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MONEY

Foreign investors desert France in 2013: report

As if high unemployment, heavy public debt and an unhappy populace weren't enough, France also saw a double digit drop in foreign investment in 2013, according to a new United Nations report on Wednesday.

Foreign investors desert France in 2013: report
Foreign investment dropped in France a whopping 77 percent in 2013. Photo: Vincepal/Flickr

Signalling yet more bad news for France’s troubled economy, a United Nations report said the country saw a 77 percent decline in direct foreign investment last year, while the global average was an 11 percent increase.

France's results were the worst in the European Union, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade Development report released on Tuesday. 

The decline meant $5.7 billion (€4.2 billion) less invested in France as the country battles stubbornly high unemployment, which at 11.1 percent, is an historic level. Investment around the globe jumped by $1.46 billion (€1.1 billion) during the same time.

France is not alone in its troubles. Fifteen of 27 EU countries were also hit with a decline in investment in 2013, which was part of a global trend of cash flowing away from developed countries.

However, some parts of Europe did well, with foreign investment jumping by a whopping 392 percent in Germany up to $32.2 billion (€ 23.6 billion) and a climb to $37.1 billion (€27.1 billion) in Spain, which was a 37 percent increase, the report said.  

French daily 20 Minutes said the mood for foreign investors turned sour after President François Hollande’s election in 2012. Between fiscal belt tightening and Hollande’s perceived anti-business orientation, the climate scared away investors looking to spend.

Investors might be lured back by portions of Hollande's new policy package called the “responsability pact,” which has floated the idea of cuts in payroll costs for businesses that create jobs.

The plan, although criticized by left wing elements within his own party suggested Hollande was not anti-business as he is often made to be, and led to questions about whether he'd abandoned his socialist roots, a similar accusation that was laid at the feet of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and ex German Chancellor Gerhard Shröder.

Hollande has also called for reforms of the cumbersome French nanny state. In a new year address to civil servants, he said the state machinery was "too heavy, too slow, too expensive," and vowed to focus on cutting expenditure

"We will try and do this everywhere, or wherever possible," he said, pledging to make 50 billion euros (70 billion dollars) in savings by 2017. "Everyone must do their bit."

France has already unveiled a cost-cutting belt-tightening budget for 2014 that aims to bring down the public deficit from the current level of 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) through spending cuts totalling €15 billion and new taxes.

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ENERGY

France offers grants up to €1,500 to replace oil-fired boilers

Financial aid of up to €1,500 is temporarily available to households looking to replace oil-fired boilers with a more environmentally friendly heating systems. 

France offers grants up to €1,500 to replace oil-fired boilers

The temporary ‘coup de boost’ aims to encourage households to replace their oil-fired heating systems (chauffauge au fioul) and is in addition to the ‘coup de pouce chauffage’ (heating helping hand) scheme that is already underway to help under the energy saving certificates scheme (CEE).

All households that are primary residences – this aid is not available to second-home owners – equipped with an oil-fired boiler can benefit, with the amount for which they are eligible means-tested according to household resources and the replacement system chosen. 

Households with modest incomes benefit from a higher premium.

To benefit from the new temporary bonus, households must replace their individual oil-fired boiler with a more environmentally friendly heating system:

  • heat pump (air/water or hybrid);
  • combined solar system;
  • biomass boiler (wood or pellets);
  • connection to a heating network supplied mainly by renewable or recovered energy.

The total amount of financial help from the two schemes is €4,000 to €5,000 for low-income households; and from €2,500 to €4,000 for middle and high-income households.

For the connection of an individual house to a heating network, the amount of the bonus increases from €700 to €1,000 for low-income households; and from €450 to €900 for middle and high income households.

Estimates for the replacement of an oil-fired boiler must be accepted between October 29th, 2022, and June 30th, 2023, and work must be completed by December 31st, 2023.

The Coup de boost fioul aid can also be combined with MaPrimeRénov to replace an oil-fired boiler, meaning the least well-off households in France can benefit from aid of up to €16,000 to replace an oil-fired boiler with a pellet boiler or a combined solar system.

Since mid-April 2022, MaPrimeRénov’ financial aid has increased by an additional €1,000 for the installation of a renewable energy boiler. This can now reach €11,000 for the most efficient boilers (pellet boiler, combined solar system) and for households with modest incomes.

It must be noted that the installation of a very high energy performance gas boiler will no longer be eligible for MaPrimeRénov’ as of January 1st, 2023.

Find more details on the scheme HERE.

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