LONDON Jan 14 The French embassy in London
published a scathing blog rejecting criticism of France's
economy from the editor of a British financial newspaper as
wrong on various counts, and it took aim in return at Britain's
The unusually frank statement responded to an article
published last week by City A.M., a free newspaper distributed
around London's financial district, which said the French
government was undertaking a "socialist experiment" that had
left the country "doomed to decline further".
Ditching its normal diplomatic tone, the embassy issued a
stinging riposte entitled "10 accounts on which City A.M. has
got it wrong on France".
It condemned assertions by City A.M. Editor Allister Heath
that France's public spending was out of control, using what it
described as Britain's "ailing" National Health Service as an
example of how French policy trumped its British equivalent.
"The French system, by comparison, which is also almost
entirely free of charge, came top of 191 countries in the World
Health Organization's rankings for overall health care," the
blog dated Jan. 9 on the embassy's official website said.
In response to the blog, Heath tweeted in French that he had
no regrets: "Je ne regrette absolument rien!" - a play on the
late French diva Edith Piaf's most famous song.
The embassy defended France's work ethic, using Eurostat
data to show that the average French worker put in more hours
per week than their British counterpart.
The blog post also used official statistics to address
criticism of France's growth outlook, its tax regime and the
country's attractiveness to foreign investors.
The embassy pointed to France's reform of government
spending, but insisted that its public services still offered
good value for money.
"France has always sought to achieve greater efficiency and
will continue to do so in spite of future budget cuts. Clearly,
however, when you live in France - from health to infrastructure
and from energy costs to transport - you get bang for your
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Mark Heinrich)