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France Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

President Emmanuel Macron’s administration announced on 3 September 2020 the details of a EUR100-billion plan de relance, a stimulus package aimed at relaunching the economy, with a strong focus on green investment and job security.Macron appointed Jean Castex, former mayor of Prades, Pyrénées-Orientales, and co-ordinator of France’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus lockdown exit strategy, as prime minister on 3 July 2020. Cabinet appointments in Macron’s government reshuffle indicate likely policy continuity in the management of the economic recovery strategy and healthcare response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The government’s roadmap for the lockdown exit strategy is likely to remain unchanged.There is a high risk of riots in the Paris suburbs over perceived police brutality and racial discrimination. Large organised protests, which had subsided during the COVID-19 virus-related lockdown, have resurfaced, driven by anti-racism solidarity rallies. The risk of protest-associated property damage and violence, particularly affecting security forces, remains high.After a significant decline in activity during the first and second quarters of 2020, IHS Markit expects the French economy to return to growth during the third quarter, but the recovery will be very gradual and potentially prone to relapses.The government has substantially relaxed fiscal policy to support the economy, providing financial support to firms and households, as well as loan guarantees to businesses hit by the fall in activity. As a result, the fiscal deficit will widen substantially in 2020, but borrowing costs are expected to remain low as a result of extremely accommodative monetary policy.The risk of Islamist terrorist attacks in France is persistently high. Low-capability, lone-actor attacks involving vehicles, blades, and/or firearms are far more likely to succeed than sophisticated plots as they require a minimal amount of organisation and little, if any, communication between different parties. Islamist militants will prioritise indiscriminate attacks against congregations of civilians, or targeted assaults on security personnel.

Operational Outlook

Industrial action in France is frequent and well-organised, often hampering business operations. The transport sector is frequently affected, with the most significant disruption in the one-year outlook likely to affect rail and local public transport. Road blockades set up by striking workers and other protest groups are also likely. In response to contested government reforms, trade unionists could also attempt to target oil refineries and depots with blockades, or cut the power supply to symbolic assets. Transport infrastructure in the capital is likely to be improved by the "Grand Paris" project, due to be completed by 2030.

Terrorism

There is a high likelihood of attacks by Islamist militants using blades, firearms, or vehicles, as seen in the July 2016 Nice attack. Co-ordinated, marauding attacks such as those in Paris in November 2015 are less likely and would be rapidly neutralised given the greater preparedness of security forces. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin stated in September 2020 that the terrorism risk level in France remained “extremely high” and that French authorities were monitoring 8,132 individuals suspected of Islamist radicalisation who represent a potential security threat. Darmanin also stated that the main terrorist threat stemmed from homegrown radicalisation.

Crime

France has led international efforts to counter financial crime and tax evasion although these remain issues. Gang crime remains prevalent in southern French cities, such as Marseille and Grenoble. Corsican mafia groups operate in both Corsica itself and southern French cities. France is exposed to the trafficking of firearms from the Balkans, although since the uptick in terrorist attacks in 2015, greater efforts have been taken to stem their flow.

War Risks

War risks on French soil are minimal given the country’s favourable relations with its neighbours. The government increased the defence budget for 2020 by EUR1.7 billion to EUR37.5 billion, with the aim of increasing its military capability. France maintains a strong military presence, and capacity to intervene, in its former African colonies. The stated goals of French intervention centre on preventing humanitarian disaster, disrupting terrorist networks, restoring territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and consolidating political processes leading to democratic elections. France will continue to play a prominent role in the fight against global terrorism and is a key player in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

Social Stability

High

Large organised protests have resumed after temporarily subsiding because of restrictions imposed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus outbreak. Protests with a high risk of violence and attracting up to hundreds of thousands of participants are common in France, particularly in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Montpellier. The police are likely to respond with tear gas to disperse crowds, particularly if demonstrators throw projectiles. The most likely trigger for riots in suburban areas is perceived police brutality or discrimination against members of minority ethnic groups. The risk of property damage and arson to business premises and vehicles around protests and riots is high.

Health Risk

Low

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

The risk of flooding is relatively high; 5 to 7 percent of France's territory is located in flood zones. In November 1999, flooding in areas of Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales departments left some 30 people dead. Strong winter storms, such as Xynthia in February 2010, also occasionally strike the country. This storm brought violent winds and very high tides, which generated unprecedented flooding, leaving some 40 people dead, principally in the Vendée, Charente-Maritime, and des Côtes d'Armor departments. In October 2015, floods in the southeast of the country killed at least 18 people. More recently, in February 2017, the French Meteorological Institute - Météo France - issued red alerts for several departments, including Charente, Charente-Maritime, and Gironde, due to severe wind.

Practical Information

Climate

France has a temperate climate with four main climatic regions.

In the west, the climate is oceanic and humid, with mild winters and relatively cool summers.

The climate in Alsace, Lorraine, along the Rhone corridor, and in mountainous regions (Alps, Pyrenees, Central Massif) is semi-continental with harsh winters and hot summers.

In the north (Paris and Central Region), winters are cold and summers hot.

The south of France enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +33
Police: 17
Fire Dept.: 18
UAS: 15

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal