Jul 18, 2019
‘Yellow vest’ demonstrations cost France billions of euros
Jul 18, 2019
A report published on Wednesday by a French parliamentary commission indicated that the violence linked to the ‘yellow vest’ movement has had a disastrous impact on entire sectors of the French economy, costing billions of euros.
Globally, the cost of the demonstrations didn’t exceed the equivalent of 0.1% of GDP in the fourth quarter 2018 but, according to the three main authors of this “progress report”, macroeconomic data hides situations that in some cases are dramatic, especially for small businesses in inner city areas.
Also, the report said that this “earthquake” - in the words of MP and co-author Roland Lescure (of the La République en marche party) - will cause more tremors, whose impact the country will only be able measure in months to come.
“Who was affected? Not the leading international brands, which were badly hit for a couple of Saturdays only,” said report co-author Jean-René Cazeneuve (of the LaRem party) speaking at a press conference in Parliament in Paris.
“Inner cities and weaker, more fragile [businesses] were the worst affected,” added Cazeneuve, underlining this as a paradoxical outcome for a movement presented as the embodiment of marginalised France.
The report, drawn up over the course of two months of research by an ad hoc Parliamentary fact-finding mission, identified the direct costs to the country, in terms of the damages caused by the ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations Saturday after Saturday, and the indirect costs, due to loss of earnings caused by diminished footfall for stores and businesses.
€175 million in property damages for Parisian retailers
The report’s figures speak for themselves: €2 billion in lost revenue estimated by shopping malls, between €20 and €30 million for Monoprix stores alone, €850 million for cafés, hotels and restaurants, €700 million for the conference sector.
Parisian retailers suffered damages to property for €175 million, damages to the Arc de Triomphe cost €1 million, those suffered by bank branches across the whole of France were worth €15 million and damages to speed cameras cost €71 million, again according to the report.
Mobilising the police and other law-enforcement organisations was also expensive in terms of public money: overtime hours, damages to equipment and extra petrol costs amounted to €46 million altogether.
The report's authors also deplored the “tarnishing” of France’s image abroad, noting the 2.5% decrease in tourist visits to the country in the first quarter 2019, after two years of constant quarterly growth.
As a result, the Parliament’s fact-finding commission formulated six proposals, such as extending the government's extraordinary measures in favour of the worst-affected businesses, and continuing the “regeneration effort” in the worst-hit inner city areas.
The ‘yellow vest’ movement brought together nearly 300,000 protesters on November 17, the day of the first demonstrations. Since then, the weekly protests have gradually withered, despite some rekindling, and have become residual at the present time.
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