Thursday, 20 September 2012
François Hollande, rested from his summer holiday, this week outlined his plan to France’s Court of Audit of how the tax system will operate under a socialist government. His intention is to raise €20 billion in new taxes - which include a 75% tax on millionaires – and has assured the French public this will not be reneged on.
This, coupled with his €30bn savings plan, sees Hollande aim to reduce the deficit to 3% over the next two years. The French public will keep a keen eye on his plans to whether austerity measures and public sector cuts will feature alongside.
His taxes have seemingly already sent the rich packing. The world’s fourth richest man, Louis Vuitton, Moët and Hennessy boss Bernard Arnault, is currently pursuing Belgian nationality, but states this is so he can conduct business more easily over there. Arnault has pledged to continue living in France.
Hollande’s response to Arnault was a firm one:
“He must weigh up what it means to seek another nationality because we are proud to be French.”
There would be no exceptions in a 75 per cent tax on incomes above one million euros, the President added.
There is speculation Hollande plans to exempt sports stars and artists from the new 75% tax rate although this has not been confirmed. There were protests in July when the state auditor of France said unemployment benefit payments to artists and other creatives were unsustainable.
Recent opinion polls show the public has lost some confidence in the government four months after Hollande won presidential office.
In February 2012 I reported an announcement from the European Parliament recently had political parties like the UK’s BNP and France’s Front National party, rubbing their hands in glee. Their positions would have potentially been strengthened by gaining monies of 289,266 Euros for 2012 funded by the European Parliament. They would have gained this money from a 30 million euro fund, because the Alliance of European Nationalist Movements of which the BNP and Front National are members was officially recognised by the European Parliament for the first time. Other parties such as the European Socialists have been receiving this money for some time and their funding was set to decrease because of this development. The funding would have served to strengthen the Nationalists position and campaigns within the European Parliament. This was worrying given their stance on immigration including the free movement within the EU.
At the end of last week however the European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefcovic announced new rules for the funding of pan-European political parties and their associated think-tanks. One of these changes now requires EU funding only be given where these parties and foundations observe the values of the European Union, “namely respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”. The last part, on minority rights, is a new addition. This will make it harder for parties like the BNP to gain this funding. It will depend on whether they are able to convince the European Parliament and European Commission that they meet all of the conditions. British MEP’s along with the campaigning organisation Hope not Hate lobbied for this change.
Having campaigned against the BNP in the 2010 local elections in Barking and Dagenham and against the London Regional Coordinator Robert Bailey for my own council seat, I have experienced first-hand how nasty the BNP and parties like them can be. And having received racial abuse just last week from a BNP supporter in Dagenham confirms my fears.