Gerald Darmanin

The French Do It Differently

Should the Brits Have Closer Relationships?

Ties between the French government and its Overseas Territories are much closer than between the UK government and the British Overseas Territories. Should the Brits be more closely involved with the internal issues of its oversea territories?  Especially territories like St Helena which rely heavily on the ‘mother country’ for financial aid and specialist support.

The French Interior Minister visited some French Overseas Territories in the Pacific recently.  He didn’t just go to ‘show the flag’, he had a definite purpose.  He toured the French Pacific Islands. Taking with him a clear message and a plan for action.  He told the Pacific Islanders “There are too many economic monopolies in the overseas territories in general and in French Polynesia".  During a three-day visit to Tahiti he announced on television, "We're going to propose to President Brotherson (of Tahiti) that we tackle these monopolies together because where there are monopolies, prices are very high and where prices are very high, it's everyday Polynesians who struggle to get by,"

The French Parliament has already held a formal inquiry and called for drastic action to tackle runaway prices in the French Overseas Territories.  Réunion, French Guina and Martinique are all singled out as having prices, especially for food, which are around 40% higher than in France.

One Comment

  1. Part of the reason why prices are that much higher in the French overseas regions and collectivities is because their governments still levy import tariffs, including those from metropolitan France. Even though the overseas regions are part of the EU, they’ve never been part of the EU’s customs territory, unlike the Isle of Man before Brexit, despite not being in the EU itself.

    When the Dutch integrated some of their Caribbean islands, two of which have even smaller populations than St Helena, they adopted the US dollar, but that would have little advantage for St Helena as none of its neighbours uses it.

    On the other hand, VAT isn’t applied in two regions, French Guiana and Mayotte – Mayotte is still the poorest region in France, as well as the EU, despite the money Paris has poured into the place. (It was the only island in the Comoros to vote to remain French when the others voted for independence, and the French probably now wish it hadn’t

    Incidentally, calling those places from the UK using BT costs barely 16p a minute, whereas calling St Helena costs £1.32 a minute – ten years ago, it was £1.33 a minute to call French Guiana and £1.28 to call Mayotte, and £1.56 a minute to call St Helena. Why the difference? Partly because Orange, formerly France Telecom, charges BT less than Sure does, and partly because BT keeps the rates to these places the same as it did before Brexit, slightly more than calls to metropolitan France, which cost 10p a minute but considerably less than those to St Helena.

    Of course, until 2007, French citizens from those places had home student status at universities in the UK, unlike British citizens of St Helena, and before 2002, more right to live and work in the UK than British citizens of St Helena. Gibraltar only had both of these these because it was in the EU.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *