France is especially known for its French cuisine, its strong-tasting cheeses, wines and baguettes, all of which are enjoyed in France with every meal.
Official language: French
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Agriculture and fishing
One third of France’s land is used for agriculture, but agricultural land is gradually declining. At the same time, production is growing through higher efficiency, especially in large-scale agriculture. France is one of the EU’s leading grain producers and is one of the world’s largest producers of wheat.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of France. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
In addition to wheat, barley, corn and sugar beets are important agricultural products. France is also one of the world’s largest wine producers. Livestock farming is also an important source of income in agriculture. In essence, it is about cattle. In parts of Brittany there is a large-scale and profitable pig breeding.
The proportion of the working population working in agriculture has declined sharply, from 25 percent in 1954 to about 2.8 percent in 2014.
French farmers are a strong lobbying group that gladly demonstrates dissatisfaction with manure tractors loads. Few French politicians dare to oppose them. France is usually the EU country that receives the greatest support for agriculture. France slows down attempts to abolish EU agricultural subsidies and cut food tariffs on imports. For France defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
France is a forest-rich country. More than a quarter of the country’s area is covered by forest. The forest industry is relatively significant, but domestic production is far from the country’s needs. Wood and pulp are imported in large quantities.
Fishing is an important industry. The French fishing fleet is one of the largest in the EU countries. But international competition is fierce and fishing requires large investments. In addition, the EU has been forced to reduce the allowable catches to rescue endangered fish stocks. The catches are made mainly in the North Sea and the Atlantic. A large part of the fishing income comes from oyster farms off the coast. Despite the large national fisheries and important fish farms, imports are extensive.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
1.6 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
52.4 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of FRA stands for the state of France in geography.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde risks prosecution
The charge pertains to a payment in 2007 when she, as Finance Minister, would resolve a dispute between businessman Bernard Tapie and state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais. Lagarde decided that the dispute should be resolved through a private arbitration procedure. The decision was that Tapie would be replaced by the state with EUR 400 million. Lagarde did not appeal the decision, which caused a storm of protest. In 2011, a prosecutor recommended that an investigation be conducted into Lagarde’s actions. There are suspicions that Tapie received compensation for giving his support to Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.
The national front is advancing in regional elections
The National Front gets 28 percent of the vote in the first round and its candidates advance to a second round of elections in 13 regions. Ahead of the second round, the Socialist Party chooses to withdraw its two candidates in two regions and instead call on its voters to support Sarkozy’s Republicans. This applies to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie regions, where Marine Le Pen stands and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, where Marine’s niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen is the UN candidate. The strategy manages to hinder the advance of the National Front. The second round of regional elections ends with UN candidates not winning in any of the 13 regions, despite the leadership in the first round. Republicans take home most regions and receive 40 percent of the vote, while the Socialist Party comes second with 29 percent. The UN receives 27 percent of the vote.
Criticism against treatment of refugees in Calais
The government is criticized by human rights organizations for blocking migrants in an attempt to evacuate the infamous “jungle” refugee camps in Calais, where thousands (about 4,500) of migrants are waiting to try to make their way to the UK. Conditions are substandard in the camps with insufficient sanitary facilities. Most live in tents that are not adapted for winter. According to reports, migrants from the camps are being transported to other parts of the country, according to official spokesmen, pending deportation. But according to human rights reports, only a couple of percent had left the country, while the others remained in custody.
Attacks against suspected terrorists
Police strike a few days after the terrorist attack against an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, where a Belgian man believed to be the brain behind the terrorist attack is suspected to be staying. A woman bursts to death while a person is shot to death by police. Another at least one person is killed in connection with the police intervention. It turns out to be the man who was wanted for planning the terrorist attacks.
The appeal to the EU for help
The French government asks the rest of the EU countries for assistance in the fight against IS and refers to a solidarity clause in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty. This is the first time this military aid clause has been used in the event that a Member State has been subjected to an armed attack. All EU countries answer yes to France’s request.
An aircraft carrier wages the war against IS
Government teams have announced that an aircraft carrier will be sent to the Persian Gulf to assist in the airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq.
New bomb attacks against IS
Two days after the terrorist attack, French fighter aircraft carry out extensive bombings of Raqqa in Syria, where IS has its main base in the country.
