Geoffrey Roux de Bézieux, head of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), France's largest employer federation, has revealed in an interview with Le Parisien, that the country has borne a staggering €1 billion in damages from recent riots.
He shared, “More than 200 shops were completely looted, 300 bank branches destroyed, 250 tobacconists affected, with operating methods of absolute violence. Everything was stolen, even cash registers, before setting fire to destroy. The insurers are mobilized to go as quickly as possible, I am quite confident that the businesses concerned will be compensated.”
Despite de Bézieux's optimism, the potential hike in insurance premiums due to heightened future riot risks might impact businesses.
However, the €1 billion figure, according to de Bézieux, doesn't account for impacts on tourism and damage to public institutions like schools, libraries, police stations, and the numerous vehicles set on fire during the nationwide unrest. An illustrative case being the Marseille Alcazar library, one of the country's largest, where arson damage is expected to burden taxpayers with millions in restoration costs alone.
“It is too early to give a precise figure but we are at more than a billion euros, not counting the damage to tourism," said Bézieux. "The videos of the riots, which circulated around the world, damage the image of France. It’s always difficult to know if the impact will be lasting, but there will certainly be a drop in bookings this summer when the season was promising. Trips have already been canceled.”
Comparatively, the estimated damage from the George Floyd riots in the U.S. was around €2 billion, a figure many experts argued was conservative. For France, a smaller country, the damage has already reached €1 billion in just a week.
These burgeoning damage costs from France fuel the debate on immigration and contradict arguments that more immigrants are needed to bolster public finances. Assertions that immigrants will contribute significantly to European pension systems have repeatedly been debunked, as the costs of housing, education, and unemployment benefits for immigrants in countries like France and Germany already exceed tens of billions annually. This trend seems to be creating a significant dent in Western nations' public finances.
The footage from the riots indicate a majority of the rioters to be urban youths of foreign origin, a fact also being substantiated by ongoing court cases. As an example, CNews reporter Amaury Bucco highlighted a case where four individuals charged for looting and receiving goods from Parisian stores included three immigrants, two of whom were undocumented Algerians, with one already under a deportation order.