OECD Economic Surveys: France

Every 18 months
1999-0235 (online)
1995-3178 (print)
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the French economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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OECD Economic Surveys: France 2015

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02 Apr 2015
9789264230811 (EPUB) ; 9789264206489 (PDF) ;9789264206472(print)

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This OECD Economic Survey of France examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover competition, adult training and skills.

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  • Basic statistics of France, 2013

    This Survey is published on the responsibility of the Economic and Development Review Committee of the OECD, which is charged with the examination of the economic situation of member countries.The economic situation and policies of France were reviewed by the Committee on 2 February 2015. The draft report was then revised in the light of the discussions and given final approval as the agreed report of the whole Committee on 20 February 2015.The Secretariat’s draft report was prepared for the Committee by Nicola Brandt, Antoine Goujard and Natacha Valla under the supervision of Peter Jarrett. Research assistance was provided by Patrizio Sicari.The previous Survey of France was issued in March 2013.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive summary
  • Assessment and recommendations
  • Progress in structural reform

    This Annex reviews the measures taken in response to the recommendations from previous Surveys. The recommendations that are new to this Survey are contained in the corresponding chapters.

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    • Vocational training and adult learning for better skills

      France devotes a great deal of resources to vocational training for youths and especially adults, but the system is unduly complex and yields rather poor returns. The basic literacy and numeracy skills of many French adults remain weak in international comparison, with harmful effects on employment opportunities, wages and well-being. Access to basic skills training is poor for those who need it most, many of whom come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Secondary vocational education and apprenticeship training still suffer from a serious image problem in the minds of French families, even though the latter have a good track record. The government has succeeded in ensuring that the number of apprenticeships is growing, but that is mostly due to those studying at the tertiary level or at least for a higher secondary diploma. The labour market outcomes of those with only shorter vocational qualifications are not good, and quality in that stream needs to improve. To do so better teachers and workplace trainers need to be attracted to the field, especially individuals who can better link practical experience and theoretical concepts. The financing of the adult training system involves complex collection mechanisms even following a major recent overhaul. Making further changes will have to confront entrenched interests, even if the use of the training levy to finance business groups and unions has now ended. The goal is to direct more training funds to workers in small firms who have the weakest skills as well as to jobseekers, but this might be more easily achieved by shifting the funding base from a levy on employers to fiscal incentives or direct subsidies. There remains a need to align responsibilities for adult training with corresponding control over funds. Workers are henceforth to be given personal training accounts in which they can accumulate rights to up to 150 hours of training. But the enormous number of providers and courses on offer calls for greater efforts to develop good guidance, evaluation and certification systems to ensure the training finally chosen is appropriate and of sufficiently high quality.

    • Enhancing competitiveness, purchasing power and employment by increasing competition

      Over the past decade, France has substantially eased the burden of anti-competitive regulations and effectively enforced competition law against anti-competitive practices. Various sectors have been opened up more widely to competition, and the powers of the Competition Authority have been strengthened. However, reducing burdens on French businesses would increase competitive pressures in many sectors. In particular, the administrative procedures involved in starting a business remain lengthy, and the number of regulations and rules is substantial, while their potential impact on competition is not fully taken into account when they are drawn up and implemented. The complexity of the tax system also tends to penalise the youngest and smallest businesses. Recent streamlining initiatives are welcome but remain limited. Meanwhile, the territorial fragmentation of public procurement procedures, which could decline following ongoing reforms, impairs their efficiency, and entry and operating requirements appear to go beyond consumer protection in several regulated professions, such as legal services and health care. In the retail sector, recent reforms have significantly relaxed negotiating conditions between suppliers and retailers, and Sunday trading is intended to be partly liberalised. However, the ban on resale below cost has not been challenged, nor the tight rules controlling commercial zoning. Individual shops that contract with superstore chains cannot change chain easily. Of the network industries, it is in the telecommunications sector that competition has made the most progress, and there is room for further improvements in transport and energy.

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