France will have full employment and an end to homelessness by the year 2025, government ministers have predicted.
The highly optimistic forecasts of the state of France in 12 years time come after president François Hollande told his Cabinet to “look into the future” as part of their “homework” over the summer holidays.
Ministers reported their predictions back to the socialist leader at a meeting at the Elysée Palace yesterday. But many of their hopes and expectations have been leaked to the French media, which reacted with incredulity to several of the forecasts.
Finance minister Pierre Moscovici was said to be living in “dreamland” for foretelling that France’s current record-breaking jobless total of almost 11 per cent would be cut to zero by 2025.
However, he was praised for his realism for also guessing that France’s GDP would also drop from fifth to eighth or ninth in the world by the middle of the next decade, and adding: “As always, so will that of the UK too.”
Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg saw France as maintaining its role as a global champion of aeronautics and high-speed rail, and also predicted the creation of a car that will run for 63 miles on just two litres of fuel. Justice minister Christiane Taubira forecast an end to overcrowding in French prisons and an expansion of alternative punishments.
Green party minister Cécile Duflot said she believed six million new homes would be constructed, adding: “Vacant housing will become extremely rare. Everyone will have a roof over their heads.”
Her optimism extended even further as she forecast an end to France’s notorious official red tape, telling the president: “Getting access to this universal housing will no longer provoke stress. Rather, it will be a pleasant step in one’s life.”
And interior minister Manuel Valls said he hoped for “French Islam at the heart of the Republic”. He also predicted the creation of a new “Police 3.0” that would be “more effective, close to the people, and at the forefront of technological advances”.
The ministers’ forecasts come after a survey before the summer break in June showed Mr Hollande had become the most unpopular president in five decades, with his personal approval rating plunging to 25 per cent.
The socialist leader – nicknamed “Flamby” after a blancmange-style pudding – came to power in May 2012 on a fanfare of promises to redistribute wealth and rebuild France’s ailing public services.
He declared himself to be “anti-rich” and promised a transparent government that would not tolerate the repeated political corruption scandals that tainted the Sarkozy regime.
But after 15 months in the job, Mr Hollande has been humiliated by a catalogue of political, economic and personal crises and found himself unable to control either the public finances or the wayward antics of first lady Valérie Trierweiler.
Millionaires have been fleeing France in fear of a proposed 75 per cent tax on all earnings over €1 million (£850,000).
MEDEF, the French equivalent of the UK’s Confederation of British Industry, has warned the president that France risks becoming “the poor man of Europe” over his “disastrous” economic policies.
His own budget minister, Jêrome Cahuzac, was recently exposed for hiding up to €20m in a secret Swiss bank to dodge taxes. And Ms Trierweiler has been at the centre of accusations she tried to wreck the political career of Ségolène Royal – Mr Hollande’s ex-wife and the mother of his four children.
Most observers say voters will only reverse their negative view of Mr Hollande if he fulfils a promise to reverse the long rise in unemployment by year-end, something he hopes to achieve in part via state-subsidised temporary jobs and training places.
French daily newspaper Le Parisien said of his latest exercise in predicting the future: “If he wants to get re-elected, he doesn’t have 12 years to build the utopia his ministers expect. He needs to do it now.”