Healthcare reform helped French No vote

So, France has voted no in its referendum. Europe's constitution lies in ruins. Or not, depending on what Europe's foreign ministers can cobble together in a Brussels backroom.

Which points out a key reason why France's voters sent a resounding non! to its government and Europe's elite.

But another major reason why France voted no to Europe was France's own programme of health and social welfare reforms. These have proved deeply unpopular. And remarkably effective at mobilising millions of French workers, to take to the streets in protest. Or even Butlins, as a group of French surgeons last month took refuge in a Kent holiday camp to escape arrest by the police: in France it's illegal for hospital doctors to go on strike.

Of course, France's gallic-accented "up yours, Delors" to Jacques Chirac and the country's gilded pro-European elite has many individual causes: fear of competition from lower paid "new Europeans" from east of the Vistula, fear of "Anglo-Saxon" work practices, fear of Turkish entry into the EU. And, above all, sheer dislike of Chirac and his discredited government.

Perhaps nothing has discredited Chirac in the eyes of his own people as much as his Government's attempted health and social welfare reforms. For the last two years, there have been strikes and sit-ins by doctors in hospitals across France. The trade unions have mobilised a national campaign against the government's national IT programme, with several national days of action. France's leading human rights organisations are decrying government plans for EPR as a direct attack on the liberties of the individual. The Constitutional Council, the supreme constitutional court, has been called upon to rule on the legitimacy of electronic patient records.


French public spending policy in crisis

France's national disease coding

DMP: the French EPR

The lesson for Europe


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