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expatriation an issue in the presidential campaign

Nearly 2.5 million French people live abroad, mainly for professional reasons. Nevertheless, they maintain strong ties with France. In this election period, expatriation could be a campaign issue.

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94 % of expatriates intend to go to the polls in 2017, according to the 2017 Humanis - barometer. They live, for the most part, in Europe, Africa, the United States or even Oceania, but follow, for 82%, French political news at least once a week. A non-negligible pool for presidential candidates. What do these expatriates expect from the new Head of State? That he will give priority to employment (84 %), education (76 %) and security (64 %). Nothing new under the sun, since these are important areas for the majority of French people.

"Sylvaine Emery, Director of International and Overseas Activities at Humanis, points out: "But where there are divergences is when we look at the issues that these French people abroad say the future president will be most concerned about: taxes, education, retirement and health. In short, a lot of social protection and taxation. "It's that little French extra. Our social protection system is more efficient and less expensive. As expatriates, they're not used to the Anglo-Saxon system, where you have to pay before you're treated," explains Stéphanie Villers, Chief Economist.

As far as French expatriates are concerned, the candidates are eagerly awaiting these proposals. All the more so as, while Obamacare has had an impact on social security coverage for expatriates in the USA (92 % of them are now covered), the fact remains that overall subscriptions (retirement, health, provident and repatriation assistance) fell last year. This is due to the fact that 48% of expatriates who are not covered consider the cost to be too high.

Setting up companies? Yes, but not in France

The other non-negligible point for the presidential campaign is linked to business creation. Among expatriates, 20 % are entrepreneurs, while 39 % admit to being tempted to start an entrepreneurial project... abroad! Why not in France? Administrative procedures are considered too complex by 79% of expatriates. "This raises questions about entrepreneurship," notes Stéphanie Villers, chief economist. "Obviously, this is a recurring topic in politics. For two quinquennia, we've been hearing about simplification measures, yet we're witnessing a brain drain. And yet, business start-ups are the jobs of tomorrow.

But what amplifies the need for France to rethink expatriation is obviously the rise of protectionism within host countries. "With the election of Trump and the Brexit, it's a cold shower. Who could have imagined that these two symbols of globalization and free trade would become areas of tension?" continues the economist.

After Trump's election and Brexit, the economic war is on

While it is still too early to draw conclusions in figures, future trends are strongly anticipated. "There could be a shift towards other destinations for French expatriates. Asia-Pacific, Oceania, Canada, provided NAFTA is not called into question. Africa, which has long been neglected, could become a strong growth pole.

In Europe, which accounts for 49 % of the destinations chosen by French expatriates, the stakes are high. "If the Euro zone and France know how to send out the right signals, they will have the opportunity to establish themselves as leaders. This is particularly true for the City. It represents 15 % of British GDP. We have every interest in recovering these brain-drainers". The number of French expatriates in Great Britain is estimated at 400,000. "Theresa May's decision on a possible 'hard Brexit' will be crucial. After that, expats will have two years to decide. Add to that the fall in sterling: it's no longer a comfort zone. So the question is open and the economic war is on".


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