Open letter to François Hollande, President of France and why the EU needs Britain

Cher President de la Republique,

With apologies for writing this post in English, my French is just not good enough to express the disgust I feel with French bureaucracy just now. Statista informs me that over the last 10 years the government expenditure in France amounted to about 56 percent of their gross domestic product. That’s a full 12% more than Britain!

Just looking at a small area of government competency is illustrative of the way the French government squanders away hard earned tax revenues by employing incompetent civil servants, whose sole goal in life seems to be to say “Non!”

Loft insulation the French way and the British way

All European governments signed up to a challenging target to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. One of the most efficient ways to achieve this is to improve the insulation of your national housing stock. Britain introduced an enormously popular and successful campaign whereby the state subsidised the rolls of insulation material in big DIY stores so in fact you could buy a roll for just over £3.- instead of the usual £30

This resulted in a massive hausse in DIY enthusiasts tackling their drafty lofts. Even if some UK subsidised rolls disappeared in white vans across the channel, one could argue this is an acceptable loss mainly serving cold British pensioners in northern France – the ones who lost their winter fuel allowance because of a mean spirited recent move by David Cameron.

Realise that in France the price of the same material is around €47 a roll, which is strange considering us consumers do all the work recycling our bottles to make this stuff in the first place! France’s DIY stores charge extortionate prices for everything and need competition from British traders!


Towards the end of last year copious amounts of France’s precious state budget money was spent on radio advertising for the so called Prime « Rénovation énergétique » worth 1350€. Applying for it couldn’t be simpler: Just go on the web and fill in the form PREC1 found on If only it was that simple?

Instead of getting on with the job, the applicant then has to print this partly completed form and then faces the challenge of finding a local registered qualified artisan to complete a four page questionnaire and give you a quote or ‘devis’. I tried, they all run a mile!
You need a physics degree to study all the relevant insulation norms. I had paperwork returned to me four times, because a right number was entered in the wrong box, or a wrong number in the right box. How many would have given up by then? Nevertheless I persevered! I even bought my artisan a rubber stamp, because some pen licking bureaucrat in Caen insisted on one!

Then after four months in September 2014 my application was finally accepted. However I had to fill in a second form PREC2 with 90% exactly the same questions, even though they had a copy of my bill/facture and the work was long ago completed back in May. How much does it cost the French state to administer such a crazy scheme with so much paperwork? What percentage of the total cost actually ends up with the households intended and how much is admin wasted? Compare this to the British way subsidising the actual material: Simple, direct, cheap, efficient!

I forget to mention, to comply you need to choose two types of energy saving projects from a menu. A popular second choice is installing a wood burning stove. The smart ass civil servant designing the form however made it mandatory for the efficiency of this stove to be higher than 80%. Guess what: The only stoves that meet that requirement cost around €4,500 (beyond most household budgets) and are ugly as hell to boot. All the popular ones costing around €500 have efficiency ratings of around 75% and therefor excluded. Was the author on a retainer from Leroy Merlin one wonders, as they about the only shop that sells the high efficiency ones? You would think that European rules and standards ensure that wood burners, insulation material etc. complies with the necessary EU standards anyway, so why do we need a French civil servant checking that we correctly copy EU technical information found on some obscure label at the back of an already EU approved product? Mr Hollande, why let your civil servants bark, if you pay someone in Brussels to do exactly the same? No worse than that: Why do you let them get away ‘gold plating’ norms that are set at an EU level and vendors like Brico Dépôt are already told to comply with before selling a product to a consumer?

Moral of the story

France and other EU countries have a lot to learn from the ‘can do’ pragmatic approach of the British. Even if the Brits no longer manufacture much, they are quite good at implementing services. Au contraire it really seems that many French civil servants seem to make jobs more complicated than they need be. All they seem to do is make more work for each other, passing files back and fro, rather than contemplating the most efficient way of executing a specific government policy (like combatting climate change with better loft insulation).

P.S Don’t even get me started on who took 3 years to change my address but fined me for not paying a bill I never received. Miraculously the demands and fine for late payment do arrive at the correct address, so they know damned well where I live!