Terrorist act in Paris
France faces an emergency permit and three days of country grief after 130 people were killed in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris. 352 people are injured, of which a hundred are serious. The terrorist attacks are the worst in France in peacetime, and President Holland calls the attacks “an act of war” organized by the Islamic State(IS). The attacks that occur during the latter part of the evening are carried out by a number of armed men and suicide bombers. Several restaurants and bars in central Paris, where close to 40 guests are indiscriminately shot down. Most casualties are required when armed men storm into a crowded concert venue, Bataclan, and begin to mow down the crowd with kalashnikovs. Ninety people lose their lives before the premises are stormed by security forces. At the concert hall attack, the attackers are heard shouting slogans in Arabic and one of them is said to have shouted that the reason for the attack is France’s intervention in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. Three of the perpetrators die when they blow themselves to death. Even a football match between France and Germany, as President Hollande proves, is exposed when three suicide bombers blow themselves up in the air at some eateries adjacent to the football stadium. The following day, IS made a statement in which the movement claimed to be responsible for the attacks and that these were a revenge for France’s bombing of IS targets in Syria and Iraq. Later it turns out that a 29-year-old Frenchman with roots in Algeria is one of the suicide bombers. He is previously known by police for committing several minor crimes and has returned to France after a time in Syria where he is said to have been radicalized. Two French brothers, who were based in Brussels, Belgium, are also reported to have been involved in the attacks. One of them blew himself up outside one of the restaurants where the terrorist act was carried out, while the other is still believed to be free. Another two perpetrators have entered the EU via Greece with the help of fake Syrian passports and claimed to be refugees. A third suicide bomber is later identified as a resident of Strasbourg. He has been in Syria for a long time.
Bomb attacks against IS
At the end of the month, France for the first time launches bomb attacks with fighter aircraft against Islamic State bases in Syria.
New terrorist act averted
Four men are rewarded with the Legion of Honor by President Hollande after they prevented a terrorist attack. A heavily armed Moroccan was overpowered by the three American tourists, all trained military, and a British businessman when he attacked passengers on a train between Amsterdam and Paris.
Terrorist acts averted
A Paris resident has been arrested by police after being under guard for a long time. It is discovered that he planned a terror attack against a concert venue in Paris. His plan was to shoot at the crowd with a handgun. The man had returned after being trained by IS in Syria.
Jean-Marie Le Pen is excluded from the National Front
The party decides on the exclusion following a temporary decision by Marine Le Pen. (see May 2015)
Agreement with Russia on arms dealings
An agreement is finally reached with Russia on the canceled sale of two French Mistral ships (see August 2014). France will compensate Russia for all expenses incurred by the country in connection with the transaction, including training of marines, adaptation of the port of Vladivostok etc.
Refugee chaos in Calais
The situation in the port city of Calais is attracting international attention after hundreds of migrants tried to storm off the tunnel under the English Channel in an attempt to cross to Britain. French police are sent to Calais to stop the intrusion attempts. Many migrants are waiting in camps (called the jungle) in Calais to get to the UK. Nearly twenty people have died as they tried to get through the train tunnel.
Terrorist acts are averted
Three people are arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack on a military facility in Port-Vendres. The plan should have been to kill as many soldiers as possible on the base and then behead the commander at the facility. One of the suspects was reported to have had contacts with IS in Syria.
French farmers block over a week off a series of roads leading to and from Germany and Spain. This is in protest against what farmers see as unfair competition from cheaper imported agricultural products. With their tractors, farmers block trucks with imported goods at several border crossings. The protests create widespread traffic chaos.
New terrorist act
An investigation into terrorist offenses begins when a man was found decapitated at a gas plant near Lyon and a car drove into the factory in an attempt to cause an explosion. The incident is likened to the Islamic State’s methods of terrorism and the state is put in the highest alert. A man who was employed by the murder victim is arrested and confessed to the act.
American espionage against the president
The Internet site Wikileaks states that the US intelligence organization NSA has spied on the President of France during the period 2006-2012.
New vote of confidence in the National Assembly
Prime Minister Valls is again pushing for an economic reform package in the National Assembly by using a constitutional clause that means that no vote is needed. The reason is, as in February (see February 2015), that he lacks the support of the Socialist Party’s left wing. The act leads to the opposition demanding a vote on the confidence of the government in Parliament. 198 members vote yes to dismiss the government, but at least 289 votes are required for this to happen.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s party of the UMP is renaming the Republicans (les republicains).
