France, which has regularly been presented by various prominent authors as a "blocked" society, if not indeed a society doomed to decline, is marking time economically and has not managed to recover a sufficient pace of economic growth to end the crisis besetting it for more than three decades. Under one government after another, reports and proposals have been produced aiming to reverse this trend, providing lists of the measures to be taken, but so far to no avail.
Two new reports in this same vein were published in late 2007 and early 2008. The first, by the Conseil d'analyse économique is entitled The Levers of French Growth (Paris: La documentation Française, 2007). The second, by the Attali Commission is called 300 Decisions for Changing France (Paris: La documentation Française/Xo éditions, 2008). Both provide quite a well-stocked list of measures aimed at re-launching the country's economic growth and Charles du Granrut has analysed and compared these for Futuribles. Though they share a diagnosis of the obstacles to growth, particularly in the employment field, the two reports converge on many points, including higher education, increased labour market flexibility, the liberalization of "closed" occupations etc. However, as Charles du Granrut reminds us, and as the previous reports (which in many cases contained very similar proposals) have proved, implementing these measures (which, according to the authors make sense only when carried out in a joined-up way) is a delicate matter, to say the least, given the various "blockages" in French society and its aversion to change, which have bedevilled earlier attempts. Moreover, the factors accounting for economic growth are not perhaps as clear as they seem.