And consider institute ‘Anah‘ responsible for ‘travaux d’amélioration de l’habitat’ in France. They will only consider subsidy requests for couples with a joint annual income of less than €15,000, while the costs of the works eligible for a 10% subsidy is often in the tens of thousands ( ergo no-one in that income bracket can afford the type of work they subsidise, so they really only exist in order to say  -‘ Non!‘-)

laine de verre

About lasancmt

Passionate about Identity Management Disgusted at #ukip and #brexit
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2 Responses to Open letter to François Hollande, President of France and why the EU needs Britain

  1. lasancmt says:

    PS to this story I Finally received the €1350 ‘prime rénovation énergétique’ on 07/11/2014 a good half year after doing the work and suffering the expense. This after countless emails and phone calls to the ASP Basse Normandie. I even sent them a video of the project, to show that it was legit. See for yourself on

  2. lasancmt says:

    I did write a second and a third letter to President Hollande, this time in french wih a little aid from Babelfish

    Cher président de la République
    (2nd letter sent from )
    Le 8 Novembre 2014 je vous ai écrit et votre Chef de Cabinet m’a bien répondu deux jours après réf. PDR/SCP/BCP/BR/C085796
    Depuis j’ai reçu une lettre de la Direction générale Des Finances Publiques la 15/12/2014 réf. 214/279 en promessant de me répondre, et du Conciliateur fiscal M. Germain le 12 Janvier avec un message qu’il ne peut instruire mon demande de dégrèvement de ma dette fiscal, parce que « parallèlement ça fait l’objet d’un recours auprès de M. le Président de la République ».
    En effet je n’ai pas eu aucune réponse à ma question simple, sauf un refus d’aide de la part du Conciliateur Fiscal.
    Ce qu’il se manifeste aujourd’hui, c’est le vrai problème de La républiques et c’est trop de fonctionnaires de l’état Français sont pas en train de donner un service aux citoyens Français mais en train de créer emploi entre eux sans avancer le but réel de leur existence. Chaque problème est passé d’un fonctionnaire à l’autre et en faisant ça ils ont toujours la garantie d’emploi.
    Deloitte, Un des leaders mondiaux de l’audit, fait référence dans son document état de l’Etat 2014, que chaque un pourcent du temps du personnel dans le secteur public sauvés par une mesure de la productivité a une valeur d’au moins 1,6 milliard pour les finances publiques! Le secteur public en France est environs 56% du GDP. Combien de fonctionnaires n’ajoutent aucune valeur à l’économie Française ? Pourquoi concernant mes taxes foncières il faut s’adresser à la trésorerie a Magnac-Laval pour certaines questions, et pour des autres au SIP Bellac ? Pourquoi ne pas augmenter l’Access du Service des Impôts aux systèmes de la Trésorerie pour ’que ils peuvent répondre aux tous questions de leur clients ? Donner un meilleur service en employant moins des fonctionnaires ?
    Pourquoi l’Etat Français paye fonctionnaires de l’institut ‘Anah‘ responsible pour ‘travaux d’amélioration de l’habitat’ pour donner des subventions pour avoir un premier WC et salle de bain dans sa maison, au même temps que les fonctionnaires des SIP augmentent la taxe foncière de la même maison en disant que avoir un WC + salle de bain soit un chose de grand ‘luxe’ (pas un droit humain) sur laquelle il faut payer un impôt de caca???
    Je peux vous faire une longue liste des situations comme ça. Mes amis Français disent c’est toujours comme ça en France.
    Parce que l’Etat Français ne veut pas me donner le dégrèvement en faveur des personnes âgées (selon mes ressources) a 65 et il faut attendre juste qu’a 75 ; ayant la retraite, il me fallait reprendre mon ancien métier pour payer ces taxes insupportables. Sans doute le bulot que j’ai maintenant, un jeune ouvrier pourrait le faire et vous payerez chômage a ce jeune homme ou cette femme ? S.v.p. expliquez-moi comment çà bénéfice l’économie Française, comment c’est bon pour les Finances de l’état Français ?

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