France Industry

France has a diverse and well-developed industry, and industrial goods account for the majority of the country’s export earnings. Many large industries have evolved from smaller family businesses. The industrial sector employs just under one fifth of the country’s professionals.


A successful high-tech industry has grown strongly, partly thanks to government investments in research and development. France is one of the world’s leading nations in the aerospace industry, military equipment, and communications equipment.

Despite extensive state support and a relatively protected domestic market, several industrial sectors have undergone deep crises in recent decades. Growth has continued to be weaker than in most other euro zone countries. The worst affected are traditionally strong branches such as the metal, textile, shoe and shipyard industries. The automobile industry’s share of GDP has steadily declined since the beginning of the 1990s. Car manufacturing ended up in a difficult position during the global financial crisis at the end of the 1990s, but growth in the 2010s has slowly improved.

The Paris area is the foremost industrial region. More recently, the Rhône-Alpes area, with Lyon as its main location, has also experienced rapid development. Toulouse is the center of the aviation industry.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of France. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.



Election success for ruling nationalists in Corsica

December 11

The governing alliance of Corsica, consisting of the Party Let’s Make Corsica (Femu a Corsica) and Free Corsica (Corsica Libera), will receive increased support in elections to the Legislative Assembly on the island. The Alliance wants Corsica to have expanded self-government.

Republicans elect new leader

December 10

Republicans appoint Laurent Wauquiez, who has a decidedly right-wing stance and is a Catholic believer, as new secretary general of the party. He stands for a line that is close to the far right in issues such as French identity policy, security issues and immigration. This has led to invitations from National Front leader Marine Le Pen to form an alliance. After President Macron’s election victory, Republicans have been more clearly divided into a right wing that is behind Wauquiez and a middle group that more sympathizes with Macron’s business and EU-oriented policies.


Fillon leaves politics

November 19

François Fillon, who was one of the favorites for the presidential election last spring, hands over the leadership of his Force Force republicaine movement to Bruno Retailleau. Fillon formed the movement in the early 1990s as a way to gather his followers within the right. Fillon won in the Republican primary, but he did not advance to the second round of the presidential election. This was probably due to a scandal in which he was accused of employing his wife and children with state salary without having done any work.

Macron’s LREM gets new leader

November 19

President Macron’s Young Party Republic on the Road (LREM) has had problems with disagreements and divisions lately. The hope is that Christophe Castaner will be able to create unity in the party. Castaner is one of Macron’s allies and has previously belonged to the Socialist Party. He is unanimously elected by the party at a party congress in Lyon.


Parliament approves tax cuts

October 24th

The National Assembly voted in favor of several tax cuts, totaling an amount equivalent to over seven billion euros, which are included in the 2018 budget. But the budget also includes tax cuts for households. A new so-called flat tax should instead be introduced on capital income.

New terrorist laws are adopted

October 3

The National Assembly, with a large majority, approves new legislation which means that some of the measures that applied during the state of emergency will be permanent. This means, among other things, that the authorities will be able to carry out identity checks as well as close mosques and other religious sites without this being approved in advance by a judge.

Two dead in terror in Marseille

October 2

A 29-year-old Tunisian man stabs two women to death at a train station in Marseille. He is shot dead by police on the spot.


Macron keeps a line on the future of the EU

September 26th

In a speech at Sorbonne University in Paris, President Macron outlines the guidelines for a stronger EU with deeper cooperation between EU member states, among other things, he wants to see a common EU policy on defense, immigration and taxes. He also proposes that the euro area countries should be more closely integrated through a joint budget, finance minister and legislation.

Success for Republicans in Senate Election

September 24th

The party wins 150 seats, while President Macron’s En Marche! no more than 23. The election was about half of the Senate’s 348 seats. Republicans thus retain their majority in the Senate.

Macron signs labor law rules

September 22

Emmanuel Macron signs five different presidential resolutions, which mean major changes in labor law (see Current Policy). The signing means that the changes will be pushed through, but a number of sub-decisions are still missing in the coming months. The day before, some unions had again organized extensive demonstrations in various parts of the country.

Protests against labor law changes

September 13

Over 220,000 people demonstrate in Paris, Marseille and other French metropolitan cities since the country’s second largest trade union CGT urged its members to protest and strike against President Macron’s planned liberalization of labor market rules. However, other large unions do not participate in the protests. The protests are the first of a larger scale that Macron faces. New demonstrations are expected later, including the left-wing La France Insoumise.


The Senate votes for new security laws

July 19

A proposal from the Macron government on stricter security laws is being adopted by the Senate. Among other things, it should be easier for the police to carry out the house search and put people in house arrest. The laws will replace the state of emergency that was introduced after the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015 when 130 people were killed. The National Assembly will vote on the bill in October.

The Chief of Defense is leaving

July 19

The country’s defense chief, General Pierre de Villiers, resigns in protest of President Macron’s planned budget cuts. The General believes that he cannot guarantee France’s security with the defense appropriations decided by Macron. The defense budget will be reduced by EUR 850 million in 2017.

The government presents economic reforms

July 4th

Prime Minister Philippe presents a comprehensive reform package with tax cuts and substantial savings in public finances. The goal is to increase investment and reduce the state’s dependence on borrowed money. Philippe warns that France’s national debt is $ 2,100 billion, which corresponds to full-year production in the country. France’s public spending corresponds to 56 percent of GDP, one of the highest levels in the EU.

