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Record inflation at 5.2%: France is doing better than its European neighbors, we explain why

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According to data published this Tuesday, May 31 by INSEE, the rise in prices over the last twelve months has reached 5.2% in France, its highest level since September 1985. However, France is not the worst-off country in this area among its European neighbours.

The prices keep going up. While one-year inflation stood at 4.8% in April, it rose again to 5.2% in May to reach a record level, better known since September 2015. Symbol of these increases which spare no one sector, the price of the water pack Cristaline experiences its first increase in 20 years. According to BFMTV, it would be around 10%.

But France is not the worst-off country in this area, according to the ranking published by our colleagues from Ouest France. This is based on European standards which give France an inflation rate of 5.8%, slightly above the INSEE data. Only Switzerland (2.3%) and Malta (5.6%) do better.

Everywhere else, prices are soaring: + 7.8% in the United Kingdom, + 8.5% in Spain, + 8.7% in Germany, + 9.9% in Belgium and + 10.2% in the country -Down. Inflation has even reached crazy levels in the Baltic countries: 20.1% in Estonia, 18.5% in Lithuania, 16.4% in Latvia.

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Structural reasons

So why is France doing rather better than its European neighbours? First, there are structural reasons. Especially in terms of energy. While the countries of Eastern Europe are highly dependent on Russian hydrocarbons and are directly impacted by the war in Ukraine, France is, according to economist Stéphanie Villers interviewed by Public-Sénat, “less impacted” due to of “its balanced mix and composed of 40% nuclear energy.”

As the analysis published by our colleagues points out, “France’s food autonomy” also plays in its favor compared to countries dependent on Russian or Ukrainian agricultural production.

“The same is true in the industrial and commercial sector, unlike the German economy which is more globalized and therefore dependent on supply chains. France is less impacted by the supply shock imposed by covid and the problems of ‘supply’, continues Public-Sénat.

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Government measures to limit breakage

Beyond these elements, the government has implemented several measures to contain inflation as much as possible. We can cite the example of the discount of 18 cents on liters of fuel put in place until July 31. The purchasing power law planned by Emmanuel Macron should also make it possible to contain the effects of inflation.

However, France is not the only one to act. “There are two types of anti-inflation measures in all countries: household allowances, often targeted on the most modest such as the inflation allowance in France, and measures on energy prices which affect all consumers” , observes the economist Christian Saint-Etienne interviewed by Le Figaro.

Among our European neighbours, we can, for example, cite the discounts of 30 cents on a liter of petrol and 14 cents on a liter of Diesel adopted in Germany, reductions in VAT on energy in Belgium and the Netherlands or even a ceiling on food prices decided in Hungary since February.

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