New terrorist layer
The National Assembly adopts a new bill that gives intelligence organizations expanded powers to collect telecommunications and data communications in connection with suspected cases of terrorist activity. Among other things, it becomes possible to collect so-called metadata.
Jean-Marie Le Pen is excluded from the National Front
Party leader Marine Le Pen temporarily withdraws his membership in the party (see April).
Woman killed in terrorist act
A 33-year-old Frenchman is killed in Villejuif, a suburb of Paris, by an Algerian national. The man is said to have planned to strike at two church congregations in the town and had the car full of automatic rifles. Later, cousins were arrested for the man.
Jean-Marie Le Pen does not run for regional elections
The founder of the National Front does not intend to run for election in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of south-eastern France in favor of 25-year-old granddaughter Marion Marechal-Le Pen, whom he wants to put in place as his first name. Jean-Marie Le Pen retires following a dispute with the daughter and leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen. She raised her father in March, announcing that she would not support him in the regional elections after he again said that the Nazi gas chambers were just “a detail of history”. Since taking office as party leader in 2011, Marine Le Pen has had the goal of washing away the National Front’s stamp as racist and anti-Semitic, and she has high ambitions for the 2017 presidential election.
Tax relief for businesses
The government introduces tax relief for companies in order to accelerate investment. Companies are given the opportunity to deduct the cost of industrial investment from taxed profits over a five-year period.
Setback for the Socialist Party in local elections
In the elections to the country’s about 100 ministries, the party gets about 25 percent of the vote and falls far behind the winner UMP (in alliance with the UDI) under its newly elected leader Nicolas Sarkozy. The UMP takes control of 67 ministries – which is 27 more than before. The Socialist Party backs 34 departments. The national front, despite making a good choice with 22 percent of the vote, does not get control of any department.
Proposed measures against terrorism
The government presents a new bill that will make it possible to collect telecommunications and internet data from persons suspected of having links to terrorist activities. The proposal faces harsh criticism from human rights organizations who believe it violates private integrity, but it has support from the major parties. The National Assembly will vote on the proposal in May.
Comedies convicted of anti-Semitism
The comedian Dieudonne, known for his controversial speeches that were sentenced to be anti-Semitic and led to high fines, is again convicted of anti-Semitic statements. This time he will pay 22,500 euros.
Attacks against Jewish Assembly
A 30-year-old Frenchman injures three soldiers guarding a Jewish assembly hall in Nice.
Budgetary requirements from the EU
France will have a deadline for 2017 to reduce its budget deficit to the level set by euro cooperation: a maximum of 3 percent of GDP. By April, the French government must submit a credible plan to the EU on how it intends to achieve the goal. The European Commission calls for the budget deficit to be reduced to 4.0 percent in 2015, to 3.4 percent in 2016 and 2.8 percent in 2017. The French government has already promised a gradual reduction at roughly the same rate, but the European Commission does not say have got a plan for how this would happen.
The government wins a vote in confidence
Opposition parties are demanding a vote in the National Assembly after Prime Minister Valls used a special constitutional clause to push through a controversial change in labor market legislation in the National Assembly (see Current Policy).
Mass demonstration in Paris
The attacks lead to an extensive debate on freedom of expression and press and the fight against terrorists in France. More than 1.5 million people, including 40 heads of state and government from the outside world, take part in a street march in Paris to mark community and protest against terrorist acts.
Attacks on Charlie Hebdo
7 th of January
Three black-clad perpetrators break into the newspaper editorial and shoot twelve people to death and injure seven. Four of the dead are cartoonists who published a caricature of Prophet Muhammad in 2011. The perpetrators, during the cold-blooded assassination, must have shouted that they have restored Prophet Muhammad. After the deed, French police launch a comprehensive detention order to seize the perpetrators, now identified as two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who were formerly known by police and had a background in militant Islamist movements. The next day, a police officer is shot dead and a man injured in southern Paris. Later it turns out that the perpetrator, Amedy Coulibaly, has a connection with the Kouachi brothers. These are killed by police when they suddenly go into attack after entrenching themselves in an industrial premises outside Paris. Amedy Coulibaly was also shot dead when police storm a Jewish grocery store in Paris where Coulibaly took several hostages and killed four people while demanding that the Kouachi brothers be released.