Macron wants to reduce the number of parliamentarians

July 3

In a speech to the new parliament, President Macron says he will propose to reduce the number of members in the two chambers by one third. Today, 577 members are in the National Assembly and 348 in the Senate. The president also wants to introduce elements of proportional representation in the electoral system. Macron adds that he may call for a referendum on these amendments if necessary, that is, if Parliament does not support him.


The government presents labor market reform

June 28

President Emmanuel Macron is supported by the government for its ambitious plans to change the country’s rigid labor market legislation. The goal is, among other things, to be able to reduce high unemployment. Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud announces that the government plans to try to change labor legislation through so-called executive orders, that is, without voting in Parliament, because otherwise the process may be delayed. However, Parliament must first approve the use of executive orders.

Three ministers resign after allegations of contribution fraud

21 June

Minister of Justice François Bayrou resigns and is followed by Minister of European Affairs Marielle de Sarnez – the day after Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard has also submitted. As a result, the Modem Alliance Party has left all three of its ministerial posts within a day. The background is that prosecutors are investigating suspicions that Modem used EU funds to pay party workers. The relationship between Bayrou, Modem’s leader, and Macron is reported to have been strained for several weeks due to conflicting views on the management of the Modem business.

Minister resigns

June 19

LREM Secretary General Richard Ferrand resigns from his post as Minister responsible for territorial cohesion. The reason is growing criticism as he is under investigation for having used insider information during his time as CEO to help his wife in a housing deal.

Macron’s party gets its own majority

June 18

President Macron’s party Republic on the road (LREM) wins the parliamentary elections by a large enough majority to secure its own majority. LREM receives 308 seats and together with the Allied Middle Party Modem a total of 350 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. This is less than expected after the first round of elections a week earlier and voter turnout is just under 43 percent. The Socialist Party makes a disaster choice and the overall left gets only 44 seats. The right, dominated by Republicans, gets 137 seats.


Roll victory for Macron

May 7

Emmanuel Macron wins the second round of the presidential election with 66 percent of the vote. The National Front’s Marine Le Pen receives just over 33 percent. The turnout is low, just over 74 percent.

Hacker attack against Macron

May 6

The day before the second round of the French presidential election, it is revealed that Emmanuel Macron and his campaign participants must have been subjected to an IT attack by computer hackers. Q clay email accounts of the Macrons motion a Marche! should have been cut and tens of thousands of documents have been leaked and published on the internet.


Le Pen leaves the party leader post

April 24

Marine Le Pen announces that she is temporarily stepping aside as party leader for the National Front. The reason for her decision is that she wants to put all her energy into her campaign and that she wants to be free from party political connections. Initially, Jean-François Jalkh is appointed interim party leader, but after being drawn into a debate over a Holocaust statement during World War II, he is replaced by Steeve Briois, Mayor of Henin-Beaumont.

Historical first round of elections

April 23

After the first round of the presidential election, it is clear that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will move on to a second round. This is the first time that none of the established right and left parties are in the final round. Macron receives 24 percent of the vote and Le Pen just over 21 percent.

New terror attack

April 20

Three days before the first round of elections another terrorist attack occurs in the country. A police officer is shot dead and two other police officers are seriously injured when a man opens fire on the famous street Champs Elysées in Paris. The suspected offender is shot to death.


First TV debate before the election

21 March

The five main candidates in the presidential election participate in the program: National Front’s Marine Le Pen, center candidate Emmanuel Macron, Republican François Fillon, Socialist Party Benoit Hamon and leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon. Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are predicted in opinion polls have the greatest chance of moving on to a second round of elections. Eleven candidates have received official approval to stand in the presidential election.

Fillon gets Republican support

6 March

After Alain Juppé refused to step in and replace François Fillon as the party’s candidate in the presidential election, after Fillon was withdrawn in a scandal (see January 2017), Republicans in a party meeting decided unanimously to support Fillon.


The national front is suspected of fraud

February 23

Marine Le Pen’s personal assistant Catherine Griset is being charged with trespass against the principal in connection with an investigation into whether the party embezzled € 340,000 of the European Parliament’s money. Le Pen must have paid the pig and another person for work done for the party in France and not for the European Parliament.

Macron is supported by middle politicians

February 23

Instead of running for president himself, François Bayrou, leader of the Movement Democrat (MoDem), chooses to form an alliance with Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron. Bayrou has been a presidential candidate in previous presidential elections, but this time he wants to give his support to Macron to avoid splitting the middle electorate, which would benefit Marine Le Pen.

Fillon remains in the presidential election

February 18

François Fillon has previously said that he would step down as a right-wing candidate if he were to be prosecuted for having hired his wife and paid her with state money without doing any work (see January 2017). Now, however, he announces that he will not give up the fight for the presidency.


Hamon becomes the Socialist Party candidate

30th of January

Benoît Hamon wins over Manuel Valls with about 59 percent of the vote.

Fillon’s wife is being investigated by prosecutors

January 26

François Fillon, the right-wing candidate in the presidential election, is accused of having paid his wife with state money without any evidence that she has done any work. The information comes from the magazine le Canard Enchainé. Prosecutors initiate a preliminary investigation.

The Socialist Party’s first round of elections is complete

January 22

Former Education Minister Benoît Hamon and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls move on to a second round of the Socialist Party’s primary election. It will be held on January 29.

France Industry

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