractive, and debt comes cheap. Skim off the froth, and it’s an expensive way of buying growth.

Brexit is reopening euro zone sovereign wounds

June 14, 2016

France’s bond yields are rising while Germany’s are falling. It’s a warning markets may doubt the integrity of the euro zone if a UK exit triggers copycat referendums. The ECB has neither the power nor the mandate to fight the kind of extreme outcomes that could ensue.

Dixon: Fiscal union has no place in EU Brexit plan

June 7, 2016

European politicians’ knee-jerk reaction if Britain votes to quit the European Union will be to integrate further. This would be foolish, provoking a populist backlash. A better response would be to loosen fiscal policy while embarking on bolder economic and market reforms.

“Because it’s France” no basis for EU budget rules

June 1, 2016

Jean-Claude Juncker used that to explain why France wins more fiscal leeway. This might be worrying coming from the head of the European Commission, which enforces budget discipline, if it weren’t already plain. Blindly applying rules is foolish, as is regular failure to do so.

Strikes upset France’s reform calculus

May 24, 2016

Labour law changes forced through by the Socialist government are sparking strikes in refineries, ports, and railways. The benefits of the measures were watered down when the reforms were diluted. Protracted social unrest could deter investment and push up the costs.

Marchionne’s job upgrade bodes ill for Fiat

May 3, 2016

The storied boss of Fiat Chrysler has taken over as chief executive of spun-out Ferrari, too. Leading the iconic luxury carmaker is surely the more alluring of the two jobs. Yet challenged Fiat Chrysler arguably needs Sergio Marchionne’s full attention more than ever.

Wanted: candidates for Europe’s worst CEO job

April 6, 2016

Air France-KLM’s boss Alexandre de Juniac has vacated an unenviable managerial position. Europe’s weakest legacy carrier is hobbled by high costs, mighty unions and a wayward state shareholder. His successor will need fluent French, modest pay expectations, and little ambition.