Echoes of de Gaulle as Auto-entrepreneurs Resist
A perverse French government decision to undermine a successful five-year-old self-employment scheme that has potentially taken nearly a million people off welfare rolls has prompted a battle royal as auto-entrepreneurs across France promise resistance.
In a deliberate echo of the famous wartime rallying call by former president Charles de Gaulle, FEDAE -Federation auto-entrepreneur, an umbrella organisation for those registered as sole traders and the Les Poussins, a movement set up to defend the scheme, issued an Appel du 18 juin(See French News online articles about the original Appel du 18 juin here , here and here ).
The call is for the 900,000+ registered auto-entrepreneurs across France to rally on Tuesday June 18 from 1130 outside their local employment offices and make formal inquiries about benefits if they are forced back into unemployment by changes to the regime that come into play from 1 January 2015. The aim is to impress on government the cost to taxpayers of destroying the scheme at a time when youth unemployment in France and indeed across Europe is at its highest level since World War II. More details on the FEDAE website here and here: See details at this link: Voir le récapitulatif de l’événement; See the map of France for meeting points: Voir la carte de France des lieux de RDV. See the gathering points by postal code here: Voir la liste des RDV classés par code postal. Date: Tues, 18. June 2013 – 11:30 – 14:00 in Paris with mass media coverage at 3 Rue des Nanettes PARIS 75011
On June 12 2013 cabinet agreed to changes introduced by Sylvia Pinel, the junior minister for trade and tourism reforming the auto-entrepreneur regime. The key measure is a reduction in intermediate annual turnover thresholds to 19,000 euros for services (artisans and liberal professions) and 47,500 euros for trade. Sylvia Pinel justified her reform, introduced despite two formal consultation reports that showed the regime was not a threat to artisans and a petition opposing the change that gathered more than 100,000 signatures, by insisting the auto-entrepreneur system had “distorted competition, particularly for artisans and was being used as disguised employment”. For auto-entrepreneur’s who do not exceed the intermediate thresholds of 19,000 euros for services and 47,500 for trade, the system will remain unchanged.
Watch the announcement here:
And read and download the statement here (.pdf): Adaptation du régime de l’auto-entrepreneur et soutien à l’entrepreneuriat individual (with thanks to This French Life)
Despite the decision taken by cabinet it does not as yet appear to have filtered down to the Foreign Ministry and the Invest in France Agency.
On its website the French embassy in Ireland for instance carries this pdf praising the autoentrepreneur scheme as a highly positive development and noting how the success of the deal has pushed France to the top ranks of desirable foreign investment destinations.
In the document David Appia, Ambassador for International Investment and Chairman and CEO of The Invest in France Agency says: “In the competition to attract job-creating foreign investment, value added and talent, countries with a strong and comprehensive “investment attractiveness mix” stand apart from their peers. France can be seen in this light, as one of the few countries in Europe to boast so many structural advantages. The global economic crisis has underscored their importance: efficient public services, world-class infrastructure, a diversified technological base, a highly skilled and productive workforce, and one of Europe’s most dynamic demographics, signaling the country’s confidence in the future. On average, 13 foreign companies choose to make new job-creating investments here every week. France receives more foreign investment in industry than any other country in Europe. Competition, both between European countries and within each EU Member State, is driven not only by competitiveness, administrative efficiency, and the welcome afforded to foreign investors, but also by the image that investment locations project. My hope is that, by convincing potential foreign investors of France’s investment attractiveness, this collection of facts and figures will also help close the gap between perception and reality by restoring France’s image as an open, competitive and innovative country at the heart of the European market.”
In a document entitled “France welcomes talent and investment” the Agency goes on to note: “a sound legal framework, efficient infrastructure and government services, and progress in simplifying administrative procedures have transformed the business environment in France. France has among the highest numbers of new business start-ups in Europe, thanks in particular to the success of the “auto-entrepreneur” freelance business scheme.” In 2011, 550,000 new businesses were started in France, 290,000 of which were founded under the “auto-entrepreneur” freelance business scheme.
Thanks, the Agency says, to the success of the “auto-entrepreneur” scheme, France is Europe’s number one country for new business startups. (Source: Eurostat, 2009)
Meanwhile the leftwing news site Rue 89 has been running an impressive series of personal witness articles from self-employed people directly affected by the changes. The most recent can be found here: Autoentrepreneurs: “I found self-esteem”
Facebook pages around France have been mobilised as part of the resistance, here is VieDautoentrepreneurAeDeFrance which linked back to the French News Online article:
Story: Ken Pottinger
(Declaration of interest: the writer is an auto-entrepreneur)
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