This past weekend, I was leafing through Madame Figaro magazine and I came across an interesting (if perplexing) quote from Fleur Pellerin, the French ministre déléguée chargée des PME, de l'Innovation et de l'Économie numérique (loosely translated, minister in charge of small and medium businesses, innovation and the digital economy). The junior minister is quoted as stating that her main objective is to "reassure entrepreneurs and make France a country open to entrepreneurship."
First, not to put too fine a point on it, but just what exactly would a woman who graduated from l'ENA (l'Ecole national de l'administration, aka the French state's school for bureaucrats) and spent her entire career (up until now) at France's Cour des comptes (a quasi-judicial body charged with conducting financial audits of most public institutions) know about the challenges of entrepreneurship? In fact, virtually every member of the current government starting with President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault on down has the dubious distinction of having spent their entire professional lives either in government service or in politics. Where are the members of the French Cabinet with actual private sector business experience?
Second and more importantly, this is a country infamous for erecting regulatory hurdles and creating a veritable web of taxes, fees and red tape that suffocate young businesses before they ever get off the ground. As a result, France has a long track record of driving away its young entrepreneurs who leave for the U.S., U.K. and Asia where they build their businesses, create employment and generate wealth for their adopted countries.
Sadly, I don't see this trend about to change any time soon. Indeed, the current government has hardly shown itself to be supportive of building and growing a business. Between the confiscatory tax policies and the outright hostility manifested by the likes of Arnaud Montebourg (France's Minister of Industrial Renewal) towards business leaders to date, it has shown quite the opposite.
France is headed for turbulent times and needs all hands on deck. I certainly hope Ms. Pellerin is up for the challenge. I wish her much luck.
The Luxe Chronicles